Finally a Teenager: 13 Years of Fashion with Designer Kateřina Geislerová

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WORDS: MADELINE CHESNUT

In celebration of 13 years of fashion, runway shows, and collections, Czech designer Kateřina Geislerová had a little celebration to show off her work, where she has come from and where she is going. I popped down to Showroom V Kotcích to take a look. I was impressed and inspired by some  looks, while others were an instant flip through on the rack. While I enjoyed comparing the collections through the ages, I almost enjoyed the stories behind her journey as a designer a bit more.

Kateřina left home when she was 18 for schooling as an interior designer. Her passion for line, shape, color, and textiles was obvious, but her route was not. Down the line a professor saw the potential in Kateřina’s work and steered her away from interior design and into the world of fashion, thinking that it would be a much better fit. This inspiring professor actually purchased Kateřina’s first collection that she made as a designer (insert “awwww” comment). And the rest is history as they say… sorry for the basic girl phrase, but it was fitting.

So, after 13 years, what can be said about the evolution of Kateřina’s work as a designer? A few thing are for sure; she loves her structure, she loves obscure lines, and most evident: she is consistently inspired by menswear.

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This skirt, while obviously not super wearable was a fun tip into the mind of Kateřina because this was one of her early exploration in flirting the with ideas of recreating menswear. Made from men’s trousers, I’m not sure how this would hit the bum in the most flattering way, but still- supper interesting thought.

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And another one. More men’s wear is shown with this long vest. While asking about the Czech market, Kateřina’s publicist explained to me that this piece was very popular with Czech woman because of their sense to wear modest, not, “look at me” clothing.

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Yay we finally have some pattern, folks! While it was few and far between, I will give your eyes some much needed stimulation with a rare splash of pattern and color, but don’t get used to it. It is sure to say that throughout her 13 years, Kateřina will almost always stick with solids.

When asked what words described Kateřina’s inspiration and style, her kind publicist instantly replied with the words, “femininity and structure.” It is clear that Kateřina’s training and eye for interior design both play a role in the construction of her garments.

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I was a bit confused by the comment about femininity and accentuating the female physique after seeing a few too many less-than-flattering pieces that would give a shapeless, lumpy figure to even the slimmest of toothpicks.

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So, what is on the table for year 14? Maybe pink silk and burnt orange? Who really knows, but lets hope that Kateřina Geislerová continues with feminine, flattering lines, and leaves the bags at home.

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How to Wear SS16 By Czech Designers

WORDS: Madeline Chesnut

More often than not, the looks coming down the runway, strapped onto size zero little nothings, can be extremely daunting. I often find myself thinking, “who the hell would actually wear that,” or “how would this look transition from the runway to real-life?” Designer’s experimentation can be out there and hard to imagine, but you have to think of these looks as art and self expression- though most of them probably wouldn’t sell in a store. After weeding out the “interesting” designs, I have pulled a handful of my favourite looks from the SS16 Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Week shows in the determination to show you that some looks are a lot more achievable than one may think. With a few accessories, one’s imagination can start to rationalise Czech designers and gain the confidence to add a runway look to their wardrobe. Set aside your plain white T and jeans and try something new!

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The first look that grabbed my attention was this rose coloured Odivi maxi dress. I was inspired by the ease that this look has- the “I’m not trying too hard” look, which in reality, took a few hours of readjusting and getting the hair and the makeup just right. Beside that fact, this look could be easily accomplished and would be perfect for a day running around the city, shopping or grabbing coffee. An Olivia Burton watch (one of my personal favourites) would be perfect paired with a slouchy Chloé bag and stylish Adidas trainers.

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Another casual city look that could transition well into every day life is this long cardigan by Monika Drapalova. Perfect for throwing over a basic outfit on a day where you want to hide a bit. Wear with Ancient Greek Sandals, Mui Mui shades, and a Saint Laurent bucket bag to run errands in a comfortable, yet fashionable manner.

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Jakub Polanka helps you pull off the market perusing weekender look with a funky wrap jacket full of colour,  and a striped pattern; an essence of exploration. Pair with Carvel trainers, and an Aspinal of London cuff to add colour and personality. Don’t forget a Tory Burch back pack to tote around a fresh loaf of bread from the farmer’s market or handmade jewellery from an art festival.

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How adorable is this classic, 50’s housewife dress? Finish off the look with a blush Rebecca Minkoff bag, tan brogues by Dune London and an Olivia Burton watch- I told you she is my favourite.

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Did someone say GNO? For those nights when you want to leave your worries behind and get lost in cocktails, good conversation, and bae-watching, make sure to doll yourself up in something short, something black, and something with sass. This ensemble by Michal Kovacik, along with Aquazzura stilettos,  Kendra Scott earrings, and a Valentino clutch is the recipe for a good night.

