Czechs and fashion
While Czech supermodels wow the fashion crowds in Paris, London and Rome, here in the Czech Republic teenage models of lesser repute -but great promise- are also strutting down catwalks sporting the latest fashion trends.What is the Czech fashion scene like more than a decade after the fall of communism? Have Czechs become more fashionable and fashion conscious? This week I talked to Mrs. Anna Nandradzi, an image consultant who recalls queuing up all night to get her hands on a Western fashion magazine in the days of the Iron Curtain. And we began by discussing the spring trends:
"What you want to create is a very soft but also fresh look. Pink, beige, light green, light blue. Colours that are good for make up as well as for clothing."
What about dress style?
"As far as dress goes you want to go for an informal, comfortable look. It could be a sports look, an army look, for the evening it could be a little bit more dramatic or romantic, but very comfortable."
Short skirts or long skirts?
"Very short skirts but also very long skirts. Something for everyone."
What do you think about Czech women and fashion?
"Oh, Czech women are very interested in fashion, especially young girls and young women. You can see shops full of the latest fashions so it is no problem to buy good stuff and if you look at Prague's streets you'll see a lot of young people sporting very fashionable outfits."
How has the situation changed over the past decade - since the fall of the Iron Curtain?
"I think that it has changed a lot because we didn't follow the fashion then as we do now. We couldn't buy anything fashionable -or almost never. Shops stocked clothes that had a plain or classic look -but they were never fashionable."
So what did women do then - those who were interested in fashion?
"Well, we bought fashion magazines and made our own clothes. That's what I did. I would buy any fashion magazine I could lay my hands on and sow."
But Western fashion magazines -such as Burda which was popular at the time- were hard to get hold of in those days, weren't they?
"Yes, that is true. I used to queue up for them in Jungmannova street where you could buy Western fashion magazines once a month and it took a whole night for me to be among the first so that I would be sure to get one."
You queued up for how long to get the magazine?!
"Oh, all night. Because they would get -for example -two hundred magazines so the first two hundred people could buy but not the others."
And it was worth the wait ?
"Yes, it was worth the wait because then you could buy - a FASION MAGAZINE!"
So you made you own clothes...The material itself was available here and it was of fairly good quality wasn't it?
"Ah, you know it wasn't very good quality, but we did our best with it."
So what happened after the Velvet Revolution? How did your life change? You are obviously very interested in fashion and it has become your profession.
"Well, obviously the circumstances are very different. But you know how it is. Whenever you want precisely something you can't find it anywhere. So I still have some things made. But the opportunities are there. The fashion magazines, fashion shows ...and of course one can travel freely."
So you are still working hard on being fashionable?
"Yes, it is easier for young people, there are more possibilities when you shop. But when you are older and have a certain taste, you desire certain colours and high quality it is not always so easy to get precisely what you want."
Is it very expensive to be fashionable in the Czech Republic today?
"I don't think so. I teach women to think about their wardrobe like they would think about any other investment. A woman should have a clear idea about her own style, her colours, about quality materials, about accessories and then put together her wardrobe step by step. You do not need to have a closet crammed full of clothes. You need to have the RIGHT things."
You yourself teach women how to dress. You also lecture for firms I understand -is that right?
"Yes, I organize seminars and give lectures for whole companies. It is mostly about professional image but I also advise individuals about how to dress, how to develop their image."
This is quite a novel area for Czechs isn't it ?
"Yes, it is a new topic. There are some companies who are very interested in having image consultants help them with this problem -if I may call it that- but there are also many, many others who are not interested in the appearance or image of their employees. You can read anywhere that image is important and you need to think about how you want to present yourself but I think that it takes time. Maybe people in our country are concerned about other things at present ...it will come."
Do you think that Czech men are fashion conscious?
"Young men -yes. The older generation I would not say...but young men, yes, they are very fashion conscious."
What about fashion designers? Does the country have many young, talented up and coming fashion designers?
"Yes, I think so. There are quite a few of them who are -well, its hard to say successful because they are not known abroad - but they are very creative, interesting and produce some really good things."
What would you say about Czech women? Czech models are admired world wide and they are very successful. To what would you attribute this?
"They are very interesting, very special."
Do you feel that Czech women are attractive?
"Oh yes, they most certainly are."
In what way?
"They want to be attractive, you know. So they take good care of themselves. Especially young girls and young women. They are not lazy and they work hard on being as attractive as possible. "