By Viktar Korbut
Belarusian Fashion Centre designers have presented their collections at a fair of female clothes — Femme 1 — in Bonn. The arrival of Eastern Europeans was a true revelation for local audiences. Designer Elvira Zhvikova headed the Belarusian pavilion and was much impressed by the huge interest in Belarusian clothes from German women. “Belarusian women love to add a bead, flower or feather to their clothes; high heels and diamantes are ‘sacred’,” she smiles. “In Germany, the situation is different, since women don’t feel the need to fight so fiercely for men’s attention. This may be why German ladies prefer a more restrained style.”
“I was impressed by the freshness, buoyancy and modern character of Belarusian models,” notes Kathrin Wallat, an organiser of the Bonn fair. “For most Germans, Eastern European fashion is associated with heavy fur coats and ultra-short skirts. However, these are not clothes for daily life. Rather, these are status symbols demonstrating a woman’s wealth… while showing off her beautiful legs. This time, I’ve seen wonderful colours, lightness and novel patterns.”
Ms. Zhvikova hopes that the new ideas of the Belarusian designers can find a place on the German market, saying, “We need to make conceptual proposals, while promoting authors’ designs.” Speaking of how Belarusian Fashion Centre designers manage to meet audiences’ expectations, developing fashionable clothes, Elvira admits, “I draw ideas from everywhere. Working on commercial lines is most interesting for me; fashion trends are a source of inspiration.”
Elvira was born in Vitebsk, where her grandfather inspired her love for art and drawing and she learnt sewing skills from her grandmother. She later built on these foundations by studying at the Vitebsk Fine Arts Studio and, after graduation, set off to Moscow to learn applied arts at the Textile Institute. Her studies in the Russian capital gave her a good basis. She was even taught how to create an even seam. Elvira’s style is the result of a harmony of traditions and countries, so it’s no surprise that, under her guidance, the Belarusian Fashion Centre creates designs which have defined Eastern European trends since the last century.
The Belarusian Fashion Centre has been selling clothes at its own boutique in Minsk for a long time, with a loyal customer base which adores its designs.
It was noted in Germany that Belarus lacks a brand producing a full fashion line, so experts have advised Belarusian manufacturers to co-operate, while employing a PR team and making significant investments. Belarusians can sew, with many interesting designers working countrywide. German ladies are primarily interested in clothes made from traditional and natural Belarusian flax linen, so this is a good starting point for exports.