Romanian vanguard fashion design – between agony and ecstasy

They say that “promise is the ability to disappoint people”(Cyril Connolly) and this is a true thing if we were to take a close look at the direct or indirect “promises” made by the pioneers of the Romanian fashion design vanguard. Ok, I know, this is not exactly the most optimistic way to start an article, or the most elegant one. Yet, from the very beginning, it must be said that the potential of the Romanian fashion design school, regardless of the artificial manner in which it was presented through media outlets, PR or regional relationships, has succeeded, in a relatively short period of time, to deny any ability of self-regeneration and self-support.

Indifference quickly replaced enthusiasm, personal signature has become the funnel of a black hole where clichés flow out, and the impossibility of designing a middle-school business-fashion-plan has failed with Balkan conversations had at coffee shops corners. The rational and epistemological analysis’ were replaced by the minor, internecine wars and the scattered financings (provided by the state, PR agencies or advertising companies) – have been extremely unequally shared between B or C players and have disappeared into non-being. All these, plus another series of events, not mentioned yet (the minimum decency stops me from getting into details) have served as deathblows to the incipient Romanian fashion vanguard.

Egos are extremely useful (especially in the field of fashion) if they serve a long term cause. The valuable people of the Romanian fashion industry know each other, even without saying it and they respect each other’s value, acknowledging it through hate, envy and hyena-like instincts.

Ok! All this introduction is after all worthless, especially because the speech has too many similarities with the astrological-anthroposophist analysis of a certain Mariana Cojocaru in “Un show păcatos”. Practically speaking, what happened? They say that you cannot win a fight if someone does not personally attack you and that the true admiration indicator (that can never be false) is when you are being badmouthed. Donc!

Doina Levintza has had a fascinating perseverance and succeeded to besiege her personality and seize her fascinating creativity (in her own environment), thus failing to become a true “Mother Zina”.

A distinct and elegant (both literally and metaphorically) character in the (yet) unwritten history of the Romanian vanguard – Venera Arapu. Her diverse businesses, all connected and after all hollowed, but also the hiatuses in fashion design, have transformed her from the First Romanian Designer to ever participate at the Paris Fashion Week into a designer that has participated at the Paris Fashion Week, thus missing out a maestro career.

Olaf Gyarfas is a mystical designer, who is present and at the same time absent; after a stop at Rozalb de Mura, he has made another one: Patzaikin. So, with him, I have failed wishing to find out to the last who is Olaf Gyarfas – the athlete of the Romanian fashion design business – and what he actually wants to do.

Ana Alexe, an exceptional creative character is discrete -in fact too discreet (this trait not always being a virtue)- has an organic & transcendental & dramatic design. She did not set out to become a rebellious “bishop” on the Romanian vanguard fashion chess board. Yet, she has succeeded in becoming a pawn that has made several times some moves which ended with checkmate, with a Kasparov-like artistry.

I was still in high school when I used to watch the Romanian fashion design outlook suggested by Răzvan Ciobanu. Short – very short – time after that, the unorthodox details of his life and career made him a guest at Capatos’s show much too often (even Cătălin Botezatu used to go to “Acces direct”) and at the Real Fashion Weeks much too seldom. Thus, he has failed commencing the discovery/clearing of a road that was later opened by Carmen Secăreanu.

Carmen Secăreanu is the first designer in the short history of Romanian fashion vanguard who has completely changed the paradigm and made a functional redundant design; but, later on, this has transformed into a Procust bed. Nevertheless, Carmen Secăreanu succeeded in creating a school, where, unfortunately, the only existing teacher (herself) did not learn that pedagogical noblesse means that the apprentice excels the maestro. For example, Lucian Broscățean…

Lucian Broscățean, the great hope of the local vanguard fashion design, after making some fouettes and grand jete moves for the European audience of Bebelplatz, has missed out, in a very short while, a potential first-ballerina career in the new wave of the Romanian fashion vanguard – right at the National Romanian Opera in Iași. the choice for an early university career, but also the over-intellectualized esthetical self-boycott have destroyed and hindered beyond any hope what was about to come.

From this point onward, I have stopped hoping that the Romanian fashion design can take a place on the top European map on its own, even after some other names have come up in the battle: 109, M12, Lana, Cătălin Vălean, Alex Tunsu, Lucian Rusu, etc.

After all, the time of vanguard passes away and merely discussing about it – as I have also tried to do – is obsolete. This is exactly the reason why I believe that the strategic move successfully performed by Raf Simons versus Dior is a much more interesting approach, but it is not this issue’s object of interest.

Yet, I wanted to emphasize the fact that the vanguard has moved its profile, but has also changed its focus: the strategy moves towards Andreea Bădală, Valentina Vidrașcu, Adelina Ivan, Cristina Săvulescu, Lucia Maria Hohan – who are now worth more attention and a more subtle analysis. But, I shall cover all of these matters in a future issue, if I manage to survive the psychotronic attacks following this article. Yet, as a last less eschatological reasoning, I believe that the names mentioned above, and also some others, create a particular profile of the Romanian design business, if one is curious enough to leave behind the curtain formed by ventilated nomads strategically placed in various areas of Romania.

The Romanian fashion design business is made of the creative effervescence that some of the names mentioned above have to offer, of the possibility to function even with one infected, but also of the multitude of creative, paradoxical and full of emphasis profiles; and, all of these put it in the public eye in an authentic and original way.