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Interview with Oldřiška Křížová (OLO) – Czech Republic

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Model, stylist, designer, creative director, friend, fighter, muse, photographer, initiator, performer, adviser. I think I can say that nobody does more things for Czech fashion nowadays. Meet Oldřiška Křížová, better known as Olo.

Olo, what does fashion mean to you?
For me, fashion is a mirror of the society and its evolution. In fashion I can see where the society stands right at the moment.

Did you start as a model?
No, school was the first kick, I studied textile high school in Brno, I’m the knitter (laugh).

I see, so first was designing!
Yes yes, and I still like it very much.

Do you knitt?
Not yet. But I’m sure I will some day.

And how did you become a professional model?
We wore our works/clothes at school fashion shows, so one day I’ve got caught by people from agency. But I didn’t jump right in it, I finished high school first. But instead of going to university in Liberec, I’ve chosen modeling and went for my first job to NY at age of 21. It was very intense and very soon after that I got job in Asia. Because I’m really short for a model, it was ideal for Asian market. In coming years I had several jobs in Asia and they were probably the biggest and greatest life lessons back than.

Now you work mostly as a stylist. Can you describe the path from a student, model, fashion creative to a stylist?
I always knew I’m into fashion. As a kid I thought I wanted to be a designer. But later I found out there is term called stylist. By the way, we still don’t get the word stylist right, people treat stylists in comparison to designers in some kind of punk way. Thanks to modeling and travelling I found out that styling is what I’m interested in, I’m not a person, who designs stuff, I love to work with already made clothes. I realized it was in me since childhood, I have been always doing collages and stuff like that. I love the inner side of fashion, I’m not interested in it superficially as a model – that I wear it and pose for the camera. The whole modeling / travelling circus was a great experience because thanks to that I got to know, how the whole business really works.

You learnt about fashion from all aspects, that is very important.
Yes, it was the best. Modeling was some kind of inner therapy for me, that’s for sure, but from professional side, I really learned a lot.

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What about Olo The Model these days?
I used to postponed the end of modeling career (laugh), when I was 25 my boyfriend told me I was too old to do that. I’m not going the catwalks since 30 and if so, it’s some kind of performance. But for photo-shooting I still have some clients and when they ask me, why not? Denisa Nová, Liběna (Rochová – editor’s note), Jakub (Polanka – editor’s note) and a few foreign clients, I have about three jobs a year. And I really enjoy that, but I can’t do it more, because to be a model, it’s a profession. If I wanted to, I would be a „40“ model and work around the globe, but it’s a full time job..

That’s for sure, you can’t be model, stylist, organiser..
Yes, it’s not possible to do all at once, you must invest your time in everything..

It’s said that models very often don’t even like fashion, it’s just a great job, you can travel a lot..
Definitely, they don’t have to understand fashion. Modeling is a job and I would say skill or craft, too. There is really bad situation in Czech republic. Good model is not just a nice girl.

Don’t tell me that Czech designers struggle not only to find a good craftsmen, bud also models?
It’s true, but these problems are for separate interviews (laugh). We have great stuff that works here and there, but it is still so rare. And what’s more, models are not well paid, so if they are really skilled and have a opportunity, they run away to foreign countries. We have really tiny market and there is still the „Miss“ status, Slavic girl, big breasts, but this is not modeling.

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As a creative director, you are the woman behind last year’s Prague and Bratislava Fashion Weekend. Can you tell me something about it? Me and agency director Janina Šlemínová (Olo is creative director in Stars communication agency, they bring us for example Shooting Fashion Stars and some other fashion projects) prepared new concept of the event and because we were asked we put it to CZ models agency. Our agencies became partners and we prepared the event in a brand new concept. We used the structures of a classic fashion week, it’s not like we invented something new. We just modified the concept for the Czech/Slovak conditions, so it could work. For example, in the world’s fashion weeks, days are filled with shows, but to do a fashion show at 9 a.m. in Prague? Nobody would come, we don’t have buyers nor journalists.

Everybody talks about Fashion Weekend as a event of the year, what is your opinion?
We made a huge step forward, some media responded well and understood what the fashion weekend is. We stayed with the name weekend not week, because fashion events are in Czech Republic still more for public than for professionals. We still don’t have buyers, or there is really a few of them. Of course we could invite some buyers from abroad, but they would not come, because they need to see collections in one year advance, so they can make orders in autumn and have the collections stocked through the summer. Czech Republic doesn’t work like that and they know it, that’s why they don’t come. We have autumn shows and present autumn collections. Czech designers works on basis of private customers.  They see something and want it right away. But in the world it doesn’t work like this, the only ones who go to see the shows, are buyers and journalists. And the next 6 months is plenty of time to work with the collections, trends and so..

Do you think we will reach this someday?
Well, that’s the ambition of Prague (Bratislava) Fashion Weekend.

You had shows also in Bratislava, any differences to Prague?
Huge, of course.

