Date With a Master

Jana Heyduková, headband designer and milliner with Jane Bond, discusses her work

I agreed to meet Jana, the Jane Bond designer, at Cafe Louvre off of Národní avenue, in the center of Prague. The café, which opened in 1902, is one of my favorite places to have coffee in the center. There is so much old-world charm: women who are lunching with friends; men puffing on their cigarettes while reading the latest news from Lidové noviny. It's the type of place you could easily mistake for a fancy coffeehouse in Paris or Vienna, but at a fraction of the price. This was the first opportunity that I have had to talk to the headband designer and milliner about her work, how she got inspired to create such whimsical pieces and what her plans are for the future.

I arrived early for the interview, as I have a habit for being perpetually late for all important functions. Jana, dressed in all black and the most adorable Irregular Choice shoes I have seen yet, met me about five minutes later and we took our seats. Deciding we were both famished we ordered lunch.

The basic get-to-know-you questions ensued:

Me: Where are you from originally?

Jana: Hořovice. It's known for its chateau, but I am not a country girl! I love the city!

Me: What did you study in school? Design or something completely different?

Jana: Public Relations and Communications. But we ended up studying a lot about politics because one of my professors loved it.

Jana is incredibly knowledgeable about the Czech political situation and has "worries", as she has put it, about the complacent manner in which her countrymen seem to take their freedom for granted. She said that she too has become a little tired of the scandals but wonders if there is any way to really, actually change things. We bounce to Egypt and Libya and the homegrown revolutions that are popping up all across North Africa and the Middle East. We both agree that it's great that a group of people can create change, hopefully a lasting one.

I ask about her favorite food. "Oh, meat and sauces and breads! I love meat and sushi! I can't have veg, though, as it makes me really ill."

"I can't even have this parsley on my plate," she adds pointing to the small sprig that is now sitting to the side. Jana has always had a problem with vegetables, ever since she was little, but for someone who only eats carbs,  protein and sweets (chocolate is another favorite) she has managed to stay really slim!

I am curious to know how a self-proclaimed meat- and bread-addict and lover of politics got into designing headbands. Let's be honest, it's not exactly the normal route that one would take into the fashion and design industry. She tells me about growing up during Communism and how the city would hold markets on Arbesovo náměstí in Prague 5. Her mother, a jack-of-all-trades seamstress, would drag young Jana along to help sell her mother's wares: blouses, skirts, etc. It was the one thing in Prague that was, as Jana describes it, "unique" in a city of dull, indistinguishable clothing. After the fall of Communism both Jana and her mother owned stores in Prague, selling her mother's clothing there instead of on the market stall. It only lasted a short time, but her mother has continued running her own shop outside of Prague and it gave Jana the entrepreneurial spirit to look into ventures of her own.

The headband design work happened "by accident," she says. "I fell in love with this headband from H&M for 400 CZK. I thought that it was really expensive and I couldn't imagine paying 400 CZK for something that was mass-produced, so I didn't buy it. I left the store and saw a girl who I knew wearing the headband and thought, I can make them and make them better. I started making them for myself, then a friend wanted one, and then a friend of a friend and so on... Soon I figured I could try and sell them as a part-time job. I decided to showcase at Code:Mode and I sold out of everything after the first day!"

Keep in mind that this designer only started her collection of headbands a year ago and has quickly become a great success, with articles and photo shoots in magazines such as Žena a život, Elle, Dolce Vita, Čilichili and Storey. During the fall, Code:Mode asked Jane Bond to participate in their fashion show and have asked her again for the Spring Code:Mode show taking place in Prague April 15-17, 2011.

With more shows and editorials on the horizon, Jane Bond has been busy fine-tuning her new creations for Spring 2011. Most noticeable is a large amount of butterfly headbands ranging from subtle to "full on". Hand-sewn beads with vintage appeal will correspond nicely to this season's lace trend. Feathers ranging from peacock, to pheasant, back to something that is less ostentatious will make you want to dress in all white so as not to take away from the work of art on your head! The headbands made by Jana range from 300 CZK for less complicated pieces to 1,000 CZK for more intricate ones, which can take days to make! If the arsenal of headbands that Jane Bond has is not "precisely" what you are looking for you can always special order something. For the bride- to-be, Jana also creates one-of-a-kind bridal headbands or hats ranging from 1,200 CZK to 2,000 CZK in price. If there are any non-Czech-speakers that are interested in buying something special order, or just have trouble reading the Czech-only website, you can contact Jana and she will help you through the process.

The future for Jane Bond won't be fading into darkness anytime soon. She has recently descended into the blogosphere with a Czech/English website and, for the long-neglected fashionista living in Prague, the English-language version is a very welcomed edition and has subsequently quenched my thirst for fashion in a city where not many designers are willing to risk writing in English. Her plan is bold for a late-twentysomething: she hopes to open another store in Prague 1 where she would sell other fabulous goods, ranging from shoes to jewelry. (Western women will rejoice at hearing that these would include some of Europe's and America's favorite fashion brands... no, not Tommy Hilfiger.) Knowing her personal style and design style, I pray daily that this will happen sooner rather than later! She has a love for all things fashionable and cool in a city where most expats think that Czech women have forgotten how to be women -- she hasn't forgotten and always looks fabulous!

Jane Bond
-- Jana's e-shop is fully stocked with all things Jane Bond
La Femme Mimi
, Štěpánská 51, Prague 1
Diva Design Shop, Mikulandská 2, Prague 1
Julius, Ostrovní ulice 20, Prague 1
, Celetná 29, Prague 1

Jane Bond on Facebook

-- April 15-17 in Prague 8-Karlín

• Check Jana's weblog or Facebook page for upcoming shows

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