Georgia. Vetements SS19

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This was Demna Gvasalia‘s most personal Vetements collection up to date, and definitely, the one that had an extremely powerful meaning. Or rather meanings, since the number of messages the designer and the anonymous fashion collective sent out this season is far from being singular. If you’ve been obsessing over Gvasalia for a couple of seasons now, you surely know his background, the war-torn Georgia. It’s here where Demna and his brother Guram grew up together in the ’90s, and all the atrocities happened – specifically, in 1993, when the Gvasalia family had to flee their home in Sukhumi after the entrace of soldiers and bombing.

“I tried to face this angst and fear and pain in this show. I didn’t want to remember before, I didn’t want to go that far.” Something changed. With more than half of the models coming from Georgia, an extremely long wedding table set up under a bridge in Périphérique (an area in the outskirts of Paris, where migrants live in encampments along the highway) and music blasting, anything could happen in the middle of the haute couture week. But nobody expected that there will be war on the runway. From sweatshirts with the most vulgar Russian slogans (even though these words are quite very justified in case of the suffering Georgia went through) and lots of camo prints to masked men in leather gears and over-sized jackets covered in Georgian, Ukrainian, Turkish and USA flags (a nod to current nationalist tendencies across the world?), one sees lots of untamed aggression in this collection. Moreover, Demna commented on the current national affair in contemporary Georgia, connected to clubbing. One of the pieces had a phrase on, this time in Georgian, saying: “God Forgive Us.” The designer noted that “they’ve recently closed down clubs in Georgia. A line of priests came out to block the protest against it.” Injustice and repression of the youth, that continues to strangle the nation up to today, frustrates the designer. No wonder why. After all, it’s Gvasalia who has contributed to the revival of that reckless, ‘whatever’ attitude in the fashion industry since the first moments of Vetements’ existence.

But other than the history-heavy feelings, there were garments that respectfully nodded to Georgian heritage, like the fringed rug dress or the elegant, pleated bride (or widow) gowns. Still, everything had the stamp of melancholia, mourning. That wasn’t a typical Vetements collection that makes you want to go out for a major booze party. So, will the average Vetements customer, driven by the cult of sweatshirts, t-shirts and sneakers, get anything that’s deep about this intense collection? People don’t want to read long paragraphs about history, especially in the era of social media. Thankfully, the brand found a solution that will educate the eager ones. A Vetements app is about to be released, and it will teach the users on Georgia and such events like the “Ethnic Cleansing of Georgians in Abkhazia.” How promising is it to see that fashion is no longer just about clothes and revenue.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Sé do Porto

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I have such a beautiful memory from this major destination in Porto. Originally built in the 12th century, Porto Cathedral (or Sé do Porto) still has the original merlons and twin towers, although the towers are now topped by 18th century additions. It has undergone various alterations over the centuries, the most important additions being the Gothic rose window, the cloisters, the 18th century altar and the rococo doorway. But you don’t notice details like this when in a crowd of tourist. Really, by co-incidence, we had a chance to visit the Cathedral all by ourselves: we came a few minutes before the closing, but the lovely cashier let us go in. Walking around the cloisters as if it was your summer mansion, ahh, what a feeling! You can look at the tiled walls with no haste and see every single tiny fragment (and believe me, the Portuguese loved tile story-telling). And all that in total silence.

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Alhambra

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If you’re staying in Seville for a few days, you can’t miss the opportunity to visit the Alhambra (by car, if possible). The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, one of the biggest cities of the Andalusia region in Spain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 and many years later converted into a royal palace by the Sultan of Granada. Until today, the heritage place delights its visitors with the arabesque-style architecture, filled with meticulously carved ornaments and thousands of tiles. One can’t get enough of the orange tree scent present all over the local gardens and indoor patios. And if you pretend for a moment that you don’t see those crowds of tourists, you might suddenly feel like a majesty yourself…

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Visiting Toruń

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Toruń is one of the oldest cities in Poland, which over centuries was the home for people of diverse backgrounds and religions. Back in the Medieval times, the city was considered the most culturally and technologically advanced centre in Europe. Moreover, during the World War II, Toruń appeared to be one of the few cities in the country, which was left with no damage. No wonder why the Old Town, fully preserved, looks so beautiful and breathes with its history up to now. Nearly every building here is made of brick, while the churches (the cathedral, dating back to 1236, is a must-see!) are  untouched. Walking down the sun-drenched streets, you wonder whether you’re strolling around Brugge or an old Tuscan village…

If you’re here for one day, make sure to visit the District Museum (or Toruń Regional Museum), which is located in the historic Rathaus. The ground floor is an impressive collection of Gothic art and local craftsmanship, while the upper floors hold paintings of Polish artists from XVIII to XX century. Currently, there’s an exhibition of modern art, which presents some of Zdzisław Beksiński, Władysław Hasior and Łukasz Korolkiewicz’s rare works.

In case of culinary experiences, Toruń is recognised for its famous gingerbread. But if you want something less clichéd, try a more niche, off-the-crowd spots. Od Dechy Do Dechy is a cozy, book-filled bar with signature beers, home-made pastries and coffee. Sometimes, they sell second-hand books and vinyls. Perfect place to chill after a busy day.

To sum up, Toruń is totally worth a stay, especially in the summer!

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

The Sudetes: Royal

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You’ve surely noticed that the last few days were pretty quiet on Design & Culture by Ed – but I’m back for good. The truth is I needed a moment for a well-deserved mind detox. To slow down, rest a bit. And going to the Sudetes, a mountainous region located between Poland and Czech Republic, was the best possible choice for me. So, I’ve decided to divide my journal into three parts – here’s the first one, titled ‘Royal’.

The first destination was the precious Książ castle (pronunciation: ksiowsh), which went through turbulent history. Situated on a beautiful, deeply forested hillside, the castle used to be the go-to place for Polish aristocracy and socialites before the First World War. Right now it’s under major reconstruction and refurbishment, but that’s not a problem, as the delightful baroque hall and terrace are truly breath-taking. Just a few steps from the castle, there’s the all-wooden royal horse stable. Actually, I’ve never seen anything like that before – it’s huge. Although I’m not a horse-riding fan, I fell in love with those beautiful creatures that are kept here. What’s more, local riders wear authentic, pre-war gears while they’re up on the horses, which makes this incredible place even more absorbing with its historic aura.

The ‘Wałbrzych Palm House’ arose from the initiative of the last representative of the Hochberg dynasty in Książ castle, Hans Heinrich XV. The Prince had it built for his spouse, Daisy (a passionate lover of flowers and plants). To this day, his expression of love holds a great charm. It’s said to be the only such facility in Poland that has been preserved in its original construction. Inside gardens are my soft spot, so you might imagine how happy I was to walk around this rather niche tourist attraction.

Stay in tune for more posts coming about the Sudetes!