We met with Polish designer Gosia Baczynska in order to discuss political challenges in Eastern Europe and how they are interpreted in fashion, the struggle of an independent designer in Paris, and Henry Miller as a source of inspiration for her latest Spring/Summer 2015 collection.
MODEM: Before talking about your latest womenswear collection, we’d like to know more about your Fall/Winter 2014/15, as it was mainly inspired by military style... BACZYNSKA: It's a family story. It was actually inspired by my memories: images that I had in mind of my family, that left Ukraine because of the political turmoil and decided to go West. Funnily - or rather sadly - enough, my show took place in Paris when the conflict in Ukraine escalated. That said, it was not a premeditated act related to the political news, it is just my personal story that built on everything else.
MODEM: For ‘Black Spring’, your latest Spring/Summer 2015 collection, Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments have been your guiding thread. Can you tell us more about this particular reference? BACZYNSKA: It’s a manifest, I totally agree with Henry Miller and his 11 commandments. Even if Miller was a writer, his mantras make perfect sense for any artist or designer out there. It’s about creation and discipline, and proving that both fit perfectly together - and it’s most of all a form of self-therapy. If you apply these commandments to your everyday life, it might help you to not become completely crazy (smiles).
MODEM: How did you interpret these commandments throughout your collection? BACZYNSKA: I wanted to play with these statements - they become an ornamental detail when printed with the golden foil on a simple black dress, or a mysterious code when popping from inside the pleats. I wanted to tell a story related to Miller’s bohemian life in Paris. “Keep human! Go places, see people, drink if you feel like it” or “Don’t be a draught horse. Work with pleasure only” have been transferred onto blouses, skirts, dresses and even shoes. They come either as printed inscriptions or hand-written sentences and scribbles.
MODEM: Do you have this form of discipline in your everyday life; or does this manifest solely apply to your clothes? BACZYNSKA: I’m trying, but it’s not always that easy. As Henry Miller said, ‘if you can’t create you can work’ - but it’s really hard to forget about creation, even if I try to work with pleasure only (smiles). I am established in Praga, a city district of Warsaw, where I have a my own space - my atelier/showroom/boutique. It’s a very creative area - think of Berlin’s hip areas, if you want a comparison. I’ve been working there for the past 17 years and I’ve made a name for myself in Poland. Now, the challenge is to find the same recognition as a fashion designer in Paris. In this sense, I can identify myself with Miller’s commandment number six, that says ‘Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers’. I’m working on it, step by step, little by little. I’ve been showcasing in Paris for the past 3 seasons, and I’m glad for this experience, I still have so much to learn. I know that this ‘step by step’ attitude might seem like a drop in the ocean - but to me, it’s the most sustainable work philosophy to believe in.