1st image: Boy on location styling knit; 2nd image Girl on location
lower left: Anna LED F/W 2010; upper right: Latvian mittens; lower right: Dzintra Ozoles, designer, detail of pullover
Latvian folk culture revers Laima, the goddess who protects women at childbirth, often unbraiding her hair to ease parturition. Women traditionally made offerings of mittens, gloves or a garter of colored wool to Laima prior to childbirth or upon birth and her cult coexisted with Christianity for centuries. A bride is admonished to give gifts, “no matter if it’s dear” to ease the pain of future childbirth.
Today, knitwear in Latvia transcends the mittens ecomodista traditionally associated with this region. Anna Ledskalnina, a brilliant designer whose eponymous boutique is located in a lux Riga neighborhood experiments with knits each season. She derives inspiration from Latvian culture, hand knit lace shawls, and the medieval Vecriga or old city of Riga, empathizing with the archaic, worn and corroded. Ledskalnina studied at the St. Petersberg Academy of Textile and Design, before forming her company in 2000. Incorporating hand knit lace, normally associated with elderly ladies, into her sophisticated vocabulary, she created new shapes for her F/W 2009 collection, embodying 21st century design. see: http://www.annaled.com/ Technically, her garments are exquisitely tailored and are carefully produced. ecomodista definitely coveted Led jackets and dresses, usually worn by Latvian intelligencia and state department officials.
Thanks to the professionalism of stylists Deniss Ševeļovs and his partner Maija, the models, and make up stylist, our Riga shoot was fabulous. We used the romantic buildings in the old city and the dramatic new bridge over the Daugava River as backdrops. Deniss and Maija also translated Russian and Latvian for us. ecomodista is totally hyped by Riga, not only by the quality of design, models, and support, but where else can one leave her Jil Sander handbag in a taxi and retrieve it intact an hour later?
Deniss and Maija's blog http://stuff-n-style.blogspot.com/ tracks fashion in Riga. Girl/Maija and Boy/Deniss comment on catwalks during Riga's Fashion Week, parties, the arts, and product launches. Their upbeat blog flogs the best of Latvian design. Their critiques are especially important, promoting sustainability, by encouraging large conglomerates such as Stockman's (a department store chain in the Baltic states) to feature local designers and products. Mikhail Plishti a Russian who grew up during the Soviet era, has pointed out that Riga was a culturally sophisticated city where tourists from Eastern Europe and Russia could find the most au courant fashion. In this context, it's not surprising that so many Latvian designers continue to be utterly unique instead of taking their cues from Milan and Paris. How refreshing!
carla breeze copyright 2011