Mind on Textile


When it comes to fashion and dressing up, Belgraders tend to take it seriously – having the right brand of clothes seems like a pivotal ingredient in presenting oneself to the public. When capitol’s „Zara“ store opened two years ago, it instantly made a world record for number of sold items. In its first three days of work, 10.000 people passed through the store, and made it the best-selling among 830 branches of that fashion house around the globe. Knez Mihajlova street is becoming a sort of boutique district – prominent writers and journalists have recently risen their voice against closing down of old „Prosveta“ bookstore in the city center, pointing out that it will probably be replaced by „some brand-name boutique“.

The right clothes can speak volumes on one’s identity. But what if you’re intent on making a certain unique statement with your outfit, and you can’t find appropriate clothes among brand-names that all look alike? Or your wallet’s intent is to promptly shut youModa-za-poneti up when you wish to have something peculiar and more personal?

Besides fancy boutiques and thrift, second hand shops, Belgrade has recently seen more and more stores popping up, with unique clothes done by young local designers. These creative couturiers rarely have an opportunity to present their work. One of the ways to see and buy their articles was recent „Moda za poneti“ event („Take-away fashion“), which promotes domestic authors and gives them a chance to get in touch with wider audience, show their creations, and start cooperating with designers from other countries. „Moda za poneti“ is carried out by organization „Kulturni front“, dedicated to finding interesting young authors who can represent local design scene. In May 2008, this show attracted many people, and even had international character – Olivia Glebbeek, visual artist from Amsterdam, worked together with young Serbian designer Magdalena Klašnja and they presented an interesting collection of garments with original cut and printings on the drapery. Their items were sold out, as well as articles of other young authors. Large number of visitors confirmed the fact that there is great interest for domestic design.

– Unfortunately, young designers’ scene in Serbia is in shadow, because most people here are solely interested in buying clothes from well-known, popular fashion houses. „Moda za poneti” event is a great example of promoting non-established couturiers, – remarks Natalija Dabić, young designer and participant of this event, – But, of course there are people who are not slaves to fashion brands, and are not afraid of experimenting, dressing up in interesting, different garments which are much more free and original than articles offered by well-known companies.

Natalija is a graduate of Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade. She started designing clothes in 2004, when she decided to present clothes on Belgrade’s Days of design, which she was making only for herself  beforehand. Since then, she had numerous exhibitions and own fashion shows in Serbia and abroad, exhibiting her clothes design, but also paintings, illustrations and drawings. Natalija observes that Belgrade definitely needs more shops with unique clothes, that would promote young designers.

– “Kulturni front” organization is successful in fixing this problem, but young designers here have problems when trying to put their work into the market. I think that clothes production is a totally excluded possibility for them, because our textile industry is functioning poorly. When I design, I don’t think about the selling potential of my work, nor will someone get interested. I just do it because I love it, and thus I’m not interested in fashion industry, nor Fashion Weeks where everyone can get promoted, depending on how much did he or she pay for that, – says Natalija Dabić.

Designed by Natalija Dabic, photo by Sasa Preradovic2Together with a friend Marija Bogdanović, she has exhibited dresses and drawings inspired by magnolia tree in Belgrade’s SKC this year.

– We were both inspired by magnolia tree that blossoms in the snow. My design is often inspired by different things, trees, music, films. With it, I try to realize my deepest impressions, – says Natalija.

Material is also an influence to her work on garment design. She likes using cotton or silk, and recently she started making felt, a material which she finds interesting for creating clothing details, especially for winter garments. Felt is very popular in Scandinavian countries, where she has learned how to make it, and it’s getting more noted in the work of Serbian younger fashion designers.

– I did felt details for winter skirts, created by people in “Fish and Chips”, an informal group of designers, gathered around an idea of how fashion should look in Belgrade, – says Natalija Dabić.

Natalija is selling her articles on her own, or through “Moda za poneti” show.

Branka Popov, young costume designer, relies on word of mouth advertisement by now. She is creating unique haute couture dresses, shoes, jewelry, and also paintings and sculptures. Her wedding dress won first place at “Sposa news” fashion show in Pula, Croatia.

– I think that Serbia doesn’t have haute couture as a category, there is no market for it, it’s just not promoted. I sold some of my works to friends and acquaintances. It’s not so easy for young designers here, – says Branka, adding that if a young couturier wants to take part in a fashion show, he or she should pay a couple of thousands of euros.

Some designers have tried out different word of mouth advertising strategies. When t-shirts with “Dechko tzar” (“Kid tsar”) logo appeared a couple of years ago, in an instant they became popular among the young in Belgrade, only relying on word of mouth. It was impossible to find them in stores, but also impossible not to see them worn by somebody in the street. One could get hold of these t-shirts only through social network of people connected to their author.

Unique t-shirts with “Volim Sijetl” (“I love Seattle”) and “3D Bioskop” (“3D Cinema”) inscriptions are created by Ivana Stojanović, Jovan Mikonjić and group of their friends. Until now, they attracted attention of many people, largely through myspace.  Ivana says that they, as creators, are mostly interested in the intimate feel that someone would have towards the t-shirt they created.

volimSijetl– I’m convinced that every being is in some way creating so-called design, when shaping his or her own environment in order to make it pleasant for him/herself. Then there is a question how much is this person conscious of this environment and esthetic potentials that it gives to us. Such a question is sometimes improper in our wider society. Because of that, we are adverting to a more conscious minority, says Ivana, and remarks that most of cool people are actually coming from not so great financial layers.

– When we take a better look, this generation has most successfully combined posh attitude with flea market culture. That diversity and general despise towards uniformity took us to presenting a style, which is inventive, and above all, it will probably be popular here in a close future, – observes Ivana Stojanović.

Talking of inscriptions on their t-shirts, Ivana says that “Volim Sijetl” is inspiring and not pretentious.

– Actually, we don’t have any kind of reference to Seattle. Except that it’s a city full of parks. The rest we’ve made up. Everything was allowed to us. By now, our plans are modest. And, if lots of people fall in love with Seattle, we’ll see what we’re going to do then, – says Ivana.

For checking out unique work of local young designers, try consulting Internet or rely on word of mouth. Also, you can pay a visit to some of the upcoming ”Moda za poneti” shows. Last one, held in big hall of Student’s Cultural Center in the end of December, presented articles which Faculty of Applied Arts students have done in workshop with two young Scandinavian designers. Together they’ve created clothes using organic materials and second hand garments. Besides them, more than 30 local authors have showed their latest works, mostly done with ecologic approach. For example, designer Vedrana Petrovska has presented jewelry that she made out of computer and telephone parts. “Fish and chips” have exhibited white cotton skirts with unique applications, done in cooperation with Natalija Dabić.

Dušan Lopušina / “White city” magazine, January 2009



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