When fashion design meets history

A challenging task

Studying should always be surprising, inspiring, and tease people to discover new things. This was the case for Elena Lobova, fashion design student from Krasnoyarsk, Russian Federation. When she started her studies at the University of Federal Siberia, she may have not imagined that she would end up in another country, studying traditional dresses from past centuries and redesigning them into contemporary forms. But when her professor assigned the students this task, she chose Greece. «I chose it because here are the roots, the beginnings of arts in Europe», she said. So she moved to Thessaloniki for two months, as an EVS volunteer, and started to work on her project.

Step by step

Elena visited an exhibition in the Folklife and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia-Thrace of Thessaloniki, about traditional costumes of the region. «It is mostly wedding dresses donated by people. The period covered goes from mid-19th to mid-20th century», she explains.

She first sketched the traditional dresses, trying to identify recurrent details: «Each piece is composed of several layers of dresses and gowns. I chose to focus on the apron and the deep V neckline». 

In the meantime, she was also working on elaborating her own patterns. She took inspiration from the original ones, that are very peculiar and meaningful.

«It was a structured working process» she explains. «At first I created a very simple basic dress, connected with the traditional one but already modern. Then I tried to change the construction of the dress, keeping the general form but changing some details. After this I changed the whole construction – the form of the dress. And finally I did something that we call “inverse”. For example, usually we have a belt on the top of our jeans, but through the “inverse” process it can go everywhere. So I took the aprons and straps of the dress, redesigning them longer, or in different positions, or with different forms».

The final result

«The result is a garment that can be worn every day. Surprisingly, it also has something that reminds of ancient Greece. So I also chose the poses of my models this way. The most difficult part was to combine the patterns, for they are very elaborated and colourful. This is an obstacle also for their realisation in practice. I chose to keep red as the main color, with some black. I used yellow for details, as in the original examples. Grey serves as a link between the other colours».

«Ethnic style is popular now, that’s why we see traditional costumes as very close to our taste. It was interesting to deeply study those traditional dresses. I appreciated and learned from details that are still very modern», concludes Elena. For now she’s not sure she will be able to sew it, but the result is very powerful. Hopefully someone will be interested in realising some of them. Which one is your favourite?

Post Author: Arianna Salan

Arianna Salan
I’m 28 years old and I don’t know what I’ll be when I grow up. I like to listen to people’s stories and to write about migrations, social justice, and sustainability. I’m Italian but I feel home in many places!

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