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THE CZECH CENTRE IN BRATISLAVA MOUNTS AN EXHIBITION OF FASHION INSPIRED BY PRAGUE'S ARCHITECTURAL STYLES

Like Prague's architecture? So wear it

SLOVAK fashion designer Michaela Trizuljaková once spent three months living in Prague's centre while working on costumes for the Czech National Theatre. She stayed in a tiny room with a view of the Church of the Virgin Mary of Týn, the gothic structure that dominates Staroměstské Square.
"I had been waking up and going to sleep with that image in my mind," she says, recalling her stay.
Strongly embedded in Trizuljaková's subconscious, this image was soon to play a role in her work. In 2000, Trizuljaková decided to join Prague's designers in a project called Looking for Lost Elegance (1997-2001). The purpose of this show was to draw attention to the work of Czech designers, which was getting lost in the sea of imported clothes. The theme for the year Trizuljaková participated in the project was Impressions of Prague's Architecture in Fashion Creations and Design.


THE DESIGNS are accompanied by photographs of the structures that inspired them.
photo: Courtesy of the Czech Centre

SLOVAK fashion designer Michaela Trizuljaková once spent three months living in Prague's centre while working on costumes for the Czech National Theatre. She stayed in a tiny room with a view of the Church of the Virgin Mary of Týn, the gothic structure that dominates Staroměstské Square.

"I had been waking up and going to sleep with that image in my mind," she says, recalling her stay.

Strongly embedded in Trizuljaková's subconscious, this image was soon to play a role in her work. In 2000, Trizuljaková decided to join Prague's designers in a project called Looking for Lost Elegance (1997-2001). The purpose of this show was to draw attention to the work of Czech designers, which was getting lost in the sea of imported clothes. The theme for the year Trizuljaková participated in the project was Impressions of Prague's Architecture in Fashion Creations and Design.


DRÁPALOVÁ's dress resembles the cupola of the Dancing House.
photo: Courtesy of the Czech Centre

"In 2000, Prague was chosen as the European City of Culture. And because Prague is famous for its rich architecture, which stretches from the Roman period to the present day, we decided that this [theme] would be the most suitable inspiration [for the project]," says the exhibition's curator Drahomíra Březinová.

Almost 20 Czech designers and jewellery makers created clothes, hats, handbags, glasses, and jewellery that reflect various architectural styles found in the Czech capital. A selection of them, accompanied by photographs of the specific buildings or objects, is currently being exhibited at the Czech Centre on Hviezdoslavovo námestie in Bratislava.

Some artists found inspiration in medieval buildings; like Trizuljaková, who knitted a dress that resembles the sharply rising towers of a majestic gothic church, and Lenka Rašková, whose hats, made of wool, mimic the shape of the thick, round baroque columns.

Several artists were inspired by the architecture of the palace gardens that spread out under Prague Castle. An interesting one is a heavy paper robe by Zuzana and Jaromír Sléhovi, created in the spirit of the Ledeburská Garden. There is also a light flowered dress by Radka Koubková, which resembles the garden terrace mosaic of the Břevnov Monastery.

However, it was allusions to Prague's modern architecture that appeared in the work of most of the exhibitors.

"It's interesting that most of the designers did not go too far into the past," says Březinová. "They were mainly influenced by architecture from the 20th century; especially by cubism, which is very common in Prague, but also by the art nouveau style, which is quite widespread here, and by contemporary architecture."


TRIZULJAKOVÁ's design.
photo: Courtesy of the Czech Centre

An example of the latter style of architecture is the Dancing House, an office building designed by architects Frank O Gehry and Vlado Milunič. The unique edifice, which is the Prague home of the Nationale Nederlanden Bank, inspired fashion artist Monika Drápalová, who created a glittering silver-black dress accompanied by a coat made of plastic tubing sealed into plastic foam. According to the curator, Drápalová "managed to convey her inspiration very well because the dress really resembles the cupola of the house".

"A never-ending source of inspiration proved to be the architecture of Josip Plečnik," said Konstantina Hlaváčková, curator of the textile collection at the Uměleckoprůmyslové Museum in Prague.

In his architectural projects, Plečnik plays with shadows and colours. His work inspired four of the pieces in the show. One example is the collection of black leather handbags by Jana Seidelmanová, who was inspired by the Church of the Most-Worldly Heart of the Lord. Designed in simple square shapes, the designer captured the essence of the church's stitch-like decoration by cutting rectangular holes into the leather flap and affixing oblong black beads.


TRIZULJAKOVÁ at work.
photo: Šimon Kliman

While some of the clothing is too extravagant to be worn, other items can be worn easily. But none of the pieces are for sale.

Because the works are made out of all kinds of materials and feature extraordinary designs, it is interesting to see what inspired the designers and what approach they chose to the project.

"I like to work with the duo Březinová and [the project's co-organiser Jan] Tajboš," says Trizuljaková, who has been working with Březinová since 1986.

"Březinová always does very interesting projects that enable Czech designers to present their works. I am sorry that this is absent in Slovakia. There isn't much for fashion designers here, like there is in the Czech Republic."

"I'm very proud that, as a Slovak, I got the chance to exhibit with top Czech artists."

What: Impressions of Prague's Architecture in Fashion Creations and Design - fashion exhibition.
When: until March 28, open Mon-Fri 10:00-17:00.
Where: České centrum (Czech Centre), Hviezdoslavovo námestie 8, Bratislava.
Admission: free.
Tel: 02/5920-3305.

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