Warsaw in November might sound grey and rainy (well…), but this doesn’t mean the capital of Poland loses any of its charm. Here are the places I’ve been to during my 48h trip to the city and I hope you get to see if you’re visiting anytime soon. Scroll down for more!
Magda Butrym no longer needs an introduction in the industry. At her core, the Polish designer stands for two things: local hand craftsmanship and fashion that’s playful, yet sophisticated. Her autumn-winter 2019 offers plenty of her signature floral mini dresses in updated silhouettes and statement, 80’s tailoring. But there are also new additions: one of the blazers has a huge black flower attached to it, making the look fantastically exagerrated, but not ridiculous. The handwoven oatmeal sweater is another highlight – it’s backless and comes with waist-cinching ties. As Butrym told Vogue, she’s “inspired by the romantic East”. Well, just look at the pleated silk frock covered in a folk-inspired poppy print and you will get it right away. Each Magda Butrym design is created in an old Warsaw home, where Butrym and her brother have carved out their family business in the old Polish style. She’s a leading Polish designer with countless retailers world-wide, but at the same time she stays where her home is, and consistently fuses her local surroundings with current obsessions, like cowboys or Dolly Parton, in her work.
Magda Butrym store-in-store / Redford & Grant / plac Marszałka Józefa Piłsudskiego 1-3
Regina Bar is a place that will surprise you with its culinary eclecticism. The cuisine is a fusion of Asian and Italian tastes, so don’t be surprised when you spot pizza with salty duck and hoisin sauce in the menu (by the way, it’s delicious!). Locals come here for the classical pork wontons and the crunchy General Tso’s Chicken. The signature cocktails are inspired with Sex & The City’s characters, but if you can’t choose between Carrie and Samantha, take the matcha. Booking a table in advance is recommended.
ul. Koszykowa 1
Zachęta National Gallery of Art is an institution whose mission is to popularise contemporary art as an important element of socio-cultural life. It’s a place where the most interesting phenomena of 20th and 21st century art are presented, especially focusing on Polish artists. Right now, Change the Setting. Polish Theatrical and Social Set Design of the 20th and 21st Centuries is one view. Its concept was born out of the original vision of Robert Rumas, a respected visual artist and set designer. The curator and his team of collaborators lead the viewers through 100 years of history, building the narrative of the exhibition according to an issue and theme-based layout and creating contextual references to earlier and later phenomena.The exhibition shows the most important set design phenomena shaping the space and aesthetics of theatre performances and political and social events in Poland in a new light. The large cross-sectional show is an innovative attempt at a comprehensive presentation of the process of evolution of set design: from the first reform of the theatre to contemporary times, taking into account the problems, phenomena, and resulting repercussions inherent in understanding the role of this field in the histories of Polish theatre and culture. Although the authors intent is not an academic approach to the subject or a linear presentation of the history of Polish set design, including the transformations of theatrical art, the exhibition encompasses key themes inscribed in the history of the theatre and issues faced by contemporary theatre in the broad context of current cultural, political and social phenomena. It’s one of the best exhibitions I’ve seen in a while in Warsaw: it surprises and makes you realise once again (especially if you’re a Pole) that Poland isn’t an easy country.
The exhibition is open until 19.01.2020 / plac Małachowskiego 3
Luxury vintage is rather a dead topic in Poland. It’s often a random splatter of Zanottis, Pleins, occasional fakes and God knows what else. Well, until I’ve discovered Alicja Napiórkowska’s Image House, which is the ultimate exception. Good, old Céline, Rick Owens, Yves Saint Laurent, Comme Des Garçons… brilliant.
Ul. Mokotowska 52
If you’re having a spare afternoon, take a trip to Wilanów Palace. The history of the palace, a wonderful Baroque royal residence, began in 1677, when a village became the property of King John Sobieski III. Augustyn Locci, the king’s court architect, received the task of creating only a ground floor residence of a layout typical for the buildings of the Republic of Poland. Huge construction works were conducted in the years 1677-1696. After completion, the building comprised of elements of a nobility house, an Italian garden villa and a French palace in the style of Louis XIV. After the death of the King, the Palace became the property of his sons, and in 1720, a run down property was purchased by one of the wealthiest women in Poland of those days – Elizabeth Sieniawska. In the middle of 18th century, the Wilanów property was inherited by the daughter of Czartoryski, wife of a field marshal, Izabela Lubomirska, during whose reign, Wilanów started shining with its previous glory. Sixty nine years later, the Duchess gave Wilanów to her daughter and her husband, Stanislaw Kostka Potocki. Thanks to his efforts, one of the first museums in Poland was opened in the Wilanów Palace, in 1805. The exposition consists of two parts: on the main floor you will be able to see the royal apartments of the palace. Rooms where parties took place, chambers where the royal couples listened to music, met their friends and guests, and where they worked and rested. The first floor is the most intriguing: the China-themed rooms. The Chinese Apartment is decorated with Chinoiserie paintings, wood engravings and wallpapers, and furnished with European pieces of furniture that imitated Chinese style. The collection of Far-East works of art amassed by Potocki was that of a true art admirer and a scholar, as he collected miscellaneous objects and products. A large number of the objects have been preserved to his day and form part of the contemporary Museum collection.
ul. Stanisława Kostki Potockiego 10/16
All photos by Edward Kanarecki.