Craft, structure, quality – those are the words which could be used to describe Gosia Baczyńska’s work since her debut. She is an artist among fashion designers.
At the end of 2016 fashion critic Michał Zaczyński wrote about her on his blog:
The year in which Gosia Baczyńska won’t release a collection will be the year without fashion in Poland. Well, almost. Gosia’s most recent proposal, invoking the first one shown during the Fashion Week in Paris, is once again a display of craft, precision and a sense of beauty unattainable by other native creators.
Gosia Baczyńska (born in 1965 in Kępno, lives and works in Warsaw) has been designing fashion since 1997. At that time, after graduating from the Faculty of Ceramics at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław, she established Fri 13.08 brand (the name comes from her birth date). Baczyńska spoke about the beginnings of her career in Anna Luboń’s book Mistrzynie (‘Mistresses’):
I had a mission! Everything was ugly and I felt that I know how it should look like. I lived in London for a year and a half and the experience opened my mind. Naturally, my passion didn’t come from nowhere. Even in the middle of the communist regime I encountered good quality designs. I was well-educated in a sense. One uncle, a tailor, worked in Wólczanka at the time – blouses, shirts, me and my sister had everything. They were clothes designed for Western brands. Another uncle worked for Próchnik so I had great trench coats. In high school, in the 1980s, I wore the same dust-coat as Kora in the Luciola music video. […] I learned about the quality of materials and seams on the example of those clothes. It was my first learning experience.
For four years she worked in Wrocław and organised her first show there. In 2001 she moved to Warsaw. Marzena Wilkanowicz-Devoud, the head editor of the Polish edition of Elle at the time, spoke of that time in the Viva!Moda magazine:
It was an era of trailblazing and we all ended up in roles into which, in the big world, one would have to grow over the course of many years. We were connected by energy, determination and ambition to show the world what we are capable of. At last history gave us a chance.
It was also a time when the negotiations on the matter of Poland’s inclusion into the European Union were at their end. Wilkanowicz organised a showcase of Polish designers in Belweder palace in Warsaw on this occasion. She invited Baczyńska and ordered a dress by her for herself. Wilkanowicz-Devoud reminisced:
I was a bit afraid, but I said that I have hope for a discreet Polish accent. She caught on right away and designed a beautiful asymmetrical velour 1950s-style dress. One shoulder-strap was made of red-and-white beading. It was a nod to the people who were in on the idea. I still have it in my cloakroom.
Back then it was already clear what Gosia Baczyńska finds important in fashions: quality of fabric, refined structure and craft. She draw on retro to create modern styles. This is how she described her style in a Fashion Magazine interview with Michał Zaczyński:
I enduringly explore classical pre-war fashion. In it, I search for inspiration and solutions, but I’m happy that I’m not associated with the retro style. It means that I translate it well into the present day. So on one hand, I like the vibes that are reminiscent of old photographs, and on the other I’m fond of breaching, perplexity, austerity, flippancy and a bit of perversion. This is my approach to fashion. I like feisty.
Celebrities started to wear her dresses and she soon entered the first league of designers shaping the Polish fashion market. The showcases became her calling card – always theatrical and polished up down to every detail. Cooperation with the sponsors was very important. During her first years in Warsaw, she was Remy Martin Fine Champagne Cognac’s ambassador. Thanks to Lexus’ support in 2005 and 2006, world-famous models took part in her showcases: Liz Jagger, Alek Wek and Helena Christensen.
Her 2011 LG-sponsored show Grand Menage went down in history. A washing machine had to be incorporated into it – it was a big challenge for the artist. She took inspiration from Zbigniew Rybczyński’s film Tango when creating the story and asked Jarosław Stańska, Krystian Lupa’s collaborator, for help in creating choreography. She chose a backyard of Warsaw’s Praga district as the scenery. Karolina Sulej described the show in the book Modni as follows:
As in Rybczyński’s film, everything begins with a ball bounced around by a boy. Then more characters appear on the courtyard-catwalk. […] Their clothes were inspired by Poland’s communist regime era, mostly by the 1960s. And so we have hairdos as fluffy as cotton candy and swathed in headscarfs, pellucid coats, dresses resemblant of student uniforms and mini skirts. […] The catwalk gets more and more crowded and everyone performs their choreography without a box. In one moment Gosia herself enters the stage – she stars as the Grandma from Tango and lays in bed on the catafalque. In the end, she gets up however, takes the ball that started the show and goes backstage.
The LG show took place shortly after the opening of the designer’s atelier on Floriańska street in Warsaw’s Praga district (2009). This is how the Praga courtyard came to be. Baczyńska wanted to stress the point that she planned to integrate with the district.
Since 2013, she has been presenting her collections during the Fashion Week in Paris. Four times – with the Spring-Summer 2014 (I Feel Love), Autumn-Winter 2014/2015, Spring-Summer 2015 and the Autumn-Winter 2015/2016 (Frankenstein’s Dream) – she made an appearance during the Paris Fashion Week’s official calendar as the only Polish fashion designer so far. Lately she has been organising showroom shows.
She held the Back to the Future collection’s show for the 2016/2017 season on a manoeuvrer plaza and once again showed that she infallibly reconciles contrasts – classical fabrics (wool, lace, silk) and modern, geometric cuts with sequins and frills. She also translates simple designs from the 1960s and the expressive ones from 1970s into present day. This collection’s themes became part of the dress worn by duchess Kate Middleton during her visit in Warsaw in July 2017.
Originally written by Aleksandra Boćkowska, Dec 2017, translated by Patryk Grabowski, Dec 2017