[Alizey Mirza modelling Dorotea Pospihaji's kaftan]
By Nailah Dossa
Slovenian born, Italian educated, London based fashion designer Dorotea Pospihajl is launching her first collection for her brand Dorotea P London.
Her designs focus on eclectic traditional Middle Eastern garments with a European twist. This not only sets her apart from the various newcomers in the fashion industry but imprints her namesake brand into the minds of any who come across it. I met this talented, vibrant designer a few weeks ago at the fashion book launch of Fashionstyleologer London Street Fashion, a project in which she played a huge role in and she was courteous enough to agree to be interviewed for The Muslim News’ Fashion and Style column.
What inspired this collection?
I was always interested in different cultures and translating different cultures through my language of designing. I started designing Kaftans with a friend of mine. We decided to create a few Kaftans just to see how it would be and culturally wise. She has a lot of contact with the Middle East and therefore I just decided why not? Why not actually start to experiment more with that sort of design? Aesthetically speaking Kaftans consist of a lot of fabric and are very voluminous. My garments were always sort of drapey and always had that sense of it’s not really European; it’s not really the standard sort of style. So I just decided to design a second line that was basically going to be just Kaftans.
What country/area in the Middle East interested you the most?
I would say that it was mainly the culture that interested me, as it is in a way conservative but then there is this really interesting contrast with the garments, there is this garment on the outside and the garment on the inside. So it’s putting that sort of relationship with dressing that interested me.
Describe the general process you go through to design and realise a piece of clothing.
A big part of my design process is definitely illustration because that is what I started from. Just illustrating the mood or just illustrating anything that is connected to our society or other cultures; things that we see every day and then from there, I get the idea of the actual theme of what it’s going to be. Then I go to fabrics, do the trimmings and I start to sort of feel the fabrics and start to understand what shape it will take on.
Are you going to span out of the Middle East?
My interest is to bring to the Western world the idea of Kaftans and make them understand that it’s not just this conservative garment that women cover their bodies with. It’s also very nice and elegant. With the way the fabric flows it can be interpreted as a dress or any other garment really.
Do you focus on embroidery as well?
That is a very interesting question and embroidery is definitely a segment that I will start exploring very soon. I have collaboration on a second collection that’s going to come out very, very soon.
Would future collections have a similar Middle Eastern theme?
Yes, for that line definitely. It will always have that classical shape but in terms of details and cuts, I always interpret it in a geographical way so it has more edgy cuts and more of a European sort of design.
What sort of fashion illustrations do you do? Do others commission you to design for them or is it mainly your own concepts you illustrate?
Yes. I do illustrate for myself and I also get commissioned. My collaborations are usually with a Fashion brand or collaborations in terms of art. Usually when people commission me, I have to follow guidelines and ideas and concepts of their work but I always incorporate my own signature which is my way of sketching, illustrating and combining different forms of media.
When did you realise you wanted to be a fashion designer?
Probably by the time I moved to Milan when I was 18. Before that I was more of an illustrator and interested in actual sketching.
What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?
I would say it was this jersey jumpsuit that was overall draped and wrinkled with straps and so it kind of looked like a mummy. The concept behind that was, I was working on a collection that was themed ‘The Urban Warrior’, so I was always designing clothes that would protect you from our society and the way we live now. So the garments were sort of shields that would keep you safe.
How long have you worked as a designer?
If I didn’t call myself a designer then I guess since I finished school and started working in the fashion industry and the recent start up of my own brand, which is a really big change. So I’d say five years.
What is your opinion on the fashion industry at this moment; do the designers that make it big focus mainly on Western design?
People that are successful are usually, yes, designers that focus on safe things and have great exposure in the European fashion scene.
What tips would you give to a budding fashion designer?
I would recommend them to work hard and more than that not to take things personally because it is a very tough industry. It’s not an easy environment especially for young people that don’t have much confidence but have dreams and hope and are really eager to actually work hard. It not only takes a lot of determination but also being tough inside and not letting anything get to you.
Have you sold any of your pieces yet?
I’m mostly distributing in Dubai now and have a few clients in Kuwait.
Where can readers buy your designs?
At the moment, I’m taking orders privately but as soon as boutiques update their collections, the pieces will be available at their shops as well as my website.
You can contact Dorotea to inquire about her collection at email@example.com