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Whether you have a hot date or a date with yourself to some extravagant event, this dress by Zuzana Kubickova is sure to be a jaw dropper. This beautifully detailed tea length dress, paired with classic Mary Jane Jimmy Choo’s, a Brunello Cucinelli statement necklace, and an Alexander McQueen clutch is an achievable run way look.

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It’s summer time in the city, so when you are ready to chill out and relax, make sure to slip into a Jakub Polanka tunic, Miu Miu shades, Funky Espadrilles by Steve Madden, and a fedora by Heidi Klein- because no one likes a burnt hair part.

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And when you are dreaming of pool days and sun tans, Katerina Geislerova gives us the look. Be playful as you lounge by the pool in a a fedora by Sara Designs, bright Linda Farrow sunnies, and a Hawaii inspired tote by Kate Spade New York- too cute to take in.

 

Zdenka Imreczeova: Where Basics Are Anything But Boring

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WORDS: Madeline Chesnut

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the opening for Czech designer Zdenka Imareczeova’s new collection. Within minutes of walking through the door to her showroom, I wanted to buy almost everything on the rack. Tank tops, blouses, dresses, skirts, and other items lined the walls and I didn’t know where to start. After playing dress up for about an hour, here are the looks that I can’t stop thinking about.

The basics

FullSizeRender The collection was comprised of great basics that could be worn every day, dressed up or dressed down. Each blouse had an interesting detail, like a tie in the back or ties on the side, and most were made of a jersey knit blend that felt amazingly soft to the touch (personally I loved the micro modal blend). Zdenka said that inspiration for some of the collection- the blouses in general- came from elements seen in menswear, much of which you could see in the structure of the blouses and dresses.

The dresses, oh the dresses.

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The updated LBD you’ve been waiting for.

We can all agree that a black dress is a necessary component to every wardrobe, and this spin of a classic cut with buttons down the front, tailored sleeves, a tie around the waist, and paneling in the front is a chic number. Wear it with flats while grabbing an afternoon coffee, or pair it with heels to meet friends for cocktails.

The mixture of a soft color with a traditional shirt dress silhouette and full skirt is really working for these two dresses. Contrived of a light cotton blend, both of which have a draw string tie at the waist, these dresses would be comfortable and breathable for walking running around on a hot summer day.

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This great number in linen can be worn untied for a casual, oversized look, or synched at the waist with a matching tie. In addition to the linen dress there were multiple styles of shirts and blouses, as well as a very chic circle skirt with an elastic band an ideal situation on this inevitable “fat” days.

Tickled Pink

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Adding a burst of colour to a monochromatic collection for Spring/Summer 2016

The pink wall; the best wall. It seems very fitting that I am about to rave about the pink wall on National Pink Day. Yes, it is National Pink Day, and yes, it is a real thing.While I love a good basic, the colour pink is probably the highest on my list and this rose shade is really working for me. These garments were a soft, jersey blend and had fabulous pleated detailing. I really enjoyed discovering how Zdenka played with the idea of pleating throughout the collection. The pleats give another level of texture and interest.

I wanted to take this jersey knit cardigan home is ways that I can’t explain. The long ties in the front could be left hanging, for an elongated effect, or tied in different ways. Throwing this over a pair of jeans or slacks is sure to spruce up any outfit and make a colour statement.

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The verdict? After not visiting Imreczeova and her collections for quite sometime it is nice to see her use more colours and more feminine, non oversized silhouettes. Impressed is an understatement! Thank you Zdenka Imreczeova for an impressive new collection and we very much look forward to recommending your garments and your studio to all who ask.

Zuzana Veselá – Spring/Summer 2016 Collection

The Queen of Hundreds and Thousands – a tome to the modern woman.

 

A week before Mercedes Benz Prague Fashion Weekend kicked off designer Zuzana Veselá debuted her Spring/Summer 2016 line to a packed house of clients and journalists at the new wine bar Strada del Vino located just behind the National Theatre.

Queen of Hundreds and Thousands begins with the cooler months of spring; a jersey bouclé suit with details accentuating the fold in the arms, soft shoulders and heart closure with the use of a traditional Czech bobbin lace.

From the suit we move towards bold stripes -either in skirt, blouse or dress form – using many of the elements of bobbin lace to create heart-shaped details; a nod to the self-sacrificing women who wears her “heart on her sleeve”. Coats are given the lace element as well, a sort of haphazard colour block at the front that meets in perfect symmetry at the back.

