Recognizable elements of traditional Rromani clothing combined with modern design and fabrics represent the main features of the clothes and accessories of the Romani Design fashion brand. Their collections were presented all over the world, for example at the Marie Claire Fashion Week in Paris, at catwalks in New Delhi, organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Hungary in India, in the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, India, during Vienna Fashion Week in Austria and at numerous other cultural-fashion events. In this way, with their specific cultural expression, they promoted Rromani culture as part of Hungary’s diverse cultural heritage.
Romani Design fashion studio was founded in 2009 with the desire to, inter alia, help breaking stereotypes and prejudices about the Rroma, to familiarize the wider audience with the aesthetic roots of Rromani communities through modern interpretation of Rromani folklore, at the same time promoting Rromani women’s employment and youth activism. Therefore, even today organization of educational programs and workshops is a significant part of their work.
“Our mission is to be present in all aspects of society in order to reduce social conflicts and prejudices towards the Rroma. Although it is easy to admire the Rromani fashion, very few have understood the culture behind it. Our goal is to bridge the gap between admiration for garments and understanding of Rromani culture through fashion”, said Erika Varga, who together with her sister Helena Varga is the founder of the brand.
For years before the foundation of the brand, the sisters taught children and young people about Rromani art, crafts and culture. Their family cultivated the tradition of dressing as a way of expressing their own identity, and they also made jewellery. They wanted to find a way for the Rroma to talk about themselves because it was mostly non-Rroma people who talked about them in public and other media almost always in a stereotypical way related to poverty, backwardness, or crime.
“Fashion, to me, represents what words represent to a writer, or colours to a painter. Through clothes I design I express my identity and create a world in which I enjoy life“, Erika Varga describes her work.
Dresses and other garments are complemented by the handbags and accessories designed by Helena. “Fashion accessories in an authentic way express forms that are part of the Rromani tradition. I like to combine different materials, leather and textiles. I love cashmere and silk with embroidery of interwoven branches of red roses and other vibrant colors of flowers“, Helena Varga describes her design work.
The new Spring / Summer 2019 Collection brings a stylized Rromani – English Rebel Spirit. The designers have long wanted to pay tribute to female icons in their family and transfer their portraits to clothing and fashion accessories. The idea was to show the power of the Rromani women and send a message that the Rromani women, despite stereotypes are ready to respond to the challenges. For example, Erika and Helena’s mother was a successful business woman. Helena made a pattern of traditional Rromani fabrics that resembles church stained glass windows symbolizing faith, and then, using digital textile printing, printed archival portraits of their mother and grandmother on it. These patterns designed the street fashion collection using contemporary cuts mixed with forms inspired by Frida Kahlo.
This Mexican painter and woman in general, is an inexhaustible source of inspiration to Romani Design couturiers. They explain this using the Rromani philosophy according to which every woman holds the secret to beauty, and clothing is one of the ways she can express her worldviews and principles.
Many famous people, especially in Hungary, such as singer Gabi Tóth, actresses Eszter Ónodi and Gabriella Hámori or singer Gergő Oláh, have found their fashion style in the clothes of the Romani Design fashion boutique. In this way, through fashion, the awareness of the rich cultural heritage of Rromani traditional clothing has been spread by Romani Design, who, in a creative way, adopted it to modern fashion scene.