“It’s a story – almost all our clothes have a story.”
That’s Lucia Brinzanik talking about FolkLove. FolkLove isn’t some museum exhibition or history book. It’s a shop sharing and promoting something old that has now become new again – yep, folk has gone fashionable.
“It’s our history, it’s in us, but nowadays, people aren’t so close to it anymore,” said Brinzanik, founder and owner. The small FolkLove shop opened in Žižkov in November 2013, with their e-shop opening about a month later. There’s a small selection of clothing, jewelry, and accessories to see, and a visit also allows for the chance to speak with Brinzanik, who passionately tells the stories and inspirations connected with each piece.
One of the jewelry designers whose work she finds fascinating is Petra Toth. Brinzanik says Toth really studies the history and puts it into every piece she creates.
“I try to bring into my jewelry elements typical for our culture and their colorfulness and also to give it a soul, a voice,” Toth said. “A voice that speaks of times coming to us from farther and farther away. Because the heritage of our tradition and of the Slovak folk ornament ages faster that ever before, it fades in our memories and our hearts.”
Toth explained each of her collections take about nine months and consists of about 60 pieces. Currently she’s working on the design and production of the crown for Miss Universe Slovakia 2014, an honor she has had twice before. Her pieces are bold, beautiful and sure to draw admiring comments.
“I use many different materials which are quite unconventional in traditional jewelry making, when it comes to their combination,” Toth said. “Besides metals like yellow copper and steel, I very much like to use crystal and traditional folk ribbons. It has become characteristic for me. The reason is the broad color spectrum of the hand embroidered ornaments.”
Embroidery is a huge inspiration for many of the designers Brinzanik features, including Lubica Poncik. Poncik photo-shopped a picture of old embroidery and had it printed on different materials.
“Her stuff is beautiful, she takes inspiration from folklore and transfers it to a modern style and technique,” she said. “I found it nice that she wants to transform this history into something we can wear in our daily lives.”
Poncik was also inspirational to Brinzanik personally – it was in speaking with her she first got the idea to open FolkLove.
“I was on maternity leave and looking to do something, something I like, something for me,” she said. “A friend was posting a lot of Lubica’s (Poncik) stuff on Facebook and I found the idea fascinating.”
Turns out Lucia and Lubica went to university together but didn’t realize it thanks to name changes due to marriage.
“Lubica said it was really difficult for Czech and Slovak designers to have a place to show,” Brinzanik said. “I thought, this is beautiful, it is a piece of us and it should be seen.”
Brinzanik says when looking for designers she wants to know what their inspiration is.
“It’s often historical or family origins, but I’m open to anything, we have so many new designers, the pieces are always changing,” she said. “And it’s so motivating to see the designers doing their work with such passion.”
Puojd is the brand of Slovak designer Michaela Bednárová. The designs are fun; pea pod leggings, t-shirts printed with the Slovak national emblem (you probably wouldn’t guess it) and other almost geometric prints from nature.
“Their newest collection is inspired by the woods, the texture from trees,” Brinzanik said. “They photographed it and printed it on different materials. I like them because they use new materials with classic cuts.”
All of the designers featured take traditional patterns and put a modern spin on them; fruit and flowers are transformed and put on dresses, leggings and coats. The materials are quality and comfortable, the cuts interesting and different.
Besides pieces from Toth, FolkLove also features other jewelry including Kristýna Španihelová whose pieces look like fine lace and include alabaster, pearl and onyx accents. She draws the patterns from her mother’s embroidery work.
Hogo Fogo makes whimsical headbands and Polish brand Goshico has fabulous handmade felt bags. Little goodies can also be found, like Slovak blue print shopping bags and printed tights. The designers do limited collections, so when it’s gone, it’s gone, but the buyer knows they have something unique.
Folk as an inspiration is in no way limited to individual designers.
“When we look at the last collections of well-known fashion designers like Dolce & Gabbana or Valentino, it is evident that they base these collections on the origins of folklore,” Toth said. “The return to original tradition is apparent.”
So is folk a trend then? Brinzanik doesn’t think so.
“The trend is the pieces don’t go out of fashion – they aren’t only for one season,” she said. “It has lived and will continue to live as a modern tradition and with what is in us.”