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The Agencies and Models Shaping Warsaw’s Fashion Scene

In the past, Polish fashion was characterized by extravagant, richly-embroidered dresses and Gorals, hard-soled leather moccasins. Today, a new generation of homegrown creative entrepreneurs is pushing Warsaw to the forefront of fashion.

Designers who have trained in London, Rome and Paris are returning to their home city to launch their own labels. Some, such as MISBHV, have already garnered international attention.

The Agencies

If you’re an aspiring model, it is important to find the right agency. The best model agencies are those that offer professional training and guidance. They will also help you develop your portfolio and find modeling jobs in the industry. In Poland, there are several model agencies that are highly regarded in the fashion world. These include Divsion Model Management, Avant Models, and Wave Models. Divsion Model Management is a full-service agency that represents both women and men. They work with national and international clients and models. They have a strong focus on personal development and provide excellent customer service.

Polish designers are often known for their bespoke tailoring skills and have a penchant for using the most sumptuous fabrics. A visit to Warsaw’s Mokotowska district is a must for fashion lovers. One of the city’s most coveted designs is by Mariusz Przybylski, who has a minimalist aesthetic and offers clothes that are priced at Zara levels. His pared back separates for men and women (this season’s collection included light wool/moleskin cotton biker jackets, textured jersey shirts, and joggers) are both beautifully designed and made.

Another designer gaining popularity in Poland is Natalia Oleksyn-Wajda, who is a former competitor on the TV talent show Poland’s Next Top Model Cycle 6. Her brand Woshwosh is dedicated to sustainability and produces clothing that is eco-friendly and ethically made. Its textiles are made of recycled materials, free from harmful chemicals and are produced without the use of animal products.

A must-see is the Museum of Poster Design, which is located near the Wilanow Palace. It features a large collection of both vintage and contemporary posters. It’s a great place to learn about the history of Warsaw and to admire some of its most beautiful art.

MISBHV

From girlish blondes with minimalist tendencies to eclectic divas and edgy glam rock beauties, Poland has a diverse population that embraces fashion. But it’s the new generation that is truly redefining the country’s style landscape. Whether they’re wearing bespoke tailoring or polishing up their innate cool with accessories from MISBHV, the nation’s young, fashionable residents are taking it to the next level.

Founded by Natalia Maczek and Thomas Wirski, MISBHV is a post-Soviet brand that is reworking the traditional concept of contemporary streetwear. The duo’s DIY aesthetic and a no-holds-barred approach to design is proving incredibly effective as the brand’s clientele continues to grow. The fussiest streetwear aficionados and celebrities, from Rihanna to Bella Hadid, have taken the brand’s pieces to heart.

When it comes to designing their collections, the duo cites a unique European perspective on club and rave culture as well as memories of their youth in post-socialist Poland as major influences. The designers also draw inspiration from ’90s sportswear and disco, as well as art and music, with quotes from the late David Bowie scattered across everything from bowling shirts to corset-style bustier tops.

In January 2015, MISBHV staged its first fashion show in a showroom at Paris Fashion Week and began selling their clothing to stores like MARGIELA and GR8. This year, the pair debuted their SS2019 collection in Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, with an artistic installation that fused traditional Polish folk dances with an industrial soundtrack.

In a sense, the show was a statement on the conflict between tradition and modernity that defines Poland’s current climate. It’s a theme that runs throughout the pair’s designs, with their latest collection referencing 1966 Warsaw poster art and collaborating with local artist Roslaw Szaybo to create prints on their t-shirts and outerwear.

Ania Kuczynska

The city’s mesmerising designers, ranging from bespoke tailors who specialised in storing outlawed bourgeois fabrics to newly graduated talents, are starting to get noticed internationally. While my visit coincided with the graduation of the first fashion diploma graduates from Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts, I had a chance to meet some of their best designers – and see their collections – for a weekend of heart-warming fashion and fun.

