What today we know as the Romanian IA or “La Blouse Roumaine” represents the most representative clothing piece of the Romanian traditional ethnic costume. The first type of Romanian blouse is considered to have been born in Cucuteni Culture starting as early as the 6th century BC.
The Romanian IA
The detailed and colourful hand-made embroidery always bore the weight of numerous popular Romanian motifs, patterns, sacred geometry elements and mystic symbols. No element was left to chance. Each one of them was embroidered for a very good reason as by itself or all together they were telling a story. A story of the women who wore the Romanian IA. They were directly linked with the traditions and specificity of the region the IAs were made. The cut, the embroidery and even the colours on the IAs had a direct connection with the region of Romanian where they were made. One might say the IA comprises the life and history of the people living in that region.
Paul Poiret - opening the doors of tradition
It is only fair to say that it was Paul Poiret, the most fashionable dress designer of pre-World War I Paris, who got charmed by the beauty of the Romanian folk costume. Queen Mary of Romania, herself one the main promoter of the Romanian folkloric costume enjoyed wearing Poiret’s gowns. Most likely it is through this connection that the French designer got to know the Romanian traditional costume. Paul Poiret made some of his the most beautiful designs for his wife based on the elements of Romanian folkloric costumes.
Poiret opened the Romanian IA’s doors to the world’s fashion elite. Many years later the beauty of the handmade embroidery of folkloric costumes captured the attention of designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Tom Ford, Emilio Pucci, Isabel Marant, Joseph Altuzzara etc. So, it’s no wonder that many actresses, singers and TV stars were spotted wearing blouses inspired by the Romanian IA: Gwyneth Paltrow, Sophia Loren, Raquel Welch, Ali McGraw, Emma Stone, Halle Berry, Jennifer Garner, Kate Moss, Katie Holmes, Kirsten Dunst, Adele, Khloe Kardashian or Rita Wilson.
Yves Saint Laurent's "La blouse Roumaine"
Yet, despite Poiret’s efforts, it was Yves Saint Laurent, the world’s first famous designer, to officially introduce the Romanian IA into a fashion his collection back in 1981 in Paris. Almost 50 years later after Henri Matisse finished his painting “La blouse Roumaine”, Yves Saint Laurent launched his autumn-winter haute couture collection. It was as a homage to Matisse’s famous painting and as you can below the resemblance is astonishing, yet you can easily spot the designer’s personal touch.
Yves Saint Laurent, also reimagined a stylized skirt inspired after the Romanian folk skirt “fota” that is usually worn by Romanian women. It’s probably by chance that Yves Saint Laurent’s Romanian-inspired pieces made the tour of museums around the world.
In 2009 with the occasion of Fashion Festival “Pasarela”, Laurent’s collection was on display at The National Art Museum in Bucharest.
Chapeau to all designers giving credit!
Philippe Guilet (2011) - 100%.RO PREJUDICES
In November 2011 Phillipe Guilet, a French designer based in Romania launched an entire Romanian-inspired collection called 100%.RO Prejudices. It was a special project aiming to show the world a different face of Romania. The collection aimed to promote Romania’s cultural patrimony and image abroad. A daring response to the negative stereotypes against Romanians at national and international level.
The astonishing 34 outfits, reinterpreting the Romanian cultural patrimony were created by the designer with the contribution of over 50 Romanian artisans was presented on the 10th of November 2011, in Bucharest.
Guilet’s inspiration came from the wooden roofs in Maramureș, the hand-painted Easter eggs, the Endless Column of Constantin Brâncuși and the symbols of the old Romanian embroidery. In a modern artistic expression he combined the ship skin, pottery, glass and metal. Check Guilet’s latest Romanian inspired projects.
Back to Matisse & La Blouse Roumaine
Tata Naka, Issa London & Aquilani Rimondi (2015)
My stories about the Romanian folkloric costume started with Matisse’s La Blouse Roumaine, so I guess it’s only natural to go back to him as he continues to inspire fashion designers all over the world.
Over time Matisse’s style has evolved and so did the Romanian-inspired paintings. This is can be clearly seen in his late ’40 and ’50 pieces. Just the same, more fashion designers found their inspiration in Matisse’s paintings. Laird Borrelli-Persson, Vogue.com‘s Editor, mentioned in one of her articles, that it was also Matisse’s “La blouse Roumaine” who inspired designers such as Tata Naka, Issa London, or Aquilano Rimondi.
Chapeau, to all those fashion designers who give credit and honor the cultural heritage and the traditions that have been around the world for thousands of year. Unfortunately, there are also some fashion designers who forget to #givecredit.