OZB spoke with fashion designer Adrian Oianu who is in love with and in awe of the traditional Romanian costumes and is recreating them in his craft.
By Anda Ene
Adrian Oianu, you are a well known brand, a highly recognized and praised designer. How is it to be a fashion designer in Romania?
Being a designer in Romania? An adventure, considering the fact that I’ve chosen from the very start not to follow the trends. Unlike what we see in magazines, the fashion business is less glamour and more work. But it definitely pays off and I love every single part of it.
Over the years, you’ve always had a constant and ardent relationship with your cultural roots, all your collections have this red thread in their DNA. Did the inspiration come from tradition, did it find you or you found it? How was the meeting and when?
The relationship with my ethnic roots wasn’t always the same.
I recall living in LA, California and assuming that someday, when I’ll have children of my own and they will ask where I come from, I will vaguely say that I am from Central Europe.
That’s where the “meeting” took place–I was living across the Ocean and was successfully blending in. Until I realized what I really wanted was to stand out. Moreover, I wanted to BELONG.
I started by re-establishing contact with my ethnic and cultural background, contact that had faded through the years I spent abroad.
At the moment, I am helping others to do the exact same: to reestablish their connections with their own roots.
You reinterpreted in a very creative and surprising manner, the traditional Romanian blouse. Besides the star of the national costume repertoire, what other pieces from the national costumes, inspire you and can we find them in your collections?
The traditional apron (a.k.a. “fota”), the peasant’s winter coat, the short vest–“ilic”. There will certainly be more to come. And they all have one thing in common–every single item is a perfect day-to-day piece.
Your collections always have the power to amaze, to leave us open-mouthed, because your clothes seem to be created for another world, a world of magic, spectacular and pure. What story are you telling us? And on a more contemporary note, what is your brand philosophy?
I craft traditional-inspired clothes for contemporary wear. I believe in staying true to our culture and traditions and that’s pretty much everything about it. I think femininity is above all a weapon with which you can conquer even the unexpected and I like to think of my work as an ode to the feminine spirit.
Last but not least, I believe in sustainability and craftsmanship as opposed to mass production. There is a lot of meaning under the seemingly trendy saying “Buy local!”
Clientele is capricious and volatile, how do you manage to keep the interest of your customer, in this era of fast fashion? Have you created your own tribe?
While I don’t think of my customers as a tribe, I find a lot of crucial answers in the fact that the vast majority of them come back to us again & again…
More relevant, what has contributed to my consistency has been finding a niche of consumers–to which the mass-market doesn’t deliver accordingly–and catering to these consumers to this day. That is the story of my last decade.
If you were a foreigner visiting Romania or an expat who is just about to leave after a few years of living here, what are the 3 objects you would choose to take with you?
A seashell from the Black Sea, a bottle of locally produced wine and–most of all – a vintage Romanian Blouse.