Going Hell for Leather (Demo)

By Anda Ene

OZB spoke with Luoana Virjoghe, Romanian designer of fabulous leather clothing. Luoana talks about working with leather, about being inspired and what it takes to carry off wearing her art.

1. Luoana, why do you do, what you do? How was your way from fine art and sculpture, to fashion designer? How do you come to chose to design and work with leather?

I’ve read something lately and though it might sound like a cliché, I think it is my new motto in life: “Make art to express, not to impress”. I was born creative and my creativity never stops. I wanted to be a sculptor because when I was young I thought sculptors made really grandiose art. I always dreamt of creating something big and special and I considered sculpture the best way to do this. This influenced the way I design my collections they have sculptural lines and shapes, and they reflect my formative years in this art. Leather caught my attention, because it is very versatile. It might be a very rough material but it’s also very delicate, soft, amazing to touch. I am kinesthetic, so I am inspired by the touch and the texture of leather, it gives me that shivering feeling…

2. What you find most inspiring around you and where do you look for inspiration? And then, how do you put that inspiration to work, how do you make things concrete?

I find my inspiration usually in small daily details that I notice here and there. In the city, this can be a building on the streets, a persona, a flower or an emotion. Scrolling through the internet, I love to research other artists  – painters, sculptures and graphic designers – and find out how they put their ideas into practice. Usually, my attention is drawn by a single, small detail from their body of work, this can be a shape, a curved line, a texture or even just a particular mix of colours… I never know what can be until I see it. And then the magic happens, I take that detail, reinterpret it and create my own design.

Another source of inspiration is the material itself. I work generally with silk and leather. I love the transparency of the organza (silk) and the fact that the material allows itself to be shaped in different ways. The shimmering appearance of silk makes it more interesting especially when combined with leather. I love the contrasts: transparent sheer-dense, soft-tough and so on.

3. When you design you objects, do you have in mind a certain allure, a Persona?

When I start to think of the product, I want to make it real but often I don’t know exactly what the end result is going to be, in terms of the final cut. During the process of fabrication, the product might undergo a lot of changes from the initial concept that first appeared in my mind. I keep changing while creating, because what I want to obtain has to be unique and feminine and, at the same time, wearable. I don’t have a persona in my mind, a muse… I am more into the emotions that trigger my designs.

4. Your collections have the power to amaze, your clothes are made for bold and confident women. In few words, what story are you telling us?

   The clothes I design are indeed bold and I would add, they are statement clothes. They are made for a confident woman, a woman who has the attitude of the conqueror, but who is also sensible and cultivated enough to wear a piece of art and still look natural doing it.

5. 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 would you choose to take it with you?

It is hard to only pick 3 objects… but for sure my first choice would be a piece of Romanian traditional clothing, especially a Romanian blouse vintage or new piece. Before leaving, I would make sure the visited the whole of Romania for the incredible sights, the amazing well-preserved traditions and the lovely energy. So my other pick would be gathering lots of memories from this beautiful country!

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