Ioana Ciolacu or the Bucharest-Berlin axis

I must admit that, I have heard of Ioana Ciolacu the same time with everyone, on the TV news. The fact that a Romanian youngster has won for the first time the famous contest “Designer for Tomorrow”, organized at Berlin Fashion Week, has caught everyone’s attention. The award granted by a jury including the famous Stella McCartney – but especially the cosmopolitan clothes, has rapidly included the name Ioana Ciolacu among the Romanian important designers.

For those who are hearing your name for the first time….Who is Ioana Ciolacu?

Let’s get acquainted then! My name is Ioana Ciolacu-Miron, I am an active designer, a passive architect and I pragmatically manage my own business. But, first and foremost, I am committed to beauty, nature and optimism.

You are among the winners of Berlin’s famous contest”Designer for Tomorrow”, where the main member of the jury was Stella McCartney. Tell us a little bit about this experience.

Looking back to the whole Designer for Tomorrow experience, I could conclude with a piece of advice for anyone who has desires that seem far from being fulfilled: is important that you try! That was my case; I have given it a try. And I have succeeded only the second time. Regardless of the inner tribulations, I believe it is my duty and our duty to try. Somehow, the rest has followed on its own. I got in contact with some professionals who, for one year, did a great job guiding and training me in the fashion industry, both in theory, but especially in practice. So, I got in contact with the glamorous side of fashion: from a promotion tour of my own collection to Stella’s backstage dinner parties, inspirational trips, celebrities and all that jazz.

Your clothes are hiding a perfect mélange between womanhood and architectural structures. The poetical simple graphics are already your personal signature. What is in fact the line of design you enjoy the most to slide on while creating?

I love being placed under certain categories because it helps me shape and define my identity. Otherwise, I am blind and I only rely on my intuition, on the materials I work with and on the human body. Regarding the line, I think I apply the one thing I have learnt with most difficulty: cloth must be worn. As consequence, my patterns tend to be quite simple and I spend lots of time trying tofind innovative materials from adjacent industries and to apply them to my designs. The line is the result of all of the above and I intentionally refused to stop at something in particular. I am always learning something new and have difficulties in defining my limits until I learn all there is. But I know for a fact that I like the freshness of a new idea, its application and the level of sustainability it can provide.

This last year, fashion design was built not only from fantasy and concept but also from…material. What are the materials you work with?

The materials are wonderful! For example, I know that in the construction field there are over 200 new materials invented each year, and thefashion industry invents even more. I prefer the materials that have subtle contrasts and unexpected associations that sharpen the senses. Certainly this fact makes my work harder in terms of wearability, but I believe this is where creativity lies. I like working with fine and light materials. I am fascinated with their level of opacity. On the other hand, I use rigid materials, processed for other industries, such as isolation foam or ecological leather for tapestries, in order to create structure. There is a desire for contrast that lies within me. Both light and also more rough materials are afterwards processed through printing, stencil processing, laser cutting, overlaying. I work by running 3D scans on the tailoring models, fact that allows me both accuracy and a three-dimensional development of the overlaying patterns of the volumetric analysis. I believe that this crossroad of techniques is the remaining of my long education as an architect.

What is the intellectual and human profile of Ioana Ciolacu, the product consumer?

I have always found this question complicated, yet I have quite an evasive answer that leaves room for a certain ease in approaching my brand: I create for the woman I’d like to be, the woman I aim to be.

Your showroom is located in Bucharest, Luterană Street. Why not Berlin?

This is for one simple reason: the DfT sponsorship has offered me the possibility to establish my workplace in any city I desire. At that time I was living in London so maybe the logical thing to do was to have my workshop there; or in Berlin, where I had my team. But, penetrating into and understanding of the industry made me realized its future course. That is why, I chose Bucharest. I chose to produce locally, to be able to control each of the production steps, to encourage fair work and in the same time build my brand’s image. And, when necessary, I travel. The fact that my workshop is in Bucharest and not in some fashion capital was a decision wanted also by the future. Beyond the fantastic costs (that the sponsorship provided to me), a workshop located abroad would not have provided the luxury of producing in a fair manner. And producing clothes on ships or in jails for a lower price is not an option for me. I know these are things that nobody wants to hear, but, seeing what the real options of a brand since the beginning, but having gone beyond the in house production, I chose to plan an organic growth that has potential for the future, regardless what exactly is that future. Certainly, the possibility of having working bases in other countries remains open, but for now this is not a necessity.

What would you conclude about your presences within Berlin Fashion Week?

It was unreal, short, and intense; there was no sleep and infinite opportunities.

In your opinion, who is the designer that will have an ultimate influence on fashion in the next 10 years?

We have stopped a long time ago functioning with illustrious generation leaders (that is because we have evolved to something else and because it is an absolute relative thing). And, in 10 years time, totalitarianism shall be all the less a guide. Yet, I believe in the people that feel alike and unite their power to make changes. Or, if these forces shall not succeed to make the change, then it is possible to have new leaders born by radical social changes. But I would not bet my money on anyone, I am more likely to have favorite designers because of purely emotional reasons.

How do you feel the “temperature” of fashion in Romania, in Bucharest?

It is eclectic, just beginning, without any definite basis. A perfect ground to build on.

What is your favorite quote on fashion?

I have looked for a quote of Suzy Menkes about how all the people who matter in the fashion industry are very polite and fantastic, and only some of those who aspire are mean, but I couldn’t find it. But, I have found this one: “We know that creative people have all sorts of demons”, Suzy Menkes