The journey to Novi Sad where the very first Serbia Fashion Week took place was sunny just like my childhood memories..I was in the flattest part of the land I was born in and slightly worried of any upheavals that may lay ahead..
The fashion week I was about to attend was a new of it’s kind as part of the European Fashion Council’s latest initiative to wake up this region of the world after decades of nightmarish reality and stagnation.This was also the only international fashion week that was able to spell my name properly.
It was also obvious from the first glance that Serbia was in a desperate need of COLOUR and who better to start the trend than iconic Spanish designer, Agatha Ruiz De La Prada whose black-less show kicked-off the SFW. Having Agatha and her heart-inspired production was also a true sign that an international fashion circus has finally arrived in Serbia.
It was also very important to understand a little bit of Serbian ‘philosophy’ when it comes to organisation or lack of it as I was able to teach my international colleagues and collaborators a native phrase that resonated throughout the event. NEMA VEZE or ‘it doesn’t matter’ because nothing really mattered ( or matters in a large scale of things) and everything gets done in the end.
Serbs also have a natural knack of turning the international events into a family affair. They first charm guests with their unparalleled hospitality and ‘business ‘lunches and dinners that last for hours on end. In the case of SFW they’ve fed their normally starved fashion front-rowers with five course meals in restaurants that resembled their own homes (aka Spaletov Kucerak or Kucerda na lakat) and then gave them the taste of their seductive ,live-music infused night life they are famed for around the world. And then they suck-you-into helping around the house..like all families do.
Model wearing Zvonko Markovic
The true barometer of any fashion week is what happens backstage. This is where all the real creation happens and where you see what makes a certain collection great or not. With SFW we had the ‘set of Kusturica movie’ ( as my French colleague Olivier Ronot observed) with all the fashion and non-fashion ingredients chaotically packed together. In the midst of all the chaos there was calm and unsmiling face of Jelena Mladenovic ( of Aleksandar Joksimovic & Mirjana Maric YU fashion era of the 60s and 70s)) who coached and choreographed the models throughout the day with an iron grip ( ‘ma covece, pista je praznaaaa’ -‘ the catwalk is empty maaaaaan!!!!!!) Did I mentioned that she also chain-smoked backstage like pretty much everyone else?
‘Oh, it’s just like Paris in it’s hey-day” remarked Eymeric Francois ( member of Chambre de Syndicale and a Haute Coturier to boot) who actually volunteered to run the SFW backstage…
Model wearing Eymeric Francois with him in the background..
…and the other Parisian guest ( Marcellious Jones from ‘Fashion Insider’) jumped in to help with truly lovely looking Serbian boys who managed to have a lasting impression on all of us…
Serbian girls were another story. Famed for their beauty and sex-appeal they rarely blossom into great professional models because they were brought up to believe that becoming one is simply beneath them. I understand how they feel about it far too well..I turned down enough offers for modelling when I first came to London one of them being a Central St Martins Graduation show..My colleague, Caroline Issa, still does not believe me that I was never a model.. and to this day I am driving my collaborators crazy when I do not want to be either photographed or filmed ..or reluctantly do so every-now-and-then..Therefore I was in perfect position to understand the girls at SFW who couldn’t wait for each show to be over..or were even mocking the clothes they were wearing..Until some magical creations started talking to them..
It happened during the show of Parisian Couturier, Eymeric Francois who brought his acclaimed corset-collection to SFW..All of a sudden we’ve witnessed the girls blossoming backstage..checking the mirror far too often and somehow trying to be alone with the clothes..I’ve witnessed the transformation far too often at many fashion weeks around the world but this was a true home coming for me..
Miraculously SFW has also managed to present the collections of around 25 designers from around Europe with designers coming from all the neighbouring countries ( Hungary, Bulgaria,Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina) and some further away ( Ukraine, Belarus, Czech Republic) …
..resembling sometimes the Eurovision Song Contest according to another esteemed guest of SFW, Donald Potard, the man who created Jean-Paul Gaultier house and worked alongside him for more than 25 years. It was this perfect gentleman of French fashion who not only set the tone for all the week long events at Serbia Fashion Week but also the one who taught us all that in fashion you need heart and generosity not only to have a lasting impact but also to enjoy it to the fullest. As a President of the Jury for all the awards at the closing Gala event he wholeheartedly gave Serbia Fashion Week 12 points!!! ( Serbie, Douze Pointe)
With Donald Potard ( on the right) at SFW
And as for me who came to SFW so reluctantly at first .I think that Novi Sad sensed it well and managed to inscribe a clear message for me to read..Alongside the left bank of Danube it says ( in Serbian) LANA, VOLIM TE ( Lana, I Love You) Now, you tell me – what more a girl can expect from one city?