Thursday, March 18, 2010

Narciss: An Emerging Talent

One of the most exciting things in fashion right now is that Eastern Europe is finally finding its feet in the fashion world.  Designers from all across former Soviet republics are starting to emerge are new voices and perspectives.  This is fantastic--the Eastern European sensibility towards clothing is refreshing and fairy tales seem to inspire so many of the new ideas.  (have I mentioned that I'm obsessed with fairy tales?)  One of the new designers that is really starting to make a mark is Narciss by Alise Trautmane.  

When did you start your label? When did you start designing or know that you wanted to be a fashion designer?
With an academic background in law and economics, there was every chance I would never been close to the catwalk.  However, after enjoying fast, successful career in business traveling half the world and with the enormous responsibility that the post of the Vice President embodies (at the age of 27), I left the asset management company I had been working for. During these years of my career the titles of the business card changed and the office space grew from mere cubicle to a spacious one, but the lack of satisfaction and creativity was making my life pretty dull. After the Fashion Design and Marketing course at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London in 2008, and summer spent studying the craft at Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan I took off for a creative journey by establishing NARCISS.

How did you come to show at Russian Fashion Week for the last few seasons?
While working as business consultant in Moscow for almost almost two years I have travelled all over Russia, and am acquinted with the business culture and its specifics. Russia in an enormous market with great potential. Moreover, Russia is the biggest neighbour of my home country Latvia. Last, and not of least importance, Russian women are very involved in following the fashion trends and spend a lot of time and effort in taking care about their looks.
Russian Fashion week is the biggest fashion event in Eastern Europe and ranks among top ten fashion weeks in the world according to the organizers. Moscow, as other big fashion metropolitans, has the spirit and dynamics necessary to become a true fashion capital in the future. This season, we will show Fall/ Winter 2010/2011 collection in Russian Fashion Week once again. We will also take part in Riga Fashion Week (in Latvia) with the show on 27 March.  Riga is an ideal place to work and create, but all the business potential and our PR efforts are focused first of all on Russia.

 What was the inspiration for your current collection?
Inspiration for SS2010 NARCISS collection GRACE:
I  derived the inspiration from the 50-ies movie legend and fashion icon Grace Kelly. Grace Kelly was not only a natural beauty and elegance, but also a sharp intellect. She showed how the seemingly incompatible can be combined both on the screen as well as in the private life. The SS2010  collection stresses the aspiration towards all that is natural, e.g. in the choice of materials and accessories, as well as towards the importance of fashion being comfortable. Although the collection is created for the always moving woman leading a busy life in the metropolis, nevertheless, the collection invites to move closer to the nature and seek a true harmony. As regards the fabrics of the collection, the glamorous silk is successfully combined with the more modest fabrics like linen. Accessories and trimmings are woven ropes, stone decorated traditional Latvian footwear pastalas and the jewelry made of semi-precious stone agate.

Inspiration for AW2010/ 2011 collection „LĀČPLĒSIS”
Lāčplēsis or "Bear-slayer" in English is the legendary hero of the 19th century Latvian epic. Lāčplēsis got his name after killing a bear by ripping its jaws apart with his hands. His strength was hidden in his ears, the ears of a bear, which represented the primeval forces of nature. 
According to the epic one of the principal tasks of Lāčplēsis was to fight the Black Knight. However, the outcome of the battle was inconclusive as both Lāčplēsis and his enemy fell in the river from a cliff and perished.
NARCISS turned the idea of the Latvian epic into the story of the heroine of our times who continues the fight with Black Knight, but this time it is not a physical but a spiritual fight. She embodies the strength and the wit of Lāčplēsis, but for her Lāčplēsis’ source of power – the ears of a bear – no longer embodies physical strength. Instead, it represents the ability to hear the voice of the heart and follow it. She is here to clear the minds of the people of ultra materialistic, individualistic and evil thoughts and propagate the spiritual knowledge and core human values.

Where are your pieces sold at and are you still based in Riga?
The design and production takes place in Riga, Latvia, which is a great location in terms of logistics (i.e. it is within European Union which give an easy access to other EU member states, as well as is neighbouring Russia, which is one of our main markets).
I, myself, spend one third of the time in Riga, the other third in Moscow, and the rest between London, Paris etc. With the AW2010/2011 collection we took part in the prestigious Pret-a-porter Paris trade show and currently the collection is in multi-label showroom AMAKA in London ( ). This is our third collection, and with this collection we will try to explore the European market as well (with previous collections we only focused on Russia). 
Currently we sell in multi-brand boutiques in Latvia, Russia, Belgium and now are finalising orders for AW2010/2011, for which we hope we will expand our European client base.

What do you think is a must-have for this spring?
A dress with sheer details.  My favorite is the one pictured.  It is in keeping with Grace Kelly's aesthetics--its feminine, beautiful and smart.  Its graceful.  The color and the fabric are perfect for warmer weather while the cut makes women feel beautiful.  It is made of linen with silk charmeuse.

I'm always so excited to see new talent that seems like it is actually going somewhere and I think that Narciss falls into that category.  The clothes are wearable by just about any woman, they are interesting in their own right and they're pretty.  The dress that Alise recommends for spring is perfect.  I could see myself wearing it.  I really hope that the line starts to really expand across Europe so it becomes easier to find.  When a line in its first year gets picked up to show at one of the major fashion weeks of the world you know that its going to be something worth following.

Pictures from Narciss, special thanks to Alise for taking the time to be interviewed.

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