DASH talks to Petra Ptackova about her personal approach to the world, and what it truly feels like to be locked away in her universe. Confrontation with the outside world is sometimes inevitable, and one thing you must know about Petra is that she loves telling stories. So let us tell you this one….
Tell us about your latest collection ‘Oh I see twice’ – what is behind the name?
I’ve learned that the best way to create something real is to base it on your own experience and on what your personal approach to the world is. When I’m locked away in my universe, it truly feels real. But confrontation with the outside world is sometimes inevitable. One thing you must know about me is that I love telling stories, so let me tell you this one… Back in September a girl was cycling, heading down the rue de Belleville in Paris. Out of nowhere, she encountered a car. A car that would change her future, her approach to the world, and the person she is today. In that moment she crashed into the car. Her vision went completely black. The only sound she could hear was the buzzing in her head, only to then realise how badly she had actually hit her eye. Something was wrong. The girl couldn’t focus or see anything clearly. Her vision had doubled. As a stuntwoman, she had always been into sports, fighting for her truth, and for her universe. But this time, the battle was happening inside herself. Her body had to fight for life, and for the power to recover. Remarkably, the girl learned how to transform this newfound weakness into an advantage. Literally seeing the world in a new dimension. Her broken sight brought her a new point of view on the world around her. Finally, after surviving the emotional toll this took on her, she started enjoying life again. She finally found the way to connect her universe with the real world.
The collection describes a long journey, from the depressive darkness, to finding a way back to normal life; to the stage when the girl – me – finally finds a new self. The weakness had made her surprisingly stronger, and more positive than ever before. The garments – especially the handcrafted hat pieces represent a dreary stage with the legacy of World War II, one of the darkest times of our history. The middle part of the collection reflects the confusion and the need to find a way out, like a painting with its colours flowing out of the frame… The whole world is shaking. The final part of the collection represents the new way, new life, new beginnings.
The designs in your previous collections are somewhat reminiscent of the powerful idea of the cosmos – do you ever look to the stars for inspiration?
I always do. look up at the sky, day, night… It’s a bottomless source of inspiration. Always, when I try to take a picture, I realise how unbelievably powerful it is. No chance to catch it in the picture. There are so many layers and levels and all the space is like that never-ending spirit of freedom. That’s my inspiration for living… No boundaries!
What is your favourite material to work with?
Natural materials, definitely. Nowadays we can get such amazing structured fabrics with natural origin, but with an interesting coating and many modifications. Even more, I like to develop fabrics myself… knitting, dyeing, printing, painting or any kind of applications such as embroidery… I need to be behind the whole process from the very first step, and developing the fabric is part of it!
Rough or Smooth?
I love stiff spacious fabrics and rough endings, but sometimes I fall in love with a completely smooth fabric and I can make compromises just to be able to add it to my collection. My A/W15 collection is full of contrasts… Or sometimes fabric that was originally very smooth got a new look by becoming stiff and rough.
Where are you currently based? Do you get inspired by city structures or rather natural landscapes?
Mother nature is just stunning and so perfect, no need for any make-up or face lift. It’s rough but smooth at the same time, but in a perfectly balanced way! The love of my life. But still, I’m a kid who’s grown up on the periphery of the city, where the city structure becomes even rougher and you see how nature is unsightly disturbed by ugly grey high-rise blocks. However, after all, even this can be inspiring. I still draw a lot from my childhood so it affects my work. I usually take some details of the reality around me and bring it back into my inner universe where I create a story, my own landscape.
Sneakers, high heels or bare feet?
As a person doing capoeira for almost ten years, I definitely love being barefoot and whatever makes us feel closer to the power of the planet. But as I live in a city, most of the time I’m fine with some simple sneakers or running shoes so I can run after and catch my bus when I’m late.
If there were no borders and limitations, what would your dream collection look like?
It would be so comfortable that you don’t notice you’re actually having something on, but it would fit the body at the same time. It would be changing colours according to your mood and transformable in so many ways that you can just travel with two basic garments which you can totally change into another mood, style or colour. It would be just a total illusion of what one garment can do. It seems like a pretty sustainable idea. Even though it sounds very futuristic, the collection would still be based on traditional manufacturing and respecting old techniques but using them in a very new way. All made with love and passion, so once the wearer puts it on and experiences it, he won’t give it away.
Interview: Adam Csoka Keller