As spring moves forward the colour palette becomes lighter and we see a much more sexually aware, stronger woman emerge. An asymmetrical viscose tunic with leather belt brings the idea of spring with its ditzy, water coloured print. This is also seen in the ¾ sleeve, shorts suit made in poly/cotton jacquard harkening the joys of summer meadows in full bloom. Sleeves become exaggerated, either seen in bell sleeve or peasant blouses with tie closures at the wrists. Crochet and striped skirts made of baby alpaca and organic cotton bring the bobbin lace and ribbon details a new feel. Burnout velvet takes the season’s trend of transparent garments and remakes them as tunics with lace trim which can be worn separately or tucked into linen trousers or in a dress with sweetheart neck that is both a classic and alluringly feminine silhouette.

We close Queen of Hundreds and Thousands with a woman who has completed the cycle of being all things to all people, but most importantly she continues to stay true to herself first, allowing everyone to think of her as they wish.

 

Ready-to-Wear Collection

 

Evening Wear

Evening Wear

 

Outer wear and Accessories

Van Graaf adds panache to Fall/Winter 2013 Collection

Van Graaf has continued to make a name for itself inside the Czech market. The Germany company, who will add several new menswear lines this fall, is pushing a more aggressive strategy going forward. On Sunday evening, Van Graaf introduced their concept behind Fall/Winter 2013, all of which can be purchased in store.

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Floor length dresses were key to the glamour queen for the f/w13 collection of Van Graaf. Using embellishments like beads and sequins the simple neck-lines  were turned into necklaces or a 1920’s art-deco decadence in lilac, turquoise or cream.  Fur stoles, wraps, and jackets added a dimension of luxury perfect for the ball, theater, or an evening out for drinks with friends. For men it was fitted suits with clean lines, all perfectly tailored, which were the show stoppers. The standard single or double-breasted jacket was a key feature as were colors of black, charcoal, and ochre respectively.

It was the punk, grunge trend that followed closely behind. Unlike many other younger market driven stores, Van Graaf was able to make a youth culture movement appealing for the older audience. Whether it was combining familiar cuts like a skinny jean, a leather motorcycle jacket -complete with shoulder studs- with a more traditional sweater, or adding knits to leather studded mini-skirts; the collection was both interesting and wearable. For men, the grunge theme went with fitted, tapered dark denim,  leather blazers, mixed wool and leather baseball jacket that verged on a familiar Diesel or Replay styling.

It was a mix of sophisticated blacks, college prep, and Scottish highlands that found their way into the final trend of  Van Graaf a/w13. Sweaters with small Scotty dogs combined with corduroy skirts and tights (and the obligatory ankle boot) continued to make an impression. Add this with an Oxford prep man and the cycle was complete- and more or less matched every other high street design.

Buzz Words Be Gone: The two most overused words in Czech Fashion Vocabulary

You’ve read these words; unfortunately probably on this blog (sorry).  They are the most common filler words on press releases and the words people use when they want to sound avantgarde (another word I hate that I’ve been prone to use from time to time). If you type these two words into Czech google you’ll be hit with an astonishingly 3.6 million hits for EACH WORD!

So, which two words irk me more than any other? Why, it’s none other than Futurism and Minimalism. Both have become so over-used that they have lost their meaning all together. Ruffle dresses with a clean bodice that’s minimalism. Any garment that looks to be completely unwearable? It’s futurism! Sometimes I think my fellow journalists and bloggers have run out of ways to just say- It’s shit, so we say futurism. Lacks any form of creativity- minimalism, and thus the pendulum swings back.

After what most would deem a relaxing summer the slow drum beat of four upcoming fashion weeks suddenly has me trolling the thesaurus for words that are at least slightly more appealing than the lazy lady’s normal fall back plan. Banal, verbose, simulacrum; these are certainly more effective tools of communication and normally explain exactly what I am thinking when I see something “futuristic” (I am actually writing them down in a book as we speak to be whipped out at a moments notice for any and all catwalk shows where it seems a fitting word).

Of course, this all has me wondering; if Minimalism and futurism were the “buzz words” for 2012 fashion weeks in Prague will it be “rocker chic”, “punk”, or something even more obnoxious this year? Two more weeks and I will know for sure.

Two examples of “Futurism” designs from Prague Fashion Weekend 2012

A new Face of Czech Fashion

Roma designer brings color and cultural flair to the runway

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Ironically, the fashion industry likes homogeneity. It thrives in conditions where all of the players are known and can be easily identified, manipulated and pigeonholed. And the Czech Republic’s world of haute couture – which, like the society itself, is overwhelmingly Caucasian – is no different. So how, then, did a young Roma couturier make it to one of the largest and most prestigious platforms for up-and-coming designers, Shooting Fashion Stars 2013, in a country known around the world for its anti-Roma prejudice?

One way, certainly, is with talent, which 27-year-old Pavel Berky possesses in abundance. The Slovak designer proved that by winning both the Top Style Designer 2012 and the Fashion Design Studio awards at the Styl-Kabo International Trade Fair in Brno early last year.

