IA – The Romanian Fashion Icon

This is the short story of how two painters’ friendship and their admiration for the traditional symbols turned decades later the Romanian IA into a fashion icon.

The brief story on how Romanian IA turned from a traditional folk blouse into a fashion icon.Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford, Emilio Pucci, Oscar de la Renta, and Philippe Guilet, just to mention a few, found a genuine source of inspiration in the Romanian traditional clothing. Truth is, it all started with Matisse’s paintings… My Romanian IA tells you the whole story

Yves Saint Laurent’s “La blouse Roumaine”

Back in Paris in 1981, almost 50 years later since French post-impressionist modernist Matisse, finished his painting “La blouse Roumaine”, Yves Saint Laurent launched his autumn-winter haute couture collection. It was as homage to Matisse’s famous painting and as you can below the resemblance is astonishing, yet you ca easily spot Yves Saint Laurent’s personal touch.

Didier Grumbach, Dean at the French Institute of Fashion, said that for his Romanian collection, Yves Saint Laurent “had inspired from something that he loved most”. Yves Saint Laurent, also reimagined a stylized skirt inspired after the Romanian folk skirt “fota” that is usually wore by Romanian women…  and it’s probably by chance that Yves Saint Laurent’s Romanian-inspired pieces  made the tour of museums around the world, arriving also in Romania in 2009 at The National Art Museum with the occasion of Fashion Festival “Pasarela”

Ford, de la Renta & Pucci

Joseph Altuzzara

French-born, luxury women’s ready-to-wear clothing designer Joseph Altuzarra, launched his brand, Altuzarra, in New York in 2008. The patterns from some of the pieces of Alturazza’s  Pre-Spring 2014 collection are not similar or inspired, but quite identical! No personal touch, no real contribution of his own. The gallery below illustrates quite well, I would say, this resemblance. I was really happy to easily find great quality online resources documenting Romanian traditional embroidery. Ioana Corduneanu’s blog is just one of them.

Yet, Altuzarra told Vogue magazine that this collection he designed this supremely elegant collection “in the heat of summer—in Greece,” and the clothes certainly seemed ready to waft into an Aegean island wardrobe.

Don’t get me wrong, Greek traditional embroidery is amazing, yet has nothing to do with Romanian tradition. You will never see a meander (aka meandrous), the so well-known Greek decorative motif on a Romanian IA. Oh, yes, I forgot, when it comes to marketing, Greece or Aegean Sea sound much better than Romania!

Philippe Guilet – 100% Romanian

In 2012 Phillipe Guilet, Phillipe Guilet, a French designer based in Romania launched an entire Romanian-inspired collection called Bear with you Romania’s beautiful reflection – 100%.ro. It was a special project aiming to show the world a different face of Romania.

In love with Romanian, the former research director for Jean-Paul Gaultier who also worked with Jean Paul Gautier and Karl Lagerfeld brought together 50 craftsmen and women from Romania, including Virginia Linul, a Romanian artist well-known from Bistrita Nasaud, well-known for her traditional clothing pieces.Have a look at the great pictures taken by Andrei Ivan, one of our talented photographers.  Chapeau, Phillipe Guilet!

Back to Matisse’s IA

Over time Matisse’s style has evolved and so did his Romanian-inspired pantings and this is can be clearly seen in his late ’40 and ’50 pieces.

“Seek the strongest color effect possible… the content is of no importance.” Henri Matisse

Laird Borrelli-Persson, Vogue.com‘s Archive Editor, mentioned in one of her articles, that it was also Matisse’s “La blouse Roumaine” who more recently inspired designers such as Tata Naka, Issa London, or Aquilano.Rimondi.

The good news about Romanian IA

The tradition of manufacturing the blouse is still kept among artisans across Romanian villages. They kept the tradition alive over centuries and passed on their inheritance to the younger generations.

In recent years, more and more Romanian designers are looking for inspiration in the traditional folk symbols and reinterpret them in their own personal style, while adding a modernist touch…. But most probably this could be a great topic for a future blog post.

Posted by Ana-Maria Bogdan

  1. Foarte frumos articolul, frumusetea iilor noastre este ceva greu de descris in cuvinte, toti trebuie sa le vada pentru a intelege valoarea pe care o au, nu vorbim numai despre minunatia care sunt, ci si despre valoarea lor spirituala pentru noi, Românii de pretutindeni. Trebuie vazute, mângâiate cu privirea si cu sufletul. Trebuie purtate. Cu orgoliu ca sunt românesti si marii creatori de moda si-au gasit inspiratia in ele sau chiar le-au copiat in intregime. Bravo, Ana-Maria Bogdan!


    1. Ana Maria Bogdan August 3, 2015 at 8:37 am

      Multumesc mult pentru feedback, Carmen! Intr-adevar, IA este una dintre acele mosteniri pe care acest popor le are si ar trebui pretuita ca atare. Pregatesc de ceva vreme o continuare, dar de aceasta data, subiectul va fi simbolistica elementelor brodate pe iile romanesti. Din pacate, astfel de materiale necesita multa documentare, sper insa ca atunci cand il vei citi sa-ti placa.


  2. Super! Abia aştept continuarea!


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