” To be a designer is something which you can’t prove in one collection or a single trend.” Jiri Kalfar

Photographer Olivie Dvorakova

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Jiri Kalfar

What made you realize you have a vocation for fashion?

      It was very spontaneous. I have not studied fashion design, having been a ballet dancer for most of my life and I did some modeling as well. Back then I was living in NYC and I wanted to return to Prague from where I am originally come from. I have always wanted to create something, even at the ballet school I was drawing girls and clothes instead of taking notes on the subject. Initially I took lessons from individual seamstresses and tailors to learn the basics of the craft and I started to work on my first collection with them. I was very fortunate that I could showcase it straight away at Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Weekend, which allowed me to have a relatively quick start as a fashion designer.

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Who influences you the most?

      It is not “who”, it is more “what”. As I spent my childhood and growing-up age in theatre, I think I am very much influenced by it. I take inspiration from everywhere. From the cities that I lived in and visited, stories of artists and from art in general, from ballet, opera and even in punk music. I equally love history, 19th century Russian literature and the people from that time. I like folk art, gypsy traditions and songs, and also Japanese minimalism, their kabuki theatre. I enjoy the Italian temperament and heritage as well as the French one. I think I take bits and pieces from everywhere and create something which reflects my point of view. There is so much beauty in this world.

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What is the key moment of a designing process?

       I would say it is the moment when one collection is finished and I start working on a new one. When you’re thinking of where to go next. That new beginning which has to be a continuation and represent your previous collections simultaneously.

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To what degree is your personal style shaped by fashion’s ever-changing trends?

     To none almost. I’m not very futuristic, rather very traditional in that sense. I prefer quality to quantity and to me to be a designer is something which you can’t prove in one collection or a single trend. It is something which you nurture and progress through your entire life, from the first collection to the very last.

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Describe one of your typical working days.

    Would you prefer the maniac days before a fashion week, as there is nothing typical about those or just a normal working day? 😀

I don’t wake-up too early, I enjoy my sleep. I normally wake up at around 8am, have a coffee while making my daily plan, prioritizing my tasks. Then I walk to the studio at around 10am. My seamstress and my right hand Judith is already there and works either on orders or new pieces. We have to be very systematic as there’s only the two of us on a daily basis in the studio and a few external people who are part of JIRI KALFAR. I get on with meetings or fittings with clients and we work on the collection and do all the admin stuff. The normal working days aren’t that exciting as one would think. I get home between 7pm and 8pm. I usually watch a movie or I go out for a dinner with my friends.

     I like to switch off on the weekends though and do things which have nothing to do with fashion. I go to the countryside, or a cultural event, I hang-out with my friends or just read.

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What are your artistic influences?

     Let’s say that I have a lot of them. As I was one of them, I have great respect to dancers. You know, to be a ballet dancer, it requires great sacrifices. To push your body and mind to an absolute maximum. To always work and improve yourself. I think they influence me the most. I have done a collection which was inspired by the story of Nureyev and Fonteyn two years ago. If I have to specify some contemporary names: I like the works of Wayne McGregor, Jiri Kylian, Jean-Christophe Maillot or Akram Khan. I enjoy the books of Ken Follett and Haruki Murakami. Michael Jackson is my favorite pop artist. There never was or will be anyone like him.

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Do you have a message to our readers and followers?

       Think before you buy and inform yourself. We live in the digital age where all the information is one-click away yet we over-consume and we are not conscious enough about our choices. In matter of fashion, I believe no-one should be hurt or sacrificed for a sake of a product or for the sake of profit, no animal should be hurt at our expense. We should focus on quality before quantity. So my message would be: Just care more! We are the generation which has a voice thanks to internet and often uses it for the wrong issues.

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