Best of 2011

Fashion writer Heather O'Brien picks the past year's outstanding Czech artists and designers

2011 has come and gone, and it was a phenomenal year for talented artists and designers in the Czech Republic. Here are my top 10 picks of the most outstanding talent for 2011. Did your favorites make the list?

10. Sisterconspiracy
Best known for men's clothing, the brand could be found at every major design show this year. From Designblok Dreft Fashion Week to designSUPERMARKET the two designers behind Sisterconspiracy gave Czech men something that was less streetwear/rave that one could wear at work without feeling out of place.

9. Yoka Sola
Feminine lingerie made by a Frenchwoman at a price that's comfortable for almost any woman living in Prague. Materials are imported from Italy or France and are sewn in the Czech Republic. There are only a few styles to choose from at the moment but what I have seen of hers has been wonderful and elegant. It’s everything that you would expect from the French.

8. Zuzana Kubíčková
The designer debuted her Spring/ Summer 2012 collection at Design Dreft Fashion Week. Silks, satins, and organza with delicate feminine touches was on trend and left most in the audience blissfully unaware that we still had five more months of wretched winter to come (sigh).

7. Zuzana Serbák
Her collection is high fashion plus cutting-edge technology -- every shoe being unique has its perks as well. For those who are interested in the more original type of shoe -- think Irregular Choice, United Nude, or Terra Plana -- these are the new shoes to have in your collection.

6. Trudi for Dolls - Jewels
The jewelry designer that we have come to love for her intricate beading has teamed up with LeAndrea to create Projekt Belka -- a new line of clothing that debuted at designSUPERMARKET this year. Most of the materials are made from silk or cashmere (from the actual Kashmir region of India) and are in a color palette that lends well to any season and any climate.

5. Ether
Pony skin and suede leathers, in brilliant colors like forest green, electric blue and sunshine yellow. All materials are bought in Italy -- giving your handbag a sophisticated feel. For those of you with young daughters or who are looking for something original, Eva also makes small "mommy and me" purses along with baby booties so that your daughter can look just as chic as you.

4. Hanuš Lamr
Nature is the muse for this jewelery designer. Still a relative unknown in the Czech Republic, he trained as a sculptor and works almost exclusively with precious metals and stones.

3. Zuzana Veselá
Her new 2011/2012 collection, Amissa, was first shown at Prague Fashion Weekend in September. Clean lines and cuts are her signature style -- something that continues even as fashions change. Her collections continue to push the boundaries, moving away from the "cottage industry-style" clothing so frequently found on to a sophisticated RTW line that changes the persona of Czech women.

2. Jane Bond
The pseudonym with a twist conquered the Czech Republic this year, not only featuring in numerous print ads but also on a major television program, Sama doma. Jana continues to dazzle us with her unique ability to find creativity in the most unlikely of circumstances. Of course, we also have the Czech woman to thank for her rapid rise to fame.

1. Lure
Nastassia Aleinkava's & Janja Prokić's design project is my number one pick for 2011, for no other reason than the designs are unbelievably gorgeous. Rarely is there a moment that I am surprised or awe-struck by designs or designers -- but Aleinkava & Prokić completely raise the bar for the Czech Republic. They show that the Czech Republic is a viable source of high fashion in a country that is obsessed with the throwaway kind.

The bird brooches in the collection range from birds of prey to land-fowl, all designed by Janja, and are handmade, with each feather and beak expertly crafted. The hours and precision involved in making something that, by most accounts, is anatomically correct requires patience and passion.

It's hard to describe the raw beauty of Aleinikava's designs, which mix a flirtation with Gothic themes with a touch of whimsy, giving the wearer of her rings, necklaces and brooches something entirely unique.

From left to right: Lure (Marcel Stecker); Janja Prokić (Danica Kovačević); Lure (Marcel Stecker)

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