Having studied in Rome and Paris, Kuczynska came back to Poland with the ambition to create a label of her own. She’s been successful, establishing herself as one of the country’s most distinctive brands and opening her own boutique on Mokotowska Street in the capital’s chicest neighborhood. Her designs exemplify the city’s style, featuring a well balanced blend of striking geometry and modernity with a tinge of girlish romanticism.

Her newest collection, presented off the schedule and titled ‘East’, is her most refined so far. With black and contrasting denim accents, it glances at the historic elegance of Polish noblemen from the 16th-17th centuries. Even the names of her pieces, such as ‘Baikal’ or ‘Bydliska’ (both referring to Polish rivers), have a distinctly Slavic vibe.

As much as her work is inspired by historical references, Kuczynska doesn’t shy away from the social and political issues of today. Often emphasising the importance of women’s rights and equality, she also has a strong political streak reflected in her choice of materials – the aforementioned ‘Baikal’ and ‘Bydliska’ are both made from wool sourced from a cooperative owned by displaced refugees. She says it’s important to highlight the impact of social injustices and to bring awareness about the refugee crisis to a wider audience.

KAASKAS

The sisters who own KAASKAS (Kasia always sticks to the plan while Julia is the negotiator and manager) have revolutionised Polish pret-a-porter by introducing it as art that can be placed in different contexts. Their collection of t-shirts, dresses and accessories is a testament to their talent, smart reference and love for music, art and travelling. The latest addition to their fashion family – Drapella – offers made to measure, exclusive dresses perfect for any occasion!

Before founding Dream Nation Luzia Jacob worked in management at a clothing corporation, which ultimately triggered her frustration with the politics of big fashion companies. This is reflected in her stripped back sports inspired collections of genderless and gendered shapes and slogans. The brand aims to merge high-fashion with streetwear, all while keeping production, fabrics and printing as ethical as possible.

Kate already has a penchant for Renata Kocielska’s Etui label, which creates the textured envelope clutch bags she’s been seen wearing on recent engagements and at Trooping the Colour. Another label that’s sure to find it’s way into the royal wardrobe is Zofia Chylak, who trained at Proenza Schouler in New York and creates pared back designs with the potential to become a cult favourite on Instagram.

As a city that’s very much about the new and brave, it’s no surprise that Warsaw is also a hub of innovative retail. Its stores are as inventive as the designers who work within them, with many offering a range of services such as personal stylists, private workshops and even hair and makeup. They’re also teaming with young, forward thinking talent, with a plethora of startups launching from the city.

Mariusz Przybylski

From Warsaw’s fashion designers to the bespoke tailoring houses that hid outlawed bourgeois fabrics in their vaults during the communist era, Poland is a surprising hotbed for talent. Despite its often-overlooked status on the international fashion map, the country is a major manufacturer of garments for luxury brands in Europe, and many graduates from top schools in London, Milan or Paris have returned home to set up their own boutiques.

As a result, Polish fashion is influenced by a rich history that goes far beyond the prevailing minimalist tendencies of the West. After World War II, Poles had to constantly manoeuvre between Paris and Moscow, silhouettes of the West and patterns of the East, dreams and poverty, conformism and rebellion. It wasn’t until the end of the 1970s that a new generation emerged who wanted to bring ‘common sense’ to ideas and fashion trends. It was the time of the practical Lucynka and the flighty Paulinka, who both strove for stability and functionality in clothes.

During this period, modest clothing resources reached Poland from the charity work of UNRRA, and some elegant women started to recycle surplus parachutes. They created dresses and blouses with thin, closely woven silk or nylon. Women’s hair was also adorned with turbans, as they defended themselves against the ubiquitous dust that polluted the city.

In the meantime, a new generation of designers was emerging in Poland, led by Mariusz Przybylski and a group of his friends. They established PO/3, a boutique that promotes Polish craftsmanship and celebrates local products in limited editions. The shop has a unique, welcoming atmosphere that makes it feel less like a conventional store. Its owners focus on creating a relationship with their customers, offering services to help them find the perfect outfit for any occasion.

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