Hermès in Warsaw

Just a step from the entrance to one of Warsaw’s most refined and elegant hotels, Hotel Europejski, which is located in the historic Old Town district of the city (known as Krakowskie Przemieście), a very special opening took place a couple of days ago. It’s the first ever Hermès store in Poland. The light-filled, dripped in tones of honey, burgundy and beige interior was designed by the Paris-based RDAI interior design studio and is furnished in a signature, equestrian style, which is distinct to Hermès house codes. The marble floor is a black & white checkerboard, the furniture is all about French design classics, while the metallic screen displays silk and cashmere carré scarves and shawls (the bold Animapolis edition by Jan Bajtlik is its star!). Behind, you will see the iconic bags, and one of them will strike you the most: the Birkin designed especially for the Warsaw store, with a trompe l’oeil store façade intarsia. Take a few steps back, and to the right you will find a selection of Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s chic and terrifically luxurious womenswear and menswear; to the left, the store is supplied with homeware (think porcelain and blankets), fine jewellery and perfumes which are sold exclusively in Hermès flagship boutiques. In the past, I would never believe a brand like Hermès will open its doors (here, I emphasize a separate store, not just a ‘box’ in some department store…) in Poland. So believe me, visiting the brick-and-mortar space for the first time was an experience filled with excitement and… a kind of pride.

Krakowskie Przedmieście 13 / Warsaw

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Warsaw in November

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.

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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.

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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.

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All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Slavic Romance. Magda Butrym SS20

For spring-summer 2020, Magda Butrym does her thing in the best possible way. The Polish designer looks at the East through her own, idiosyncratic perspective, creating the modern-day “Slavic romance” – even suited for a client who not necessarily has much to do with the region. Her signature, sharp-shouldered silhouettes beautifully define her mini dresses and vintage-y tailoring (just take a look at the masculine, silk coat in polished white to see the sharpness I’m talking about). Florals take center stage, either as reworked folk prints or an incredible 3-D sculptural bodice that stands away from the body to resemble a rose in full bloom. The pleated, long-sleeved dress in bold pink is equally appealing. Butrym’s love for folk is never too literal in her work, but the previously mentioned Slavic romance she manages to incorporate in her fashion is always charming and heart-warming (especially for Poles like me who really wish Polish labels embraced its local heritage – without falling into folklore clichées, of course).

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Folklore, Revamped. Magda Butrym AW19

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.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki, photos Bibi Cornejo Borthwick.

Meeting Ormaie

About a month and half ago (yes, I know it’s been a while… but the coverage of all the fashion weeks going on felt like an eternity), I went to Warsaw for Galilu’s intimate meeting with the mum-and-son duo behind Ormaie Paris, a niche perfume label that’s more than just a scent. Ormaie is a family run fragrance maison with roots deep in art and nature. Creativity is at the heart of the brand – Ormaie’s founders, Marie-Lise Jonak and Baptiste Bouygues, have brought together artists and artisans to write each chapter of the Ormaie story. All of the Ormaie fragrances (there are seven) are composed solely of natural ingredients with the ultimate goal of elegance and quality. The ultra-chic, geometrical flacons attract the eyes; the titles and descriptions of each of the perfumes excite the mind. Let’s see. Yvonne is modern homage to the classical feminine perfume, blending rose and the chypre notes with the scent of red fruits (and it appealed to me so much that I had to get it the moment I discovered it at Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées in Paris). Toï Toï Toï, a German expression ballet dancers say to wish good luck before going on to perform, labels a fragrance that evokes polished wooden boards of the stage and the dancer’s waxed ballet shoes. Meanwhile L’Ivrée Bleue is a narcotic scent that depicts the eroticism of Gauguin and the jungle themes of Rosseau. It smells dark vanilla, of rum and of the scents of the island. Oh my.

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Three Places in Warsaw

Three places you’ve got to visit when in Warsaw

Mood Scent Bar

It’s not your average store with perfumes. Here, you will discover the world’s most niche fragrances, from the pret-a-porter to haute couture ones. Whether its D.S. & Durga’s Amber Kiso or Orto Parisi’s Boccanera or Stora Skuggan’s Moonmilk, each fragrance sold at Mood Scent Bar tells a unique story. Other than perfumes, you will find here Astier de Villatte’s stationery and Mariage Frères’ delightful teas.

ul. Bracka 3 (they have two more spots).

