Mind The Map – Set Your Eyes On The Slovak Republic

Since 2013 the Slovak Fashion Council have introduced over 20 new designers to both industry professionals and the public. “Mind the Map” their show and presentation in collaboration with Fashion Scout, the international showcase for fashion pioneers, introduced five Slovak designers to London Fashion Week. It was a stylistic experience that made the most of the gorgeous upper floor of the Freemasons Hall.

On arrival, after amongst a showroom of clothes and accessories from all 5 designers involved, guests were given champagne and encouraged to take-in the collections. I was immediately struck by the bright primary palette of Lukas Krnac‘s jumpers, and the tough utilitarian styling of Vivian Babicova‘s seatbelt bags. This being my first show at LFW, I didn’t realise yet that both the bright colour palette and utilitarian sense would both feature amongst collections across the shows I saw at the weekend.

After the very fashion forward crowd had filled the room, and given enough time to check out the clothes on display (and on each other), the doors were opened to another beautiful stained glass room where we were seated for the catwalk shows. However, before that, a dance performance took place, completely changing the atmosphere. I really enjoyed how this set the tone and animated the space; dancer – Zusana Sehnalova had so much presence.

Lukas Krnac opened the show with fun colour-pop designs that re-imagined and remixed sportswear influences in a way somewhat reminiscent of Jeremy Scott‘s 2014 Autumn Ready to Wear collection (which I cite as a compliment, he’s one of my favourite designers). My favourite of these being a loose longline grass green cold shoulder sweatshirt dress, worn with matching green sport socks and banana yellow sandals, quirkily accessorised by holding a bunch of fake bananas. It was punchy, oversized to exaggeration and yet somehow fun and sexy.

Walking to a bouncy electro soundtrack, the sportswear became a mash-up with suiting influences, denimwear, and bodysuits connected to chaps that made the models look like comic book superheroes. Amidst all that was more outré, was a very wearable super fave blue tartan overcoat, worn with a matching waist belt. The model was male, but the styling was easily unisex.

Following the paint-box pop colours with something far more muted, was the collection of Petra Kubikova. Loose flowing lines in tartan prints of greys and whites and balaclava-like hats were knitted to match the tones of the jackets and dresses ending mostly in midi hemlines, and often criss-crossed by bondage straps. As further models walked, details began to be played with more, including floor length sleeves.

There were also longline coats and trousers in this collection in cream and grey brocade, and brown wool.  My favourite piece was the final dress presented. It had many of the details of the previous items, (grey and white tartan, bondage straps etc), but the short sleeves and hemline made it seem the most wearable. It’s also fair to say that this collection was probably the most wearable of the five designers. But in saying that, it also left the least impression on me, which unfortunately probably had much to do about being presented as part of a group.

Next was Silvia Zrebna, whose chiffon bottomed wide-legged trousers I had noticed in the showroom, and looked all the more beautiful on the runway. I found her work the most accomplished and polished of the designers, at a level that belied the fact she was a graduate. Each look was well thought out, beautifully constructed and rife with so many details you could miss, but the closer and longer you looked showed real artistry. She had shapes, silhouettes, materials and accents I would never think of or consider mixing that felt both innovative and classic.

Particular favourites for me were jewellery headpieces, a chainmail version of an eye mask, and soft thick boucle threaded through stiff and ruched cotton, and puffer style epaulettes, cascading off one shoulder. Sleeves were often blouson and billowing, giving the models a regal quality.

Following the runway show, we were invited back to the showroom for more champagne and a presentation. This being my first LFW I was new to presentations, and now that I have been to several of them I can understand why they are becoming more popular. As much as I love the drama and immediacy of a runway show suddenly beginning (and it always seems to be sudden) the presentation format allows you to really take your time and properly see the clothes.

The models were brilliant at staying present and aware of everyone in the showroom, so that as soon as you were clearly paying attention to a detail of what they were wearing, they shifted subtly to make for a better picture.  It was here that I really began to appreciate Vivian Babicova‘s seatbelt bags, and how they could be worn as they were threaded through and connected to the garments worn beneath them.

With this being a group show, there was far more time allocated to embrace the clothes in different contexts, and you couldn’t of had a better backdrop than the Freemasons Hall‘s, a building I have been intrigued by for years. I really appreciated the opportunity to see the clothes in the showroom, and then see them on the runway, and then to experience them in a presentation. It left me feeling a real understanding of their concept and construction.

Words By Paula Varjack

Paula Varjack’s show ‘The Cult of K*nzo’ is currently on a nationwide tour that includes BAC on Saturday 27 April https://www.bac.org.uk/content/45293/whats_on/whats_on/shows/cult_of_knzo

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*All images are sourced from Slovak Fashion Council’s, Fashion Scout’s and Lukas Krnac’s official websites and Instagram accounts. We are not responsible for the source of the images beyond these entities. Ragged Culture Publishing Ltd does not own these images. All rights reserved.*

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