Apparel designed by Ana Šekularac emits a special combination of sensuality and serious designer structure. Ana is, simply, one of those unbelievably talented fashion designers, whose success is unquestionable. Whether displayed in a prime spot at Harrods, in a tiny street in Dorćol, on Victoria Beckham, or somewhere, on some unknown woman of impeccable dress sense – it is impossible not to notice the clothes signed by Ana Šekularac. Perhaps because she truly loves her work, or because she is brutally intimate with every pore of European fashion that she is a part of, a conversation about fashion with Ana is always a treat. As she has been living and working in London for some time, her visit to Belgrade was an ideal opportunity to chat about the fashion season ahead of us, challenges she faces and the plans she is making, style paradoxes of major brands, but also the street fashion of Belgrade, still teeming with undiscovered treasures.
photo: Miša Obradović
When you are designing fashion, it truly looks like a real art process – you create a sculpture around the mannequin. And really, the “wow effect” comes easy to you, as if you were born to create it. What does all that look like to you?
It’s like some form of meditation. Whenever I tried to do something the way I envisaged it, while at the same time trying to make my work likeable to others, which lead me to add or subtract something, I was never pleased. It just doesn’t work that way. What I like best is when the pieces just happen instinctively, as if I was playing. Sometimes it goes easily, and sometimes I hate everything I design. This is why the process can sometimes be quite long.
How important is ostentatiousness, as a fashion imperative, at present? Suddenly, everyone wants to be the star of the evening. Is this a slippery slope if we are talking about good taste?
I think Haute Couture doesn’t have a problem with this issue, as much as Ready-to-Wear. I don’t see any experimentation in terms of new manufacturing methods or use of better techniques in western fashion. Japanese, on the other hand, are experimenting with this and are offering some innovations. I think that, within Ready-to-Wear, this emphasis on first impressions is quite aggressively imposed. It is important that things are unambiguous, that it is clear right away that this is Dior, or Channel, or Gucci. But it works. When Gucci releases something sparkly and recognizable, or when their designers say, “Ok, this season, the sixties are back”, people will buy and wear these things in hordes, even if there is no fashion philosophy behind them, or innovation in manufacture. It is probably important to them that, when they buy and wear a Gucci, others know that it is Gucci, for example. There is truth in these status symbols. It is the same all over the world.
When global stars, like Fergie or Victoria Beckham wore your dresses, was that a kind of a final seal of approval for your international success? Is there a moment in your career that you see as a turning point in that sense?
That’s a difficult question. Each new collection was a turning point for me, in terms of my creative journey. I think that there is this fine thread that connects all of my collections. From a financial stand point, it was different at the beginning, of course. A major turning point for me was the moment I established cooperation with the fashion chain Harrods, which lasted for five years. My pieces were brilliantly promoted through this cooperation and my sales figures were good.
Of course, when you are a freelancer, there’s ups and downs, but that’s just my way of life. It gives me this certain freedom that I love.
photo: Borko Savić
You like to say that your creations “should serve the woman”, never the other way round. How do you recognize a woman who can “subjugate” one of your pieces?
It is always them who recognized me. I’m lucky like that. The most important thing for me is that the woman feels good in her skin when she is wearing the clothes I designed. I am at my happiest when I get such a feedback. Women who wear these clothes are just that type of women. It is clear that they could wear anything, from the way they walk, the attitude they exude, the way they talk and combine things. You just see the woman and you know that there will never be a dress that wears her, she will be wearing any dress. That’s easy to see.
You are not a designer who blindly follows trends, you are rather someone who has been building her own visual identity for years. Still, in the myriad of trends for the autumn/winter 2017/2018, which ones do you personally like, and which do you think will be the end of us, like it (perhaps) was with the frills this summer?
Well, it all depends on who is wearing them and how. I really don’t follow trends in that way. There are a couple of designers whose work I like and keep up with. One of them, for example, is Yanosh Yamamoto, whom I love. In general, I would like to see our street fashion turn more to our home-grown authors, designers and items of clothing coming from small craft shops, of which there are many throughout Serbia. There are fantastic unique pieces to be found, at a bargain price. There is incredible potential there. You can literally imagine a pair of shoes or a hand bag and have someone make it for you.
What’s next in store for you? What do you think the autumn will look like in your studio?
I am finishing the collection for spring/summer 2018, and I am planning a trip to Paris. I am in Serbia now because I am preparing photos and videos for the new collection. I like to shoot my new collections in Serbia. So, now we are wrapping things up before Paris. Of course, I am also using this time to see my friends and breathe in as much of Belgrade as I can.
autor: Miljana Nešković