When I was covering Jan Chodorowicz‘s debut collection, “SOCIALI/S/TE”, I was sure this young creative is about to lead a new wave of Polish designers emerging in the fashion industry. Spring-summer 2023 is his second collection, and it was presented to buyers and editors during Paris Fashion Week in the beginning of October. The latest offering explores further the codes of work-wear, a theme which the designer has been exploring since his MA at Central Saint Martins. According to Chodorowicz, the process of re-contextualization of work-wear, its details, materials and functions, lead to their adaptation for the wardrobe of a contemporary woman. As he told Vogue Poland, “so far, my work has been characterized by deep research. This time I worked differently, inspired by the clothes, the design process itself.” That especially shows in the masterful tailoring behind the new season trench coats and cargo pants (in the designer’s signature color of deep blue). The white tank-top, a genderless building-block of any utilitarian-wardrobe, is having a moment too in the collection. Still, the subtle, cultural references are present, and the designer really knows how to interweave them into his garments without going too literal. The unexpected pop of silver, in form of a shirt-and-pants set, is the result of profound inspiration with the film “Volcano of Love” (directed by Sara Dosa), which tells the story of a 1960s couple who traveled the world and identified volcanoes. To get close to the craters, they wore silver-coated suits. “For them it was work attire,” Jan sums up. The collection affiliates with the idea of a work-uniform of artists, especially of such sculpture mavericks as Alina Szapocznikow and Barbara Hepworth. According to the designer, the uniform you wear while creating something doesn’t necessarily have to mean one, monotonous look. That’s why his spring-summer 2023 is a proposal of clothes you can easily mix-and-match during that absorbing and exciting process of creative pursuit.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki. Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!
Unabashedly feminine and sexy, Magda Butrym‘s resort 2023 party-ready pieces sit in a league of their own – and continue to evolve in her new collection. The Polish designer delivers new off-shoulder necklines and the return of her signature, hot-red rose appliqués, now on separates, rendered in crochet and denim, and adorning an elongating pink number that exudes high statuesque glamour. She also introduces more coverage – most notably on a crystal-flecked long-sleeve gown in scintillating pale beige. The tailoring is sharp as usual, this time in an array of colours, from bold magenta to deep black. The pink long-sleeve floor sweeper with a dramatic side slit and floral-detailed high neck is the Aphrodite of Butrym’s latest eveningwear. These are clothes to dance in, all night, in the moonlight. No wonder why the collection is titled “Super Moon”.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki. Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!
For autumn-winter 2022, Magda Butrym delivered a collection that balances her signature, chic finesse with a few delightful nods to her Polish roots. Those references definitely include the cultural legacy of early 20th century Zakopane, where artists created a new aesthetical identity inspired by the regional art of Poland’s highland region known as Podhale. In this “Love Letter” – the collection’s title – Butrym reinterprets the timeless shearling jacket by adding flower-shaped intarsia cut-outs, while the bold red rose print makes me think of Zofia Stryjeńska‘s vibrant depictions of women dressed in traditional highland folklore. Of course, nothing is too literal about this collection, and the knitted cream ensemble with a balaclava hoodie will work both on the slopes of Tatry and Megève. This season, the designer debuts luxe, commanding coats in red patent leather and pink, extra-fluffy jackets, as well as handcrafted details seen in the crochet dress and floral-appliqué mini. Feminine, edgy, distinctly cool and full of bling, Butrym’s eveningwear pieces are unlike anything else. Find them alongside her all-time must-haves – from bustiers with rounded cups to 3D rosettes, and a gray cashmere update to her best-selling long, boxy coat.
Anna Bilińska was the first Polish female artist to gain international recognition. Her first solo retrospective at the National Museum in Warsaw takes place just now, in 2021, but it’s better late than never. Bilińskaused oil paints, pastels and watercolours to create portraits, still lifes, genre scenes and landscapes in the style of European realism. The artist brilliantly mastered the basics of the painting technique, evidenced by her academic studies of models, which strike the viewer with their synthetic approach to the form and with their casual technique of painting. Of course, the artist also simultaneously continued the clear contour style, exemplified by her Male Nude Study (1885), Study for a Male Nude (ca. 1884-85) and Boy Nude (ca. 1884-85). Sketches for the historical and biblical compositions which Bilińska created in her youth have similar qualities but also display a bold expression of colour juxtaposition, as exemplified by Joseph Interprets Dreams (1883) and Inquisition (1884). Bilińska’s mature works consist predominantly of portraits and portrait studies of various ethnic types which were fashionable at that time. These pieces merge the refined simplicity of realism with an academic discipline of the painting technique, such as Head of a Serb (ca. 1884) or Old Man with a Book (ca. 1890s).Bilińska’s self-awareness and thoughts on the artist’s position in the world, which manifested itself in, among others, the representation of her own image in self-portraits, make her works so powerful. And still, the artist’s entire oeuvre and life story have yet to be thoroughly analysed and rediscovered…
The exhibition is on view until 10th of October 2021.
