Romani fashion designer wins one million Czech crowns, will launch brand
Romani fashion designer Pavel Berky has won the competition of the designer reality show "The Way". The main prize of the contest, which ran over the course of the last few months each Saturday on the cable television channel TV Óčko in the Czech Republic, is one million crowns [EUR 38 000] and the opportunity to develop a fashion brand.
From almost 100 applications the reality show jury ultimately chose eight designers to compete for the prize over the course of nine episodes. The young talents were tasked with creating clothing collections - men's, women's or unisex - that respect the principles of sustainable fashion and are inspired by the subject of heritage, or "legacy".
The winning collection will be available for sale this autumn at the Designer Gallery of the Chodov Shopping Center in Prague. Immediately after the winner was announced, news server Romea.cz recorded the interview below with him (original video here).
A fashion designer from Slovakia, Berky first won the prestigious TOP STYL DESIGNER 2012 fashion competition with his XY collection. That contest featured 23 competitors from four countries.
That same year he successfully presented his designs at the Dreft Fashion Week in Prague. In 2013, as part of the 9th annual prestigious Shooting Fashion Stars show, his collection won in the "most photogenic" category.
In 2014 Pavel presented his creations at the Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Week. In 2016 he fought his way through to be one of four finalists in the American fashion competition Exalt Fashion Show.
Last November he presented his collection in Salt Lake City at the final evening of that show, which he also won. Berky draws on the richness of Romani culture in his creations, and with the aid of his color choices, cuts and precise tailoring, his collections are original and unique.
This year Berky participated in Fashion Week in New York City with his autumn/winter collection. He currently lives and works in London.
Interview with Pavel Berky
Q: Why do you believe the jury has chosen you as the winner?
A: That's a difficult question. I believe my way through this competition was clear from the beginning in terms of what it is I am trying to say. During the first presentation the project I plannted to create was strong overall and I went for it, I never deviated, I stuck to the subject I had chosen. I also believe that the selected theme may not have exactly been appealing - it could even have seemed depressing to people - but despite that, I have the feeling that I actually managed to create an appealing women's collection from it.
Q: You have already participated in several such competitions. How was this one different?
A: It was absolutely different, the entire project was set up differently. I competed with a bigger number of designers simultaneously, and this award was probably the biggest I have received yet, which was why this contest appealed to me. Neither in the Czech Republic nor in Slovakia has there been a competition yet that would give a designer a chance at finally getting a brand on its own two feet.
Q: Were you ever afraid, during the competition, that you would not advance to the next round? If so, when? At the close of the contest it was clear that a big weight had been lifted from your heart when you won.
A: Each round was actually very stressful for me, but the absolutely most difficult was probably the first presentation, where I was competing with Vladimír Staněk. I know him, and I know he is an excellent designer. During the first presentation we were supposed to introduce the point of our entire project. All depended, therefore, on whether the jury would like the theme - and they liked mine! That was when I was the most relieved, because I'd been a bit afraid of exactly that theme - in our country, after all, it is considered a bit controversial. However, it all turned out well. The eight competitors were very strong, they were all very high-quality designers.
Q: Would you tell us a bit about the theme you chose? Did you really doubt whether it might not be too depressing? The collection ultimately does not give that impression. What motivated you to choose it?
A: Paradoxically, I was indirectly inspired by London, or rather by the contrast between London and Prague. Even though Prague looks very metropolitan and multicultural, compared to London, where I now live, there is an enormous difference. I always see it whenever I come back here during summer or at the end of the year. I believe the era before the Velvet Revolution really left a mark on us, that it is somehow still with us, and that we are having a difficult time leaving it behind. That does not necessarily have to be bad, rather, it's something characteristic of us: How we think, how we live, how we dress. From a creative standpoint, for me that era is very rich. However, I was not attempting to have the models look like they were from the socialist era - I always have in mind that the collections I create should be contemporary, modern. I believe I succeeded.
Q: What does winning one million crowns mean to you from a purely practical standpoint?
A: While I've won a million, that does not mean the entire amount will now arrive in my account. It is divided up for various services. One part will be spent for marketing my newly-created brand, and one part for buying the materials to create a new retail collection that will appear on the shelves at the Chodov Shopping Center, and part of it will finance photographing a lookbook. I personally will never see that money in any kind of material form.
Q: If you had to explain it simply, in one sentence, what have you won?
A: The opportunity to develop my own brand.
Q: What will that look like in the shopping center, in the showroom?
A: The Chodov Shopping Center is preparing a big new wing of the department store that will be called Designer Gallery. They want to present global luxury brands there. One of the boutiques will be set aside for the Czech-Slovak fashion scene. Czech and Slovak designers will present their collections there, I will be the first-ever guest designer hosted. I will have my own "pop-up", i.e., for a short time, a boutique with my own brand will be there where we will present an absolutely new collection, now being created, which should be ready during this summer.
Q: You've been living in London for two years already. What will change now that you've won - will you return there, will you work long-distance, or will you move?
A: I've thought a lot about how to combine life in London and Prague. I certainly do not want to return to Prague permanently, I see more opportunities in London. I have had to set aside some time for Prague, nevertheless, so I will return for the summer. I will remain until the collection is ready, because it is necessary to be on site to monitor the entire production process. Then, however, I'd like to travel back.
Q: During the show we saw eight pieces. Is that the complete collection people can buy, or will some more pieces be added?
A: It wasn't a condition that the collection must be sold in the form that it was seen during the final evening. The first meeting with the Chodov Shopping Center has already happened, and they were enthusiastic about the collection, they liked all of it. A big part of the collection, therefore, will be created from what I already have. However, there will be new pieces, and accessories, and during the time it's on sale there may even be some small surprises.
Q: In what sense?
A: I am thinking about whether I should add some men's or children's accessories, but at the moment I'm still at the phase where I have to first fine-tune the collection itself. So that remains to be seen.
Q: When can we go buy your clothes? When will it all be launched?
A: In October the gallery should open and then there will be an opportunity to buy my things.
Q: Is there some sort of ceremonial opening planned that we will be able to attend?
A: Yes, the grand opening is being planned. The first day will be a private showing, but the gallery will open the very next day to the public and it will be possible to buy the designs.
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