What exactly is the difference?
Aesthetically in Slovakia it’s not just about minimalism, they are much more decorative. The most popular thing in Bratislava would not be even accepted in Prague, for example. From the professional side of view, they are very disciplined. We actually started with Bratislava and we had no experience with Slovakia, so we had no idea what to expect at all. But I was very surprised in the best possible way. Models, agencies, backstage, everything worked perfectly. They have somehow a better feeling for fashion. You go for a ball and everybody looks wonderful. Really. We don’t talk about taste here, that’s everybody’s  thing, but in Slovakia, everybody looks beautiful and fresh in general. They care about themselves much more than the Czechs do. Media are on the same level I guess, but Slovak fashion has more space in magazines.

How can we achieve that in Czech Republic?
I don’t see to the editors’ offices, for sure, but I think many of them are under control from abroad. We simply don’t hesitate to sell out ourselves and we kiss asses to those, who pay. And that is exactly what is happening in Czech Republic. I don’t say there can’t be any commercials, but there is still so much space left. The way is easy, journalist will care more about Czech fashion. They are not interested in it yet, they are not professionals. In Italy, for sure, you will not meet a 25 year old fashion journalist. Young people begin with assistant jobs.

But it comes hand in hand with fashion pr, which seems to be poor too..
Yes, there are really a few pr agencies who know how to do it right.

It’s a vicious circle.
It is.. I still think about how it could work and I can see it clearly. But we need time, I guess.

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Let’s talk about your other project, Shooting Fashion Stars is a concept for young designers, who are just stepping into the grown up fashion scene. This April will be its 9th edition, does it go the right way and what is the event goal? I think it is on the right path. It’s a non profit project, it grows more and more. Czechs are very careful and diffident, so the event went through many phases, what would in Milan take 4 years became 8 in Prague. But it’s ok. It is not just about fashion shows anymore, last year we had exhibition, now we have showrooms, in general, we would like to extend the event for more days, so we can also present designers, who took part in last years, we want to continue working with them. For myself, SFS is also about building the platform for a future fashion week. It would be so great if we had SFS as a part of fashion week in the future.

What is your time horison?
My goal is two years.

Many people see fashion as a snobby, superficial or needless. Can we change this paradigm?
Everything is in education. Public need to be educated, confronted, media need to write this is fashion, this is fashion design. Boutiques also need to work better, talk to consumers. I just started to cooperate with owner of La Gallery Novesta Hanka Zouvalová these days, I’m in the boutique one day a week and talk to consumers. I don’t try to sell, but to explain.

I also think the problem is our distrust to ourselves. We don’t believe our feelings and sixth senses, we follow the crowd, want the things people say are good. Is this just Czech vein?
Oh yes, it’s just the Czech thing. Everywhere in the world people buy things they really want and like. They don’t care about the designer at all. There can be a young student sitting next to her stuff saying „Hey, that’s made by myself“. And the consumers say „Wow, it’s great“ and they get to know her better, they learn the story behind the clothes, which they will never forget. That is way much more for them than just status confirmation with monogram LV. I guess our main problem is the laziness. We don’t want to work. Our values are devastated.

It will change..
It will change in the moment we wake up and start doing things. If not, it won’t change. We will sit in front of the TV, with beer and chips..

Classic..
Like the presidential election. We choose a man, who has a specific list of values. It doesn’t mean he is a redneck. He is educated man, he is just not much into the art scene, aesthetics or spiritual growth. The main thing is to satisfy his basic needs, that’s why Czechs has chosen him. We don’t want more than the certainty. But we don’t realize, that nobody can give us such a thing. We can find certainty just in ourselves, in the faith.

Should Czech designers count with this Czech character?
Please not, they shouldn’t sell themselves. I try to encourage everybody to do the fashion from their inner self. You must feel the client, no doubt, but…

You live fashion, do you have time to get inspired by other things?
I must, if I wouldn’t be interested in others things I would be dead! I love art, dance, literature, film, video art, photography, everything is blending.. In general, I love all kinds of creation.

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And what about your label Olo Dressing?
Olo Dressing had a break, but I’m working on new street collection these days, again with Ondřej Oparek. He is preparing the design, I’m looking forward so much. And I’m very excited also about one other thing. I was asked by Moravska Galerie to make an exhibition about fashion.

No way, perfect! Theme?
Silhouette. Things, that can change silhouettes, they are like sculptures, but still a piece of clothes. We start this autumn and it will run for 7 months, which is very long time for fashion, hard work.. I’m very nicely surprised, that they choose my concept and I appreciate this cooperation very much. I sent them concept about year ago and I was about to say ok, I’m probably not the right one to do it, but just before Christmas they called and approved it. I’m very happy, great team of people. It’s a chain of exhibition planned for several years in a row, which is also very i important, the continuity, if it will work and have a good reaction.

What about Milan?
I work there several years with Karel Losenicky as a stylist and I coming back to Prague because of Fashion Weekend. But I want go back to Milan, i miss the city. I’m seeking the way I could work both in Milan and Prague.

Do you feel like home there?
Yes, very. Of course I will never be home there. But it’s like this: when I come to Prague, I’m happy to be home (Olo s from Brno – editors’ note), when I go to Milan, I sometimes weep with emotion, that I’m back in beloved town. I love to work there and I can breath there.

Thank you very much Olo for you time and good luck in whatever you will do! http://www.olo-dressing.cz/

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