A fashionable Prague Spring

Fashion week blends highs and lows to kick off a season of warmer weather

Denisa Nova s/s13 collectionPhoto Credit: Benjamin Vales

Denisa Nova s/s13 collection
Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

Profil Media, the organizers behind Designblok and its established autumn week, presented Prague’s first-ever Spring Fashion Week, from March 20 to 24, to bring two annual fashion weeks to the city, the way it is done in all the world’s fashion capitals. Held at the Křehký Gallery in Holešovice, it was a loosely knit blend of highs and lows.

The shows started Wednesday with the spring/summer collection of 2006 Czech Grand Designer winner Denisa Nová. The presentation took place in her tiny Prague 1 store, which allowed the street outside and its background noises to play DJ for the evening.

A self-described minimalist, Nová focused on using traditional materials in a new context. “I use very simple cuts, but combine radical tailoring and different fabrics,” the usually shy designer says.

Denisa Nova's beautiful structured jacket was a perfect example of her dynamic tailoring, though it lost the feeling with the panel of silk on the back.Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

Denisa Nova’s beautiful structured jacket was a perfect example of her dynamic tailoring, though it lost the feeling with the panel of silk on the back.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

Her latest collection relied heavily on a viscose-elastane blend, a favorite of the designer’s as well as of fast fashion brands. Her gift for tailoring was shown to good advantage in a 100 percent wool men’s-style suit coat, a Poly turtleneck peplum jacket with a mesh interior, and a pair of viscose-elastane lounge pants.

However, there was some confusion in her collection. In a gesture one can only assume was intended to correlate masculine and feminine ideas, a sky-blue woolen-silk coat displayed the masculine tailoring of which the designer is so fond in the front of the garment, with a mixture of feminine touches on the back, such as a panel of white silk chiffon. But what was its aim? Did Nová want to have raw seams and an unfinished look? Did she want movement with the silk or structure with the front? Whatever the intent was, it was not successful.

The collection of Hana Zárubová, the 2012 Czech Grand Design winner for her fashion designs, fell short of expectations. Her designs relied too much on the ideas that had garnered her accolades in the past (she’s been nominated three times for a Czech Grand Design award and won it twice), using the same harem trousers, down vests with an intense bow-neck collar, and the same bland, safe-house neutral color palette, as well as an incessant use of jersey that felt feckless.

Hana Zarubova's s/s13 collection titled "Work in Progress"Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

Hana Zarubova’s s/s13 collection titled “Work in Progress”
Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

But there was much to celebrate as well, such as the collections by Klára Nademlýnská and Liběna Rochová.

“I wanted to be optimistic, and I wanted [the collection to be] full of colors and positive energy,” Nademlýnská says. That positive energy came in the form of a pistachio and gray felt-wool-blended motorcycle jacket with beige leather detailing and an olive-green military-style cape paired with lounge pants in a sumptuous pink satin. A silk-muslin blend found its way into dresses with a brushstroke pattern that was both up-to-date and chic.

Emerald green trend was covered by Klara Nademlynska's s/s13 collectionPhoto Credit: Benjamin Vales

Emerald green trend was covered by Klara Nademlynska’s s/s13 collection
Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

With her pouf hair and heart-shaped lips, Marie Antoinette could easily have found her way into Rochová’s fall/winter selection of rosettes laser-cut into 3-D foam dresses, coats and a suit. The widely acknowledged “Queen of Czech design” used the fabric in a blush pink and black combining many aesthetic elements from her spring 2012 collection. While the 3-D foam was technically stunning, the movement of these pieces was as stiff and rigid as a full-court dress from 1770s Versailles.

Libena Rochova's 3D inspired dresses Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

Libena Rochova’s 3D inspired dresses
Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

This collection would later win the Designblok Premier Fashion Week award, following a contentious round of voting during which votes needed to be recounted until a “suitable” outcome was reached by the organizers.

Libena Rochova's spring collectionPhoto Credit: Benjamin Vales

Libena Rochova’s spring collection
Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

On Saturday, PBL Prague (formerly the Pavel Brejcha Line) showed off its vivid sport-meets-sherbet-color designs. It was a little like watching the movie A League of Their Own, but sexier and with less mud. Baseball jackets adorned an Empire dress that was half-cotton and half-mesh. Other silhouettes included a combination of marigold-yellow and pink silk chiffon, crêpe de Chine, and crêpe chiffon circle skirts and dresses with a traditional button-down shirt in a jersey material.

Marigold yellow cotton and silk chiffon dress with a striking red skinny belt is the perfect Spring look

Marigold yellow cotton and silk chiffon dress with a striking red skinny belt is the perfect Spring look

After the candy colors of so many designers, Pavel Ivančic’s MUSET line presented the sober tailored cuts of the First Republic, austere silhouettes of the Communist era and, strangely enough, the Amish. The designer wanted to focus on “reduction” and ridding the garment of elements he deemed not absolutely necessary – including color. Ivančic enlisted the help of Czech textile mills to replicate period fabrics in the form of cotton twill denim, cotton shirtings and jersey.

MUSET took inspiration from the First Republic and Communism to make a beautifully constructed line for spring/summer 2013Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

MUSET took inspiration from the First Republic and Communism to make a beautifully constructed line for spring/summer 2013
Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

This sober mood continued with “There is nothing there,” by Monika Drápalová, the title suggesting the absence of a higher being and a consequent faith in nature. Working with painter František Matoušek, Drápalová – who recently returned from a sabbatical – discussed the loss of faith in her presentation of duster coats, Just Cavalli print coveralls, rosary-etched tent dresses and free-flowing Just Cavalli print gowns.

Your own, personal, Jesus- Monika Drapalova s/s13Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

Your own, personal, Jesus- Monika Drapalova s/s13
Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

I-D magazine darling Martina Špetlová kicked Saturday evening into high gear with a texture haven of swinging ’60s London, where she is based. Špetlová used nappa and salmon fish-leather jackets, skirts, and trousers, which were given texture through the use of slits, basket weaves and arrow designs in colors ranging from sky blue and mint to electric orange and lime green. Bouclé alpaca knit dresses were worn under over-sized basket-weave coats as models danced to the beat of “Pink Cadillac” by Pat Cresswell & the Crescents.

Swinging 60's in leather at Marketa Spetlova's A/W 2013 collectionPhoto Credit: Benjamin Vales

Swinging 60’s in leather at Martina Spetlova’s A/W 2013 collection
Photo Credit: Benjamin Vales

 This article first appeared in The Prague Post on March 27, 2013

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