Capricorn Arthouse

Possibly the most magical place in Warsaw. The owners really sell what they love, from Jamin Puech’s artisan bags to Justyna Górecka’s beautiful, hand-made plates. Today, it’s a growing rarity to find a store that has such a sense of curation. Big love. The store is currently having it’s pop-up at Concept 21 in Poznań!

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Image House

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

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All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Polish Jazz. MISBHV SS19

misbhvFor a moment, let’s switch from resort look-books and New York’s off-the-schedule runways to Warsaw’s socrealist icon – Palace of Culture. Few days ago, Natalia Maczek and Tomek Wirski did their spring-summer 2019 runway show for the first time in Warsaw. MISBHV stands for so many things: to some, it’s a go-to streetwear label favoured by the big names (Kylie and all). For others, it’s an internationally recognized label that sells in stores among Vetements and Raf Simons. And the other others (like my friends, for instance) know it for great hoodies with intriguing prints.

This season, however, Maczek and Wirski wanted to explore new fields and do something different than usual. Having deep interests in the Polish 50s and 60s, the designers immersed themselves in a theme that doesn’t come up to you instantly when thinking of the brand. Jazz, or rather “Polish Jazz” (as the collection’s name suggests), became the season’s key-point. Moreover, MISBHV invited Rosław Szaybo, the legendary Polish graphic designer (who did album covers for Miles Davis, Janis Joplin and, of course, the cult “Polish Jazz” series) to collaborate on the prints. Blurring the lines between womenswear and menswear, the label’s latest offering includes flowing dresses, over-sized blazers, bike shorts, PVC coats and headscarves (a beautiful nod to Slavic culture!). But there are MISBHV classics as well, like the WARSZAWA print or friendly-to-the-public t-shirts. Polish fashion keeps on evolving, slowly, but it does. And seeing brands like MISBHV having such progress, and executing their visions so well, makes me really proud.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki featuring Wojciech Plewiński’s photograph of Warsaw; Rosław Szaybo’s album covers.

SSENSE

Le Nuvole. Ania Kuczyńska AW17

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Ania Kuczyńska‘s autumn-winter 2017 collection, elusively titled Le Nuvole (meaning ‘clouds’ in Italian), is a minimalist heaven at the first glace. But is it just plain minimalism? The Warsaw-based designer is known for encoding various references and  personal obsessions in her sharply cut, yet tactile garments. This season, it was a nod to her beloved Italy. Don’t associate that tip too superficially, though, as there is nothing like cliché in Kuczyńska’s creativity. Morning black coffee served in Palermo; a glass of Sicilian wine (well relates to the burgundy colour of the must-have ballet slippers); the shade of navy that resembles the Italian, night sky. Then, there’s also Monica Vitti’s ethereal grace in those silk dresses and feminine blouses. The 3/4 skirts ooze with a Luca Guadagnino film sensuality – yes, think of Tilda Swinton’s character in A Bigger Splash. The expressive silhouette of Ania’s new season pieces reflect the motion of Tarantella  – folk dance in the Southern part of Italy, characterized by a fast upbeat tempo. Although that seems like quite a lot for one collection, Kuczyńska pulls it off like no other, keeping it true to her style. The mood, the texture, the silhouette – Le Nuvole is what you call eccelente, in every aspect.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki, feauturing Wojciech Plewiński’s shot from ‘Italia ’57’ series.   Photos by Stanisław Broniecki, beauty by Marianna Yurkiewicz.

Ania Kuczynska’s Wave

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Ania Kuczyńska‘s latest capsule collection entitled Black Celebration 1986 is an intimate exploration of memories and associations, likely kept in deep, black-and-white tones. This Polish designer, who’s the founder of Warsaw’s beloved eponymous label, continues to combine and fuse inspirations in the least expected ways. The name of the collection might ring a bell – of course, we’re speaking of Depeche Mode’s most (as for me) melancholic album, which might be a perfect backdrop for these elusive, analog snaps by Stanislaw Boniecki. But Ania goes further, nodding to new wave tendencies in Polish film and music (from Roman Polanski’s intriguing dramas to Krzysztof Komeda’s cinematic tunes). New wave era had a magnetising, truly absorbing aura – the same feelings surrounds Kuczyńska’s garments. Unisex turtlenecks à la the existentialists; below-the-knee pleated skirts; t-shirts with shoulder-exposing cuts. It’s not about pursuing the newness, but rather, focusing on essentials, perfecting them. Kuczyńska’s house codes evolve – and this collection is a beautiful addition to her creative language.

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