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Jakub Polanka

About seeking creative space and poetry

You wanted to read about Jakub Polanka, who is one of our best fashion designers. That is why we bring you an interview, in which he recapitulates 2010 and his entire successful career.

FROM SUŠICE THROUGH PRAGUETO PARIS

You travel between Prague, Sušice and Parisall the time. What does each of this cities mean to you?

Sušice means home, childhood and nature. Pragueis something between Sušice and Paris and Parisis freedom and home that I created by myself. As far as my profession is concerned, Parisis a place, which I respect, where I still have something to learn and which still has something to offer to me. There are way more channels - if one does not suit you, you find another one if you want.  There is not just one style, there are 20 or 30 of them and all of them are respected and in all of them, you have the chance to get to the top.

WUTHERINGHEIGHTS

You spent 2010 mostly in Prague. Now, you go back to Franceagain. What did that year bring to you?

When I have the opportunity to look back, it is horrible, but was a terrible feeling of solitude. I felt really lonely, even though I was still meeting other people. It was a year of learning about myself and others and I am really thankful for it.

To create a working fashion label is a nice goal indeed, but I want to make clothes – that is the most important thing – and that is what I did last year, too. I also went back to the CzechRepublicwith certain responsibility that I maybe change something... and then I realized that I could not do everything, I was not made for this, nor did I have the energy for it. It is impossible to change the nation, it is a circle and it has to come from all directions in one moment and slowly. I met lots of people, lots of people tried to help me and trust in me and I am grateful for them.

If you have to decide between two things and you are intuitively against both of them, but you have to pick one and you push it, because you do not want miss something next, so goodbye freedom... But I cannot be without freedom, I cannot create anything. A tree on WutheringHeightscannot stay straight. So because of that, I end my work from last year and I will try to find my free creative space somewhere else. It is not just about a man alone, it is also about where he is. If you do not like it here, you can go somewhere else, everywhere is something, but you have the freedom to choose what you want.

CONCEPTS AND COLLECTIONS

Besides routine work on seasonal collections, you also spend some time on your own concepts. What is the difference between these spheres and conversely, where do they meet?

A concept is not limited by a season. For me, it is often connected with a process of self-discovery. It is far less about the product; clothes are just substitutes, never the principle. Most of the time, it is a performance, which is somehow documented, that is important to me. And a result is a vision, poetry in forms. While in trend collections, I would like to preserve the poetry, but transferred to the product – clothes. Spiritual hidden meaning just leads me to selection and overall impression. There are lots of little nuances. You can photograph it in a slightly different way and you give it completely different mood. Both processes are connected, they are both parts of the discovery, challenge. I always say it is about the process, not about results.

When you talk about poetry, I immediately recall your Palindroms.

When we talk about clothes, it does not have to be emotional, but it can be challenge, exactly like these t-shirts, when Honza Králíček said that I work with things vice-versa and it is like palindromes. Every new discovery is a way and we are not alone in this creation. And even though you will sew it alone at night one hundred times, there is always information from someone, which started it. The other people take part physically.

Let’s talk straight; they are common t-shirts, but they have a story behind them, you have to buy them, a graphic designer thinks about it, someone comes up with a text, another one draws it at night, when you try it on you realize that you can still play with it, that it needs details. It is about common t-shirt – and you see, how many people are involved. And I do not talk about past, everyone draws from something else, it is actually a pyramid.

What is most important for you when you make a collection?

It is probably that feeling of freedom and the actual process. It is more and more connected with material needs, but in the end, it is not about things. We can be often quickly inspired by things, which are driven by passion and desire for success, and it has actually nothing to do with the real ourselves. It is important which I am working, because I discover principles and opinion of those things. I often have an idea, how it will look like, but during the process of creating them, many things are changing and I have to react immediately. And when you cannot stick to authenticity all the time, it will tear down.

WAR OF COLORS

If we compare a Czech and a French woman – what is the difference between their approaches to fashion and life?

Every nation has its specifics and a Frennch woman is different in Parisand in the countryside. However they did not experience 40 years of communism, so fashion and life co-exist there. It is a part of life for them, as well as architecture. We still differentiate between those things. The way of life is more pleasant, because they enjoy it, they eat dinner for two hours, they care of themselves and their environment in a kind of delicate and sophisticated way. It is a question of style.

In our country it is about the first sight: “let them see what I have” – clear sign. So I understand, why is Philippe Starck so popular in the CzechRepublic. As far as colors are concerned, we mostly use only basic colors and bye bye! If I look from my window, I see mostly those basic straight colors, green, violet and yellow. And it is all around, a man feels it and it influences him. These colors cannot be combined easily; it is difficult to create something lovely. For instance: pink has so many shades like salmon pink or rose pink and others, but we still see only those basic colors and if not, a customer does not know what to do with it anyway, so they do not buy it. It is a vicious circle.

When we talk about colors, in the end of January, I start a serial about colors and I begin with grey. It is your favorite color and you often use it. What would you say about it?

I need a ground color, a matter, which I can create a story around. It is not white for me, it is too innocent and black makes a silhouette too much, they are both far too extreme and connected with a kind of prejudice. Grey is somewhere between them, it has many shades and contains many sub-colors. As they say, things are not black or white. A story is way more sophisticated. I work with forms a lot and grey does not compete with form, it highlights it. It is not simple. And I can also be sure, that everything, every form will look pure in grey.          

URBAN GODDESS

How is a woman you dress like?

A definition of woman is changing, it is evolving with me. It is far less that fairy-tale-like fantasy creature, who she was at the beginning of my career, she is becoming a civil woman. In English, there is a term for this – urban goddess. Every woman, her uniqueness, that heroin and warrior in her, it is still there, but she is more real in life.

And clothes are changing, too. At first, they were actually forms and costumes, things which showed emotions and certain story. But now they become more functional and it should support women, women should not be just clothes-bearers. So I got to basics of clothes, to their function. For me, it has a bigger final value and final sense, because those things do not come like masturbation. They get into the circle, to the flow of that river. I used to put boats in it and watched them flow away.

And our classical last question: What d you do against grey?

I live and do something instead of thinking about what and how I should do it. I simply do it, I make a mistake and I do it again in a different way. And generally, I do not take anything seriously and mostly myself – that is the hardest part.

Jakub Polankais represented in Praguein Backstage press room, which is primarily for stylists and magazines. Serious offers for Polanka’s models can be made by phone and you can then visit Backstage and choose something from his current collection.
 

Author’s epilogue:

To do an interview with someone you work with for 13 years, it is not easy from one simple reason: you have to pick subjects and constantly think about readers, who do not know Jakub at all and they want to know something more about him. More than “the best Czech fashion designer”. Our two-year professional pause helped me a lot and a wish to introduce his approach to his work and fashion itself. We will meet on several projects in 2011 and I will be glad if there is an opportunity to share something about these meetings with our readers.

www.jakubpolanka.com

Photographs: Karel Losenický

Note: Palindrome is a word or a sentence, which can be read both ways (Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas!).

 


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