Number of pages: 272
Publisher: Adam Mickiewicz Institute / OsnoVa
Editing: Karolina Sulej
Each chapter in the album explores a different decade in the history of Polish fashion.
The authors begin with the elation of 1918, the year Poland finally regained independence. The new era brought great hopes and expectations—with a renascent state and rebuilt institutions came a new sense of community that could be defined and expressed through fashion. The reborn industry drew on the finest examples from France and Italy, where fashion markets with long and storied traditions operated through established department stores and seasonal collections.
Then, the Second World War breaks out, stripping fashion of much of its meaning, but failing to prevent it from engaging with reality in a peculiar dialogue. With the war’s end in 1945, fashion, as a key area of social life, is quickly subordinated to ideological objectives and tasked with reinforcing the new public order and embodying Communist morality.
A measure of freedom is brought by the 1960s and ‘70s – the era marked by the foundation of “Moda Polska” under the stewardship of Jadwiga Grabowska, whose designs drew popular and critical acclaim across Western Europe.
The 1980s brought massive changes, in politics and fashion alike. It was a time of subcultures, the first rock festivals, and widespread resistance to Communist authority. The fashion choices of key opposition figures in Poland quickly became the stuff of legend: Lech Wałęsa clad himself in blue-collar chic, usually wearing jackets over turtlenecks, while Jacek Kuroń, the co-founder of the Workers’ Defense Committee, preferred denim shirts.
After the collapse of the Communist regime in 1989, Polish fashion kept evolving across subsequent decades along with the country, both growing into their modern incarnations.
At present, cutting-edge Polish fashion no longer seeks to prove itself or catch up to anyone, no longer seeks to imitate but instead strives to tread its own path while drawing on its rich and storied traditions.
Poland is finally positioned to secure a place for itself at the forefront of fashion, and its unique experiences may help it recast itself as an industry lodestar.
The authors of the essays collected in the album are uniquely disposed to explore and write about fashion in a broader context, gifted as they are with social sensibility and writerly intuition.