The National Museum in Warsaw is worth a visit in general! Here are some of my favourite artworks, especially from the 19th and 20th century galleries, from Józef Mehoffer’s enchanting Stange Garden to Jacek Malczewski’s prophetic visions.
After the Tary mountains and Zakopane, there’s just no way not to visit Cracow. Historically Poland’s former capital and oldest university town lies in a broad valley on the banks of the Vistula river, and is a treasure house of national culture. Its ancient, elegant Old Town has been placed on the UNESCO list of World Historic Sites. It is ideal for a long weekend break, without the tourist hoards and high prices. Be dazzled by its art and architecture, from baroque to Art Nouveau, renaissance to Gothic, and by the sheer spectacle of the city. Here are some of the gorgeous places I’ve visited this time…
The Józef Mehoffer House is a museum located in the former residence of the painter at 26 Krupnicza street and is listed in the Register of Historical Monuments. It boasts an adjacent, blooming garden extending to the south. In 1932, the house was purchased by Józef Mehoffer who was captivated by its old-fashioned look as well as its spacious courtyard and garden shaded by old green trees. The building already constituted part of the city’s history. Mehoffer carried out its thorough renovation, leaving the structure of the building unchanged but introducing new interior divisions. The process endowed the house with features of a carefully devised family residence, which was dubbed „The Cone Palace”. The outbreak of the war in 1939 interrupted the finishing works. After their return from a German camp in Ash in the Sudetes, the Mehoffers – despite the misery and horror of the occupation – continued the tradition of musical and literary gatherings in their home. It was here that the painter also worked, having lost access to his atelier in the building of the Academy of Fine Arts in Matejko Square. After Józef’s death, the family stayed in the house filled with works of art, archives and memorabilia. As early as in 1963, Zbigniew Mehoffer, the painter’s son, began to expend efforts to create Józef Mehoffer’s museum in Krupnicza street, which bore fruit only many years later. In 1986, in accordance with the will of the artist’s family, the house and the land became the property of the State Treasury and was transferred to the National Museum in Krakow for the purpose of establishing a branch dedicated to the artist. After further renovations and redecorations, the Museum was opened to the public in 1996.
For a proper dose of art and architecture, you should definitely visit St. Francis’s Church with its original, floral polichromies by Stanisław Wyspiański, the Wawel castle and cathedral, and the 19th Century Polish Art Gallery at Sukiennice (in the same building you will find the best store with locally-sourced decorations and traditional, hand-made rugs -“kilim“).
The Princes Cartoryski Museum. The most valuable art collection in Poland, and one of the most valuable ones in Europe. The Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci or the Landscape with the Good Samaritan by Rembrandt van Rijn, as well as many other masterpieces of not only painting, but also sculpture, crafts, military, applied arts, can be viewed in 26 exhibition halls, on two floors of the renovated Princes Czartoryski Museum. In 1801, Princess Izabela Czartoryska née Flemming created a collection of national treasures. The resources she collected were presented in Puławy, in two park pavilions: The Temple of the Sybil, and since 1809 also in the Gothic House. It was in the Gothic House that the Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine and Rembrandt van Rijn’s Landscape with the Good Samaritan were exhibited. During that time, the pearls in the Czartoryski collection also included the Portrait of a Young Man by Rafael Santi (lost during World War II). However, the museum did not survive the November Uprising, and in 1831 – following Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski’s emigration – the collection was transported to Paris. It only made its way back to Poland in 1876, in connection with the scheduled opening of the museum in Krakow. World War II brought about significant losses to the collection. After the war, the museum was taken over by the National Museum in Krakow, and in 1991 fell under the management of the Princes Czartoryski Foundation. On December 29, 2016, thanks to the purchase by the Polish government, the Czartoryski resources became an integral part of the National Museum in Krakow. After all these years, visitors can finally see Czartoryska’s precious collection.
Cracow is also a great place for vintage fashion! Vintage Shop on Szpitalna street has a lovely selection of unique jewellery, designer items and adorable, tapestry bags from 1960s and 70s.