‘Between Sense and Sanity’ at Slovenian fashion showcase
“Browns,” says a prim businesswoman to Slovenian fashion designer Petja Zorec at the opening night of Between Sense and Sanity, a showcase of up-and-coming Slovenian design to Londoners at Europe House, around the corner from Westminster.
Zorec, a bright young woman dressed stylishly yet unpretentiously in a fitted bandage bodice of her own creation, looks confused.
The businesswoman is shocked. “Don’t tell me you don’t know what Browns is.” She leans in confidentially. “Your work needs to be in there,” she advises. “Absolutely. Find out who they are and contact them.”
It’s perhaps a testament to the quality of Zorec’s work that people who’ve never even heard of her think her pieces would fit in on the holy rails at uber-stylish London boutique Browns. Indeed, the reason she is here tonight is because she is one of 12 designers who were invited to participate in the exhibition as part of Young@Squat, a hand-picked collective of young designers from Slovenia.
Each asked to produce an outfit for the exhibition exploring the notion of ‘between sense and sanity’, Zorec is displaying a hand-sewn puffer jacket made of translucent fabric. It is somewhat reminiscent of an oversized ski jacket bursting with sunshine: Zorec has used bundles of yellow wool threads as a filling in her interpretation of the theme. “Usually you can’t see the filling because usually it’s ugly or it’s not the right feathers or anything [but] here I just wanted to show it.
“[The piece is] about all the feelings you keep inside, all the bad moments that happen in your life, family matters or whatever, that at some point come out and that are visible, that are seen. So it’s actually about how it’s kept inside and at some point you reveal everything, because you cannot keep it inside. It’s very personal.”
On further grilling, the piece turns out to be very personal indeed: the wool comes from unspooled remnants from her grandparents’ old knitwear factory and the stiff black top underneath is made from a custom knit of her own design, woven – from scratch, no less – using her grandfather’s rusty machines. “You know these big knits that are popular? I’m not interested in that,” she says. “I’m interested in those small knits that are very intricate [even though it looks like] there’s not a lot going on with them. So here you can see [the weave] goes from transparent to non-transparent, but the flow goes on and everything.
“So actually that’s my thing, to make something really creative and really fashionable with old machines.”
On the other side of the room, Nina Tomažin, studying a masters in fashion at the University of Ljubljana, has taken a more pragmatic approach to the theme and interpreted ‘between sense and sanity’ as a moment in time. To wit, the blouse and floral skirt she has made for this exhibition are made from upholstery fabrics. “The fact that you’re kind of wearing a couch, or a chair, it [comes] that idea from when you sit down and you stop for a moment,” she says.
Perfect, then, for photographer Peter Giodani, whose fashion photography - he shot each outfit in a series of dreamy photographs - stands out for its emotive lashings of saudade. “Sometimes I say I have a sad aesthetic? But it’s not really sad, it’s poetic, a little romantic, a little melancholy - but not too much, not depressing. You know these feelings. This project was made for this exhibition but otherwise I’m always in search of a poetic moment.” The moment between sense and sanity, perhaps.