Established in 1996, Belgrade fashion week presents the collections of the best Serbian designers twice a year in October and March. With diversity in style and point of views all local designers clearly have one thing in common: Their love to the city.
Serbians were inspired by their roots to create for an international and local crowd. The first day of fashion week was dedicated to the local commercial brands like Ivko who presented their Autumn Winter 2018/19 collection, already available in the shops. This ‘’fast fashion’’ approach is a result of a necessity. With a population of only 7 million and a financial crisis, fashion is luxury. With the buyers out of the way and a fashion week venue with a capacity of 500 guests the local fashion scene becomes simple: shop the runway.
But BFW was not about the commercial. It was about the creative.
18 shows were presented in Belexpocentar with 12 brands led by female designers caring their name. From international known designers like Ana Ljubinković (who dressed Lady Gaga in the past) to emerging designers like Ruzica Nestorov from ATAMANSHA there was something for everyone. In black and white, textures and colors, Serbian women showed the world who says the last word in Belgrade fashion week.
Lily Tailor presented a colourful and young in spirit collection. Originally from Montenegro and with a Serbian education, Lily inspires to bright up the cold winter in Belgrade.
‘’ I am a designer but in some way I am also a fashion artist. Fashion is also art. My task is to change the mind of the belgrade women about colors in winter.’’
Lily: I’ve designed the hair pieces which can be used as a brooch as well. Its multi function.
Tahmina: What inspired your collection?
Lily: I was inspired by Kandinsky and his paintings and the abstraction in his art.
Tahmina: Your designs are very colorful and all about art. How does the Serbian public accept your collections?
Lily: Its been only 2 days since my show and I already have good reactions and some orders. The yellow coat was sold right after the show.
Gili: Who is the women you design for?
Lily: I have no limits. I design for every woman who wants to be different who don’t want to be the same as the mass. In my last collection I had a coat with an Hawaiian print- a man bought it.
Gili: So there are no Gender limits as well.
Lily: Of course
Tom Lui owner of the London based Fashion Crossover was invited together with his partner Since Wang to discover the Serbian talents.
Tom: How do you differentiate yourself from the other Serbian designers?
Lily: My clothes are wearable but still not commercial. The pieces are unique and sold only in Serbia at the moment which allows me to I take good care of my customers and I don’t mass produce.
Gili: Are you looking to expand abroad?
Lily: Yes. I would like that.
Ruzica Nestorov half serbian half Ukrainian grew up in Belarus presented her first collection this Belgrade fashion week. Her Brand ATAMANSHA inspires to bring freedom to women through fashion. ‘’I wanted to connect with women’’. The sisterhood vibe between the models backstage was clear. Ruzica is here to bring women together.
Tom: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Ruzica: At first my inspiration was culture- Slavic culture of a warrior woman.
The political situation is very hard. It is very hard to progress and see the future, specially for young people. It was a lot of struggle for me in the process. This is why you can see notes of futuristic design in my collection.
Ana Ljubinković presented her Spring summer 2019 collection: ‘’I love Kitschy detail. Kitsch is my forever inspiration. I find it really amusing, fun and beautiful but I also think that a piece with Kitsch elements have to have esthetic knowledge in order to do Kitsch the right way. I think I can do it. At Least for my own standard.’’
Tom: What is your source of inspiration?
Ana: It is always changing. I always say that I don't care too much about fashion trends. I don't even know what the current trends are. I have a great visual memory and I am afraid that I'll remember something and it will interrupt my creative process.
I've graduated from the faculty of fine arts in the university of Belgrad with major in painting and that's why art is always important for me. My collections are grabbing the part of the artist that I am.
Tom: What are your plans for the future?
Ana: Now I am focusing on my other brand ‘’abo shoes’’ I work with my London PR (I.dea PR) to bring the brand to the next level. For the clothes I am looking to find a more basic lin with not so much handwork- something less complicated.
I am a creative mind. And I am focusing on the creative part for the future.
Tahmina: What advice you’ll give to younger designers?
Ana: They need to look in themselves to find the right inspirations. Here in Serbia there is no reason to do something comercial because people still love the big commercial brands. My advice is to be as original as they can and free minded in fashion and try new things until they find what works for them. That's the only way to stand out.
Tom: in which particular country you get the best feedback?
Ana: UK and US are great but I am really interested in the Asian market because I think I will fit there great.
Gili: Even though you expand internationally will you keep you Serbian identity?
Ana: Yes, Of course. I am here. I am still here.
Ana: Why not? I can still do everything from here when I find the way.
Thamina: What element in your clothes you think is Serbian?
Ana: it depend on the collections but I always finds something that I think is interesting about serbian history and we have great national costume with embroidery. We have elaborate details in our national costume and that inspired me.
Tahmina: You are so proud of being Serbian and I see that a lot of people in the fashion industry are proud of where they are from, Why do you think that so many people go back to their roots?
Ana: Because that's unique about them and when you step inside their history you will find more and more details that will inspire you.
Gili: You talk a lot about nostalgic, history and Kitsch yet your clothes are very edgy and almost futuristic in away.
Ana: I am always looking for creating a part of clothes that wasn't invented yet. Maybe we need something that we don't even have yet.
Gili: I understand that you prefer to have in your store more commercial and wearable items but you still create very artistic garments. Why?
Ana: In Serbia People will buy more commercial things. The handwork with pearls can be expensive and no one will but it here. It will be too pricey for them and I want people to wear and enjoy my clothes.
Gili: And for who do you make the more avangard part of the collection? No one in Serbia will wear it.
Ana: That is the most interesting part. I make time to create the more artistic pieces for brand awareness.
Gili: You said you're an artist, will you consider these over the top pieces your art?
This season BFW collaborated with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Belgrade to bring Starsica to the Serbian runway. Creative director and founder Ike Seungik Lee presented his collection for the third time in London Fashion Week and brought it for the first time to The Balkans. ‘’I feel success’’ Ike Seungik Lee told international press after his show.
Tahmina: What is the biggest different you’ve find between presenting you collection in London fashion week to Belgrade fashion week?
Lee: The guests in the shows were very different. In LFW there were more professionals from the fashion industry. In BFW there were more ‘’normal’’ people wanting to see my show. It was an event.
The unique current condition in Serbia led to the development of an almost underground fashion scene. The organisation of a fashion week in such a big scale needed investors but still won’t sell its name and remain Belgrade in title and in spirit. The platform gives a great exposure to local emerging designers, nourishes them and they show their loyalty to their roots.