Transformations: from the Slavic Clothing Tradition to Contemporary Designs

From 6 to 26 September 2023, the Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade hosted the exhibition Transformations: from the Slavic Clothing Tradition to Contemporary Designs, the result of collaboration between the Forum of Slavic Cultures, the Museum of Applied Art (Belgrade) and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia. The exhibition was curated by Stanislava Vauda Benčevič.

The mission of the Forum of Slavic Cultures is to forge bonds and weave contacts between inhabitants of thirteen Slavic countries in order to nurture, expand and strengthen cultural ties between them. Networking and collaboration are essential in promoting creativity, building the diversity of Slavic identities, and enhancing the cultural dialogue in the European and global contexts. Traditionally, a forum is place where people share and exchange valuable knowledge and experience, and as a promoter of new ideas the Forum of Slavic Cultures is a venue of always new possibilities and opportunities. Constantly forging and weaving, it was only a question of time before the Forum of Slavic Cultures ventured into fashion. Fashion has been appreciated in every civilization and culture, and its indelible mark is often what historical periods are remembered for. And it is because it is so inspiring and expressive that fashion so eloquently reflects the sentiment and yearnings of its time.

Transformations seek to stir up interest in Slavic cultural heritage in a contemporary fashion, by allowing a motif from the past to conjure up a contemporary stitch, the bounty of traditions to invite the ascetic cut. Designs are always a mirror that reflects both ways: they allow us to look into the past, but offer a reflection of our time. They who aim at eternity will usually add the charm of an audacious look into the future to this play of enchanting and temporal reflections.

The project Transformations by Andreja Rihter began in 2019 with an exhibition curated by Jožica Brodarič, which took place at the Ljubljana City Hall. It featured Nikolaj Božilov (Bulgaria) with his Spirit collection, Andrea Pojezdálová (Slovakia) with Retrotopia collection, Jelena Proković (Slovenia) with Eggomania collection, Galina and Nikolaj Birjukov (Russia) with their Silver Ring collection and Nevena Ivanović (Serbia) with her Luchaneo collection.

In addition to the above-mentioned designers, the Belgrade exhibition, which continues the project’s journey, also featured Denisa Dovalova (Czech Republic) with her Slavic Goddesses collection, Ivana Murišić (Montenegro) with Sloboda collection, Jelena Holec (Croatia) with Ornamentations collection, Kinga Krol (Poland) with Dziwozona collection and Dragan Hristov (North Macedonia) with Forest collection. A total of 50 different original artworks were exhibited. The accompanying programme of the exhibition also included an art circle, organised by the Museum of Applied Art in cooperation with Belgrade Fashion Week, with the aim of networking and exchanging experiences.

Transformations have three aspirations. We want to inspire fashion creatives to delve into their treasure chests, family albums or museum collections. We want to encourage experts at home to recognise among us the stars of sustainable future, who are sometimes only a boldly cut sleeve away. We want to assure the European expert public that the pattern design, the quality of the stitch and the potential of the cut are evenly distributed across the Continent – and that the East and South are more than worthy of our attention!

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