Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Horst Interview: Gyarfas Olah

Rozalb de Mura Spring/Summer 2009

Flamboyant exuberance and austere minimalism - a contradictory pairing that describes best the Rozalb de Mura collection. The creative work of Romanian designer and Lynn & Horst favorite Gyarfas Olah. Many kisses for the translation of this wonderful interview to Dragos Olea, a man of words, manners and incredible charm.

Gyarfas, how are you? Where have you been the last days?

I am excellent, thank you. I’m at the atelier working on the last details for the Fall/Winter 2009 collection and thinking a lot of London.

What about your future collection for Spring/Summer 09? Is there a signature piece? Or one piece you struggled with. Something you wanted to throw away but finally brought to perfection?

For the Rozalb de Mura SS09 collection I took inspiration from the intricate techniques involved in manufacturing a traditional Hungarian folk costume, as well as the distant and troubled past when wars were raging and freedom was ardently craved and fiercely fought for. "Vitezkotes", Hungarian for "the string of the brave", is the beautifully embroidered black string that nowadays is a graphic decoration on the traditional Hungarian male costume. This is the symbol that ignited my curiosity and made me delve into XIX century cutting and assembling techniques. Frankly, I struggled with all the pieces. But no, there is not a star piece as all of them are extremely beautiful.

The Fall/Winter 08/09 collection contains a lot of black, shiny plastic surfaces and applications, deconstructed classics like avant-garde versions of the down jacket. What's the story behind?

For the FW 08/09 Rozalb de Mura collection entitled “The Thing”, I loved the mystery and austerity conveyed by the sheer blackness of an all black lot. What I had in mind was the feel and look of an ancient lava specimen. It’s as if all pieces have been immersed in a black viscous liquid, and then brought to surface bearing the lobe-like traces due to the solidification process. I wanted a combination of organic excess and black camouflage, with many hidden details: curved cuts, hidden pockets, two-in-ones, false folds and other secret traits that sometimes only the wearer can really appreciate.

Fall/Winter 2008

What is the head/mouth piece about? Any historical references?

No historical references. Just the same delicious texture of frozen viscous lava that turned into an accessory. A brooch or a necklace.

I have the feeling there are two hearts beating inside of you: exaggeration vs. minimalism. Would you sign that?

You are a subtle observer. Indeed I adore minimalism, and paradoxically enough, I’m drawn to the flamboyant exuberance and foolishness of the '80s. I try to combine two extremes; to reach a well-balanced mix that in my clothes could be translated into bold ideas and apparently classical cuts. A contemporary look with a vaguely perverse air here and there, daring insertions and unexpected details.

When looking back at your first collection, what was the driving force and what would you do differently in retrospective?

It is not with the weight of a critical look that I consider my first collection. Anyway, a lifetime seemed to have passed since. Strange, white puffed-up volumes over the muscular bodies of the boys from the national Venezuelan canoe team. It seems really remote, also because I’m left only with some pictures of it.

Fall/Winter 2006

What fascinates you about myth and telling a story with your collections?

The urge to tell a story is the driving force behind a Rozalb de Mura collection. I don’t just make clothes, pieces of apparel that stylishly cover a body. I would be impossibly bored by the technicality of that. What moves me is plunging into an entire different world each time, which can be disconcerting at the beginning; nevertheless this feeling of being lost in a totally new world pushes me further.

Can you define a leitmotif of your designs? An unconscious motivation that makes you create?

A leitmotif could be this struggle to conciliate my ‘two hearts beating inside me’, as you said. Taming the gusts of exuberance or maybe enlivening the austere minimalism. Searching for answers. Allowing myself to be wondered.

What means Romania to you? And how was it to emerge from a country, seemingly not connected with fashion at all, please correct me if I am wrong...

Romania within me is rather complex a notion. I’m an ethnic Hungarian and live in a small town in Transylvania, in a magic landscape surrounded by mountains, where the pace of life is blissfully serene and out-of-time, really. Bucharest seems as remote as Paris or Saigon for that matter. Romania is the ex-communist country to which I belong, with a small, still struggling to coagulate fashion scene. It is definitely quite conservative and underdeveloped.

The view from Gyarfas' garden

Romania is also the amazing surroundings in which I live. Nature in its splendidly indifferent, almost crashing-you-down beauty. The Carpathians mountains and forests with their vaguely menacing air about them, lakes and wood and rocks, rough textures and materialities.

You understand Rozalb de Mura as multidisciplinary platform. What does that mean for you? What were the latest projects?

It’s about the exciting process of working with various artists. Rozalb de Mura's relation to contemporary art, music and film is a strong one. In the 21st century boundaries between fashion, art, and design became charmingly fluid. Together with the team I work with, we are involved in several multidisciplinary projects. Rozalb de Mura commissioned the British sound artist Mikhail Karikis to compose the music for our shows at Ideal Berlin and On|Off London. He in turn commissioned us to do special pieces for his performances and a special drawing for his stunning Morphica album that will be released this March. Other projects we are very proud of is the design of a limited bag for the Contemporary Art Biennale in Berlin – ‘When Things Cast No Shadow’ and the first museum exhibition "Anyone but me, anywhere but here"; a joint project with visual artists Olivia Mihaltianu. The exhibition was commissioned by the prestigious Contemporary Art Gallery of the Brukenthal Museum, Sibiu and was followed by invitations to major fashion & art projects.

Exhibition piece "Anyone but me, anywhere but here"

Since I’m passionate about interior design I had the chance to work with Liste Noire, an interior design team that came up with the three different looks of the Rozalb de Mura store based on the collections.

What would you like to do next? Designing a shelf system, creating a magazine, building a house?

You guessed right. I’d very much like to build a special home, wood and stone, in a beautiful village nearby.

And what about boys? I mean, we all adore them and I fell in love with the guy in dungarees of your Desert City collection. And most important: are you taken?

I was absorbed in dutifully answering your serious questions so this one took me a little by surprise. It made me smile. Antony Hogarty’s lyrics came to mind: ‘All those beautiful boys / Kings and Queens and criminal queers / All those beautiful boys / Tattoos of ships and tattoos of tears’.

Do you have a muse. If no, can I get the role?

Of course, but you will have to stand naked, smiling and frozen in a gracious position for 8 hours a day in my chocolate-brown workshop. Bearing a pineapple in your right hand.

Horst holding pineapple

I'm ready.


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