A Guide to Prague Designers and Their Boutiques

New York Times

It may not be mentioned in the same breath as Milan or Paris, but Prague has a strong and creative fashion scene.

“To find it, you have to look for it,” said Veronika Benesova. After working for a couple of commercial labels, the designer decided to strike out on her own; in September, she opened her new boutique, Sophistic (Jana Masaryka 52; sophistic.cz), in the pretty Vinohrady neighborhood. She worked out of her apartment for about a year, until she had enough business to open her own shop.

Her latest collection is inspired by a painting by Bridget Riley called “Kiss.” The geometric “kiss” of the painting shows up in both the patterns and cuts of the designer’s autumn pieces, which are trendy in an understated but eye-catching way. “I always want elegance and femininity,” Ms. Benesova said.

Sophistic isn’t the only shop in town selling original Czech designs. Head to the Josef quarter of Old Town where a number of boutiques are located. Look for graceful knitwear at Boheme (Dusni 8; boheme.cz), the comfortably chic designs at Timoure et Group (V Kolkovne 6 and Martinska 4; timoure.cz), sophisticated stylings of Hana Havelkova (Dusni 10; havelkova.com), and the trendy dresses at Boutique Tatiana (Dusni 1; tatiana.cz).

In an effort to unite their efforts, eight designers have banded together to form a marketing association called Czech Fashion Center, where you can find a map of area designers and links to individual Web sites.

While the designers are here, and their clothes are definitely creative, Ms. Benesova still sees a Czech public wary of anything too fashionable.

“Czech women are still a bit scared to try something extravagant,” she said. “I still see lots of black and grey, and mainly commercial labels; it’s becoming better though, slowly Prague is becoming more adventurous and ready for designers.”