Nevertheless, it is notoriously difficult for an ambitious Roma to succeed in the Czech Republic or Slovakia, because the obstacles are immense. Both countries place large numbers of Roma children in de facto segregated “special” schools on the now disproved pretext that they are best suited for children from a socially challenged background.

According to Amnesty International, “Romani children in Slovakia are being denied the right to a proper education by a system that routinely discriminates against them. …  Romani children often receive a second-rate education and have a very limited chance of progressing beyond compulsory schooling.”

And a recent report by the United Nations Development Program found that nearly two of three Roma Slovak children attend ethnically segregated special schools.

“Of course, of course, there are problems,” says Berky, visibly controlling his emotions. “I know a lot or Romani people living in the Czech Republic, and the problems are huge. But, for me personally, I really don’t recognize these problems a lot because I don’t look like your [stereotypical] ethnic Roma.”

Berky’s parents, descendants of the Sinti ethnic group of Roma people, raised their children to speak Slovak and, as he says, they provided a secure and loving home for him and his sister, Renata.

But it is clear Berky does not enjoy speaking about the subject and prefers to make his statements not with words but with silks, intricate weaves and eye-popping color.

Berky’s schooling began at the design and arts high school in Trenčín, Slovakia, where he studied French, which he speaks fluently, and acquired skills that led him to be accepted by the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design (VŠUP) in Prague. Berky soon scored his first success, designing African brocades for Veba, a highly respected textile manufacturer. Then came his double triumph at the Styl-Kabo fair with his androgynous collection “XY.”

As a result, Berky became more confident – and therefore more forthcoming – in his work, and was given a prestigious stage by the foundation Shooting Fashion Stars, produced by Stars Communications and Sara Events. He used the opportunity to unveil both a new collection and more of himself.

The title of the collection he presented April 11, at the Masarykovo train station, was “Coming Out,” which, he says, was intended to celebrate “my Romani culture and where I am from … and my [sexual] orientation that is different from other people.”

Berky says he had planned on marrying European modernity with Roma details to create a melting pot of stunning visual pieces.

“[I wanted people to see] that my culture is very rich and can give to other people,” he explains with such passionate conviction that he leaves the impression that he is on a mission to change the perceived stereotype of an entire ethnic population.

As in all other contexts, it is best to leave one’s own stereotypical assumptions by the wayside when regarding Berky’s designs – in other words, don’t expect brightly colored maxi-skirts with Lurex threads, embroidered peasant tops or flamboyant scarves.

“Typical Romani dress [is composed of] things that you would not, or could not, connect together, and sometimes it’s a lot of [different] materials and patterns,” Berky explains. “So I wanted to try to connect them so that you would think, ‘This is something different.’ “

Berky’s collection presented an explosion of fuchsia, pinks, navy and sultry lipstick reds in linen, silk organza, wool/silk blends and fine crepe wools. Playing with fabrics, he reversed a red wool/silk-blended blazer so that the lapels sparkled on the runway. Interior linings of jackets, coats, and blouses in bright floral patterns recalled traditional Roma folk costumes found throughout Eastern Europe.

His favorite design in the collection was one that is perhaps the most sentimental. “I love this piece because of my mom,” Berky says of a beautifully constructed mock-turtleneck, sleeveless dress knitted by hand by his mother, Eva. “I was trying [to sew it] it but it never worked, and that’s why my mom stepped in,” he laughs.

As with much of Roma culture, Berky’s Shooting Fashion Stars debut was a family affair. His sister, who is majoring in Roma studies at Charles University, and the designer’s partner were also on hand for moral support.

“It was the first time that [my sister] had seen the collection and she was very moved,” he says. “She even cried.”

He says, with evident pleasure, that his parents are proud of both their children. “My sister and I are the first to go to university,” he says, smiling – a smile that leaves as much of an impression as his delightful collection.

A few of Berky’s piece:

Photo Credit: Emily McDermott

Photo Credit: Emily McDermott

*This article first appeared in The Prague Post on Wednesday, April 15, 2013 *

A dress knitted by Berky's mother Eva was one of the favorite pieces of the evening. Photo Credit: Emily McDermott

A dress knitted by Berky’s mother Eva was one of the favorite pieces of the evening.
Photo Credit: Emily McDermott

Skirts become trousers in Berky's updated 'Coming Out' collection shown at the Masarykovo Station in Prague. Photo Credit: Emily McDermott

Skirts become trousers in Berky’s updated ‘Coming Out’ collection shown at the Masarykovo Station in Prague.
Photo Credit: Emily McDermott

Oversize jackets in wool were mixed with long, flowing silk dresses and the staple high-heel shoe Photo Credit: Emily McDermott

Oversize jackets in wool were mixed with long, flowing silk dresses and the staple high-heel shoe
Photo Credit: Emily McDermott