After an age of dullness and monotony, the Polish fashion scene has come out in style. Events such as the Fashion Designer Awards have helped young designers break through while raising awareness among Poles about the local fashion scene. The winner Dominika Syczyńska was awarded a fashion internship in Tel Aviv, and other finalists Dustin Poraziński and Sophie Kula are considered the next big names in the Polish fashion.
We talk to JOANNA SOKOŁOWSKA-PRONOBIS, the founder and creative director of the Fashion Designer Awards
by Małgosia KRAKOWSKA
This year’s edition is titled Tribute to Colors – why did you choose to put an accent on colors?
Colors are the biggest wins of this year’s edition. I’ve been organizing this event since 2008 and every edition has had its own unique theme: last year, it was black that dominated the event. But spring has a new mood, it’s a bold take on how we feel about ourselves and the world. Colors work for everyone, without the need to reinvent yourself. This is also one of the reasons why the Fashion Designer Awards collection includes designs made of embroidered fabrics of different colors.
Is this the reason why you’ve decided to use colors as a ‘silver thread’ that runs through everything?
Definitely! We want to inspire young people not to be afraid of unique solutions, to steer away from triviality and to play with colors. People always use colors as symbols and fashion is all about symbols. They express the way people feel; the way we wear our clothes sends signals to others about who we are, what we stand for and so on.
The special guest is Yaron Minkovsky – a top Israeli fashion designer famous for his work with colors…
If Yaron was one of the finalists he’d definitely win the contest – his collection is absolutely stunning. Yaron loves to experiment with colors and he is not afraid of courting controversy. His last collection was influenced by Israeli and Arab culture and politics. During one show at Tel Aviv Fashion Week, Minkovsky drapped models over in the keffiyeh, the Arab headdress.His message is clear: don’t be afraid to disrupt existing conventions in fashion.
How does the Fashion Designer Awards help young designers?
I created this event because I saw how difficult it was for an aspiring designer to get media attention. The concept not only promotes young talents, but it also creates an awareness among them that they need to be able to sell their projects to make a living. Some of our winners, such as Olga Idzik, have since launched successful brands and have enjoyed significant commercial success.
Young designers must also understand the power of social media. If you don’t have a profile on Snapchat or Instagram, your projects simply don’t exist. This is the way to beat your competition.
I believe that our event creates real opportunities for young designers to break through the glass ceiling in the fashion sector. I can’t believe that when a young individual goes abroad to do an internship program, he/she won’t benefit from that. That’s why the main prize was a fashion internship in Tel Aviv.
Polish street style isn’t too extravagant. Why do Polish people tend to stray away from colors in fashion?
Poles prefer earthy colors, blacks and whites. And so orange, green, cobalt or fuchsia stay rather off the market. Our climate also influences the way we dress: the season tends to reflect the what we wear. In spring, people are cheerful and full of enthusiasm, but in wintertime people choose colors that match the mood.
Why there is no ‘look-at-me’ approach visible on the Polish street?
You can blame that on the previous political system: it attempted to eradicate individualism and originality. But times have changed and Polish fashion along with them. Warsaw is very specific in this regard. One should not forget that after the Second World War, this city was virtually non-existent. It had no right to exist, but we managed to rebuild it by reassembling every brick. Warsaw is a wonderful metaphor for us as Poles and everything we do – including fashion. After the years of communism, we are finally free. And Polish fashion is definitely out of the closet. This is absolutely fantastic!
Take a look at pl. Trzech Krzyży, ul. Mysia or ul. Mokotowska Street. Each time I host the Fashion Designer Awards, we invite our special guests for a walk down the beautiful Mokotowska and they love the experience.
Who do you cooperate with?
The Fashion Designer Awards closely cooperate with the prestigious Polish art schools, such as the International School of Costume and Fashion Design (MSKPU) and Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and Łódź. More than 200 art schools in Poland recommend Fashion Designer Awards. These art schools belong to the best in Europe, and are places where students learn to treat fashion as a form of contemporary art. You can see that in their designs.
But why do top designers still avoid the Polish fashion market?
Frankly speaking, I don’t know. We’re in Europe, we enjoy the benefits of being a member of the European Union, we travel freely and frequently and we are much better off economically. Top designers, however, still prefer London, Milan, Athens or Prague. It’s disappointing. Luckily, in terms of creativity and artistry, Polish designers do not back down to western designers and know how to create fresh impetus within Polish fashion.