ANDRA HANDARIC is a young fashion designer that just completed an internship with Gareth Pugh and graduated a BA in Fashion Design – Westminster University. With previous studies in Fine Arts in the University of Arts & Design Cluj Napoca and École Supérieure d’Art et Design Saint-Étienne she is constantly exploring the boundaries between art and fashion, being inspired by her cultural background and by her Romanian roots. Her universe is built around a variety of archaic production techniques and values, emphasizing the contrast between clean structured cuts and rich textures. Her last collection, Isihia – A Manifesto for the spirit aims to emphasize the spiritual value that exists in a stark, monastic environment and takes inspiration from Eastern European monachal clothing. It is made out of basic materials and most importantly, it covers most of the body.
TPM: Since the ancient world, black or white clothing symbolises a person’s elevated status. Somehow, the historical context of black clothing still has a great importance among young people today. In your collections are mainly kept in black, with the rare addition of white or grey. Why?
ANDRA HANDARIC: Black works for me, I like the aura it provides and I love experimenting with textures and shapes, another reason why black is always a good choice.
TPM: In your latest fashion collection, you worked solely with the colour black. What was the idea behind it?
ANDRA HANDARIC: ISIHIA is an entirely black collection as it aims to emphasise the spiritual value that exists in a stark, monastic environment and takes inspiration from monastic cloth- ing. The human face is charged with cult value and it becomes the only mean of com- munication between the person and their surroundings, while the cloth becomes a shelter, a protective layer under which mystery regains value. The whole concept is based on the dichotomy of physical covering and spiritual disclosure, as a chal- lenge to inner contemplation. As an antipode to entirely black clothing, the inner “whiteness” pervades through the uncovered head.
TPM: Monks’ robes inspired your latest collection. What gave you the idea?
ANDRA HANDARIC: I have always been deeply rooted in Eastern European Spirituality due to my origin, this collection was something that came out in a moment when I recon- nected myself to my spiritual self. After a long pilgrimage I found myself fascinated with the genuineness of monastic clothing and the way it encompasses both mod- esty and majesty, unrestraint and sobriety. Apart from that, I got inspired by the writings of Byung-Chul-Han, contemporary theorist and philosopher, who speaks about “the exposure value” as a main driver of our society -(“Everything is turned inside-out, revealed, naked, stripped and exposed”).
TPM: Are you aware of the historical context of the colours black and white? Do you know of their symbolic meaning? Do you work with it in your design work? (e.g. black = nobility, do you chose fabrics accordingly?)
ANDRA HANDARIC: More than that, I am aware of the preconceptions regarding black and it’s effect on people’s perception, and that was the aspect I wanted to work with this time. Therefore, I wanted to dismantle the idea that black relates to negativeness or that it creates blockages on the ones wearing it.
TPM: Who buys black?
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