After 20 years of experience the Cracow School of Art and Fashion Design (SAPU) has achieved a high standard and an excellent reputation in the fashion industry, locally and overseas. As the only private fashion school in Poland, SAPU has received the Honorary Golden Thread – a prestigious award for distinguished individuals and institutions in fashion. Its graduates work in top fashion houses, for such icons as Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, John Galliano or Claude Bonucci. Thanks to SAPU’s diploma show and an intensive promotion of its graduates, the City of Cracow was in 2013 described as one of the world’s fashion capitals ranked higher than Moscow, Frankfurt, Vienna, Miami, San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro. The Diploma Show Cracow Fashion Awards takes place in late March, where the best collections, as the highlight of the school’s academic year are presented. The show is always attended by many distinguished guests, international experts, industry representatives, gallery owners and media. And it is just a small part of the Cracow Fashion Week – a huge, artistic event jam-packed with diverse workshops, lectures, fashion shows and exhibitions of graduates’ paintings, drawings, photography and jewelry works.
As fashion expert and one of the main partners, Fashion Culture had the pleasure to sit in the Jury with international guests to judge highlighted collections from Poland for picking winners in each category. 2 days of competition, 38 applicants, 14 wisely selected collections classified to the Cracow Fashion Awards and in the end just a few winners. Hardly sharing views on whose collection is the best, Fashion Culture decided to grant a private award to the collection that explored rhythm and lines – Laura Slepowronska caught our attention.
There was nothing new. Nothing that swept me off my feet. Out of habit I was looking for something out of the assembly line, something that doesn’t follow the rules and undergo the collective judgment. I was looking for a collection that would be addressed to the 21st-century fashion explorers. Instead, I saw the copy-paste phenomenon, trashed styling, vain attempts of experiments, empty promises. While waiting for any kind of new ideas, I noticed only one outstanding collection. By challenging current codes and by combining contrast, deriving inspiration straight from the 1950s, Laura Slepowronska proved that she is able to create something authentic, that will protect us from the pre-packed shapes, we are constantly pushed into. Playing with different shades of black and pastel blue, Laura brought out the youthful femininity characteristic for the 1950s and showed it on the catwalk during the Cracow Fashion Week 2015. Her bell-shaped silky skirts and hand knitted cashmere sweaters with three-quarter sleeves caught my attention. Each look reminded me of the neat, versatile and chic shirtwaist dress popular in the 1950s as the ‘ultimate uniform’ of US women.
I met up with the talented Laura right after the Cracow Fashion Awards to grant her our magazine’s award and talk about the ‘ÉCLAIR’ collection. Afterwards, she mentioned it was her runway début .
Agata Mayer: What was your motivation and idea behind the ÉCLAIR collection?
Laura Ślepowrońska: Fashion needs to be aesthetic, appropriate and useful. That is why I focused so much on proportion and good quality fabrics. I wanted to create a ready-to-wear collection inspired by women from the 50′s. I wanted it to be feminine and delicate, but also outstanding by using diverse fabrics like leather, jacquard, lustrous nickel, seagrass and mohair yarn (a silk-like fabric).
A.M. What was the biggest challenge while creating?
L.Ś. To be careful not loosing myself in making up theories and unnecessary philosophy around my own concept. To remember that it is an universal, timeless and well-designed product. It is always a big challenge to create compatible pieces and at the same time so diverse. It is too easy to follow existing patterns, so I truly recommend to get out sometimes and clear your mind focuing on something completely different.
A.M. Just mentioning, you had your show at Cracow Fashion Week / Cracow Fashion Awards this spring. How did you like it?
L.Ś. Oh, I will remember this year’s Fashion Week for a long time. It was such an important day for me. The show lasted just a few minutes but the feeling seemed eternal! For me it was a shot of adrenaline that allowed me to be in two or even more places at the same time. It also forced me to stay focused. There was no place for panic anymore! I must say, it was – and will be – a really addictive feeling. Definitely worth waiting for this moment!
A.M. What were the biggest challenges preparing the show?
L.Ś. Time, or rather the lack of it, is the biggest objective. You have to be really focused and self-disciplined to make it all work. Suddenly everything depends on you and the decisions you make. All details need to be worked out and really precise. You should concentrate on details and overall look at the same time. It is really challenging.
A.M. How did you feel when the show was over? You received a lot of positive feedbacks – didn’t you?
L.Ś. Physically I was really tired but it was a good feeling. I was thunderstruck when I realized how many people appreciated my work. I got such a positive feedback receiving so many awards. I knew I was heading in the right direction. To release the tension after the show I went out for a party with all my closest friends. It was an amazing night!
A.M. Looking back, how and when did your passion for fashion design begin?
L.Ś. In our home everybody likes to dress up. We have always taken great care of our looks. We give each other advices and talk about this a lot. When I was a little kid, my mom taught me how to distinguish the best and the most precious materials. She loves silk, cashmere cotton and linen – all natural and high-quality, never synthetics. She taught me how to love all that too. I have always been thinking about fashion, so one day I have just decided to start sketching, painting and sewing. Finally I started designing my own things at Cracow School of Art and Fashion Design.
A.M. Has Cracow influenced your collection? If so, in what way?
L.Ś. I have been living here for three years now and I have to say that I really like this city. There are some places that stimulate creativity a lot and they are always far away from home. The best ideas always come during my travels.
A.M. What does the future look like for you after graduating from KSA?
L.Ś. I am planning to start working on my second collection soon and to show the final result during the Fashion Week, next year. For sure I would like to paint and to draw more. Also a few trips already planned, so to be honest I can’t wait to get a new boost of inspirations and motivations and to see where it will take me.
A.M. Thank you.
Photographer: Gabriela Bazan
Model: Katarzyna Kmiotek
Make up: Agata Pikulska
Designer: Laura Slepowronska
Assistance: Ewa Manka
Take a quick look at other highlighted collections. Enjoy!