By Carrie Snurr
On Tuesday September 12, Czech Republic born designer Iva Pfeiffer previewed her latest collection at the residence of the Czech ambassador H.E. Hynek Kmonícek and his wife Indira Gumarova.
The collection, titled TRANSLATIONS, fuses Indian block printing and a blue print design that is distinctive of the of the Czech region of Moravia. TRANSLATIONS will make its full debut at the 2017 Milan Fashion Week.
“With this collection, I tried to make it wearable,” She said. “I was very happy that after [the show] the audience said, ‘oh, that’s very great, it’s so wearable, I can imagine myself wearing this,’”
Czech Republic ambassador H.E. Hynek Kmoníček and Czech designer Iva Pfeiffer at a fashion show previewing Pieffer's latest collection, Translations, on Sept. 12. (Photo: Embassy of the Czech Republic)
Pfeiffer said the best comments she got after the fashion show were from people who praised the pieces for their wearability, which she focused on when designing the collection.
She collaborated with fellow Czech designer, Petra Valentova, on this collection. She met Valentova while she was displaying her work in New York. The two had similar aesthetic styles, Pfeiffer said.
“I’m very much inspired by travelling,” She said, describing what inspired the Translations collection. “This time, I was inspired by India, the block print and [the color] indigo. We have the indigo dye in the Czech Republic as well. I find it sort of intuitive in a way because I grew up with the blue print.”
Each of Pfeiffer’s pieces are unique. They are all made by hand and in small runs which she said allows her to have more control on the creative side even though it is not the easier approach to making fashion. She never makes the same garment twice.
Iva Pfieffer's latest collection is made with fabrics hand-printed and hand-dyed in India. The designer travelled to India to meet her suppliers personally. (Photo: Embassy of the Czech Republic)
“I really like haute couture,” She said. “But I really like to find the balance between haute couture and ready to wear. The wearable art can be worn in everyday life so we can have the luxury of a hand-embroidered top and it can be worn as a cocktail dress or as a shirt to wear to the office.”
The pieces she displayed at the fashion show were still haute couture, she said. Each of the pieces were all hand-stitched, hand-embroidered and hand-dyed, but were all designed to still be wearable.
Pfeiffer’s designs have been featured in British Vogue and the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in 2016. Her collection titled Revolution, Adaptation, Resolution focused on the plight of refugees. It was followed by her Resort Collection which was inspired by 1920’s Orientalism and Korean traditional patchwork.
“The textile industry is very competitive,” She said. “So I feel that I’ve been given a big honor and it’s a great way for me to display my portfolio and my profile. I appreciate it very much so.”
(From left) Ambassador's wife Indira Gumarova, Cultural Attaché Šárka Ponroy Vamberová, Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček, Czech Fashion Designer Iva Pfeiffer and her Assistant Brand Manager Sheena Rochiramani at a fashion show previewing Pfeiffer's latest collection. (Photo: Embassy of the Czech Republic)
She started her career by studying tailoring in the Czech Republic because her parents owned a textile business they wanted her to take over. Her mother was a tailor. Pfeiffer said she originally did not want to go into her parent’s business and instead wanted to be a nurse.
She went to Australia to study English and practiced as a nurse while she was there. Pfeiffer moved to Japan with her husband and While in Japan, she studied the art of kimono making with a sensei. She learned about traditions of hand-stitching and arts. This led her to decide she wanted to become a fashion designer.
“That was the eye-opening moment for me,” She said. “That’s when I decided to study design after I moved to Australia.”
She graduated from the Raffles College of Design in Sydney, Australia and was one of 15 designers who were choses to attend a Master Class at the Arts of Fashion Foundation in Paris in 2014.
Pfeiffer is the youngest member of the Lace Guild in Sydney, Australia and is a member of the Victorian Felt Makers Guild. Pfeiffer’s label, Iva Pfeiffer Creations, is based out of Melbourne, Australia and focuses on making customized, special event womenswear.
She said she only uses natural fibers in her designs and works to make sure they are as environmentally friendly and socially responsible as possible. She spent time in the Bagru region of India meeting people along her supply chain.
Czech Republic ambassador Hynek Kmonícek and his wife host the fashion preview at their private residence on Sept. 12. (Photo: Embassy of the Czech Republic)
Her summer fabrics come from India and her winter fabrics have been sourced from Italy. She does her own research into the places her fabrics come from.
The Moravian blueprint design, which influenced Pfeiffer’s fall collection, was submitted for possible inscription into the United Nation’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2018.
The private fashion show was a prelude to the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2017 – Gregor Mendel. The festival is an initiative led by the Embassy of the Czech Republic and focuses on inspirations between Czech and American cultures.
Each year the festival recognizes the inspirational work of a Czech who has influenced or inspired others. This year’s focus will be on Gregor Mendel who was posthumously named the founder of the modern study of genetics. His experiments with pea plants established many of the rules of hereditary.
© The Washington Diplomat-Diplomatic Pouch. Carrie Snurr is an editorial intern for The Washington Diplomat.