Designblok Dreft Fashion Week 2011

Heather O'Brien looks back at an impressive series of shows by Czech designers

The first-ever Designblok Dreft Fashion Week was everything a fashion journalist could have hoped for -- well-established designers, clothing suitable for runways in either London or Paris, and, most importantly, good organization! The public shared my sentiments and over 4,000 people attended the first edition of Designblok Dreft Fashion Week for what I can assume will be a yearly staple in Prague.

While it may have been the first edition of Designblok Dreft Fashion Week, this was the 13th edition of Designblok itself, with the theme of "The City" taking center stage at this year's event. The previous 12 editions of Designblok have been influential: The festival was one of the first to showcase Czech and international designers whose work hadn't received much press attention here previously. This year's event was substantially different from those of previous years, however, with a nice mix of interiors, sustainable products and fashion blending together seamlessly to create a truly unique experience. Among the stand-outs at this year's Designblok were: Roberto Coin, a much sought-after Italian artisan known for his impeccable taste in jewelry-making; Adidas designer Jeremy Scott, whose recent designs were showstoppers in New York and London; and Petra Němcová, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition supermodel and VIP presenter.

With the theme of "The City" to the fore, Obecní dům was almost a prerequisite for Designblok's fashion section. "It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Prague and is centrally located," said Barbora Bergová, one of the event's organizers, and while the exterior glimmers brightly, the salons inside the well-known building are something that draws the eye back to a bygone era of Art Nouveau. The designers picked to show their Fall/Winter 2011 or Spring/Summer 2012 collections were representing the "very best of Czech fashion designers [along with] the best international designers," said Bergová. "We really want to thank everyone who believed in this project and gave it a chance."

The shows, which started earlier in the week, were mostly given over to international designers. I had decided to stick with the Czech designers, whose shows started on Saturday. The Czech designers thoroughly thought out their shows, which allowed journalists, photographers and attendees alike to be drawn into their vision. The music, models and clothing painted a picture of what sort of woman or man would best be represented by the clothing choices they were wearing.

Saturday's Fashion
Saturday started with much excitement as three young designers took the stage as part of Nokia's N9 selection series.

Ondřej Adámek
The clothing is outlandish but wearable -- a tough task considering some of the dresses honestly looked like bicycle streamers. Strips of satin, pieced together to create intricate folds, translated into wearable garments (dresses, tops, bustiers, and skirts), which played with both masculine and feminine themes. The models, with clean hair and make-up, were dressed in gunmetal, sea-foam, mushroom, black and light gold -- colors that lend themselves well to what I saw at Berlin Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2012.

Radana Ivančic
Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov seemed to be the inspiration for this sweet and girly collection. The color palette shifted from pastels (cotton-candy pink, baby blue and sunshine yellow) into a darker, more sinister palette (blood red, dark forest green and black) as the show progressed. Bows, which started off quite big and highly visible, slowly turned into a more grown-up version of themselves, as belts or small brooch-like objects worn on T-shirts or in the hair. The traditional trench coat, which every model wore at some point, was another staple item throughout Ms. Ivančic's show theme. While I personally loved the idea of mixing girly bows and pastels to invoke a girly, more playful cherub-like youth, I also admired the more sophisticated cuts that moved the collection away from a look reminiscent of a younger version of me growing up in the Southern United States.

Monika Drápalová
Andrew Wyeth's painting Christina's World could have been the muse for Miss Drápalová's collection. The dark atmosphere of a butcher's slaughterhouse inspired crisp, white button-down shirts and black jersey vests with silver buttons, which looked eerily similar to a butcher's coat circa 1990s American Psycho. As the fashion show continued, we moved away from the slaughterhouse and into exquisite silk maxi dresses in either tonal or floral repeat. The sheer silk's feminine structure was off-set by the very masculine qualities of leather, with grommets and snakeskin belts worn as a cross-body holster. The creativity and wearability of this Spring/Summer 2012 collection made it one of my favorites

Individual Shows: Saturday
Viktoria Vittori
The winner of Prague Fashion Weekend also showed her Autumn/Winter 2011 collection at Designblok Dreft Fashion Week, giving those who couldn't see the runway in the center of Prague a more intimate view of a promising new star. The clothes, which were a combination of Little Red Riding Hood, priest and medieval monk, were a nod to Christian history, complete with monastery hymnals set to a lively beat. The collection, while looking back at Christian history, is quite body-conscious, showing a woman's curves and "assets". The colors were neutral, sticking to a more earthly color palette.

