Czech designers win main award at the International Fashion Showcase in London

Work by Monika Krobová, photo: archive of Czech Centres

Czech fashion designers from Prague’s Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design (UMPRUM), headed by curator Pavel Ivančic, won the main prize this week at London’s International Fashion Showcase. The event is part of London Fashion Week. The Czech installation, titled ‘Last Fata Morgana’ is the work of seven designers.

Work by Monika Krobová,  photo: archive of Czech Centres
I discussed the installation with Alexandra Střelcová a PR & communications consultant working with Czech Centre London.

I began by asking her about the reaction to the big win.

“We are very happy that Czech fashion has been given this international recognition; as Pavel Invančic, the curator of the show said, this success has finally put fashion onto the international map. And hopefully all these efforts will help Czech designers to more international opportunities.”

Whether students or graduates, the Czech designers taking part are described as not exactly newcomers, they have all already made a mark, so to speak… Who are some of them and perhaps we could about some of the work and some of their themes.

“That’s right. Four of them were nominated for the Czech Grand Design Award and as of today I can confirm that Sofya Samarevá, a designer who makes awesome and spectacular hats, she is one of those on the very final short-list of designers who will compete for a Czech Grand Design Award [in the Best New Talent category]. She combines millinery design with hair sculptures and is really one of the emerging stars of Czech fashion design.

Hat by Sofya Samareva,  photo: archive of Czech Centres
“Another designer featured is Filip Jakab, who is a master of very sensual but very wearable dresses, very romantic. His designs made a big splash. Then there is Marketa Kratochvílová, who combines jewelry with women’s lingerie in a kind of spinsterish but also very sexy way as well.

“Among others, you also have Tereza Rosalie Kladošová who specialises in weaving and embroidery also in a very idiosyncratic way, or Karolina Juříková who revived sort of 1960s/70s technique. She worked with that tradition and now makes very wearable dresses.”

Pavel Invancic is quoted as kind of describing the main criteria for the Czech entry: that fashion should be “unpretentious”, that is should be experimental… Did audiences get the sense that each of the designers was pushing the envelope, doing new things… were the comments appreciate of that fact?

“After the award ceremony I spoke to Mandi Lennard, a fashion specialist with one of the most acclaimed PR agencies in London focusing on fashion… She was a member of the jury who decided who would take the award. What she said she especially praised was the pureness of the installation and the individual design. The curator Pavel Ivančic at the same time stressed that what had been important was not just the work on an individual level but from the perspective of the designers’ collective background.

Markéta Kratochvílová's jewellery,  photo: archive of Czech Centres
“The show is titled Last Fata Morgana, the latest generation of Czech designers who are not burdened by the previous socialist period, pre-1989, who are able to work internationally and with renowned international brands. They can be successful abroad but still have elements they share from their common background.”

You mentioned the title… Last Fata Morgana… a mirage… this is a large collaborative effort isn’t it?

“It goes back to the Czech Centres’ main message, to sort of champion Czech culture abroad, specifically of the Czech Centre London headed by Tereza Porybná, focusing to a large degree on fashion. When you say the word fashion, the Czech Republic is normally not the first country which you think of but now is a very exciting time for young Czech designers, it is really interesting how designers born after 1989 deal with their country’s past but also future.”

For those who were unable to attend, how does the International Fashion Showcase fit within London Fashion Week as a whole?

“Well it’s an international gathering and an official event within the week. However, it takes place apart from the main event in Soho, where all the catwalks and showrooms are. This year the showcase was held at the beautiful setting of Somerset House on the Thames. Twenty-four countries were involved.”

Work by Antonín Šimon,  photo: archive of Czech Centres
What’s next for Last Fata Morgana? My understanding is that the installation will now be exhibited in Prague…

“That’s right. I cannot confirm the exact opening date yet but it will be in the second half of April at Galerie Smečky. Local visitors will be able to see the award-winning work and collaborations with the photographers who shot the beautiful catalogue for the show and other work.”