Denisa Nová
DNB designer Denisa Nová's friends, plucked from the audience, captured intimate moments from her life -- a pompous fashion show, of the sort the designer despises, this most definitely was not. The music -- sounds of rain and mostly string instruments -- added a somber feel to this show. The clothes were well-made and looked effortlessly chic, while the colors -- black, charcoal, beige -- matched the somber mood. It literally felt like an emotional crisis occurring in front of you on stage.

Hana Zárubová
Debuted her Airforce collection to much fanfare. Along with the DNB show, it was one of the weekend's most sought-after tickets, and many other designers from the accessories world were seen fighting for whatever seat they could get, let alone the front-row spots coveted by editors and fashionistas alike. Ms. Zárubová's collection was full of military-style themes: high collars and strong shoulders were paired with "equestrian-style" leggings. Seams were shown in an inside-out fashion that managed a deconstructed look without looking messy. The materials used varied from jersey and wetsuit to actual parachute canvas used as a dress with a long train and a top complete with pulls.

Saturday featured an amazing set of talented designers that far surpassed anything I had expected. I had favorites and there were others that I thought could have done slightly better but, overall, the Czech designers' first day was a success.

Sunday: Dreft Black Card Winners
Zuzana Kubíčková

Dressing, the title of Ms. Kubíčková's show, was the quintessential Spring/Summer 2012 collection. Silk dresses with asymmetrical hems in colors like grey, candy pink, sea foam green, mauve and dark khaki propelled me into a whole new year, where flowers are in bloom and winter has already passed us by. Structured jackets done in men's suit fabric kept the masculine quality familiar from Fall/Winter 2011 but paired it with silk and satin to bring a feminine detail back to the look. As the collection continued, there were more satins and silks -- this time cording was attached, synched high at the waist, giving definition and shape to a material that is less than forgiving at times. Basket-weave dresses, skirts, and tops were by far my favorite elements of this collection, which was done in very soft colors: light pink and grey. This collection was cohesive, wearable, chic and timeless, and it stuck to a single easy-to-follow theme as the show moved through different fabric elements. This is the type of design talent that will ultimately put the Czech Republic on the map.

Zdeňka Imreczeová
Tuxedo-style trousers and single-breasted jackets with arm bands creating high shoulders were the name of the game at Zdeňka Imreczeová's show. Naval stripes on dresses were followed by gabardine-style dresses and skirts reminiscent of 1950s and 1960s Czechoslovakia. The unfinished seams that were thrown into the collection gave it an edge that differentiated it from the picnic dresses of a previous era, and they were a genuinely nice touch. The belts had a lot of movement, as did the fabric that Zdeňka picked for the collection. It was interesting and well thought-out but, going after Zuzana Kubíčková's stunning collection, it seemed a bit mundane.

La Perla Fashion Show
Cue music and women in tiny underwear and lingerie -- either sultry or "girl next door". This is what made the La Perla Fashion show so wonderful! The colors ranged from plum and burnt orange on the more "provocative" side to more "wholesome" white and light yellow. All of the pieces were sophisticated and tasteful, satisfying both women and men. Needless to say, this doesn't happen very often in the world of fashion. For those looking for a bit more excitement in their "under" pieces, there were stockings with tassels, pasties, and some other rather risqué items.

Sunday ended with the Grand Gala and after-parties galore for the crème de la crème of Prague's VIP scene. Designblok Dreft Fashion Week was on a par with many other larger trade and fashion shows around the globe, and the participating designers displayed the growing talent found in the Czech Republic.

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