Variations on a theme
Fashion designer Josefina Bakošová creates playful yet versatile pieces that are always elegant
Posted: September 14, 2011
Photos by Michaela Klakůrková Left: Sportswear becomes chic with magnetized jewelry in Bakošová's new line. Below left: Fashion takes on a bit of the theatrical in 2009 Levitation line. Right: Asymetrical cuts give sporty pieces a feminine touch. Opposite: Using contrasting fabric, such as knits with nylon material, is a signature CHI-CHI style.
Life, it is often said, imitates art. But in Josefina Bakošová's case, life imitates fashion.
As a fashion designer, illustrator, creative director, gallery owner and mother, her life is full of contrasting elements, but the 32-year-old keeps it simple by being flexible. And much like her life, her designs reflect the importance of versatility and contrast.
"I make clothes for women who want variation," Bakošová said of her women's wear line CHI-CHI. "The women who buy my designs want something simple and elegant that can be versatile with clothes they already have, but are still different than what they can find anywhere else."
Having multifunctional, versatile clothing was the inspiration behind Magnetize "Me," CHI-CHI's new line which is being showcased at the DesignBlok's Prague Design Days, an annual weeklong exhibition event showcasing premier designs. Bakošová said the line is based on the concept that combining both clothing and jewelry into one piece shows how you can use technical or functional materials and still create something elegant.
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"The magnetic jewelry can be worn in many different ways to change the look of the outfit," Bakošová said. "It can be a belt or a necklace, for instance, or it can be worn with something a woman already has in her own wardrobe. I've never seen this done before so I'm excited because it's very different than what's out there now for women."
With a simple color palette of black, white and gray, the jewelry is the main show stopper in the Magnetize "Me" line. The jewelry is made from gum-rope and fastened by a magnetic silver clasp resembling a coil, which was made by fellow Czech designer Michaela Gorcová. The unification of jewelry and design coupled with the use of both nylon and cotton fabrics is what Bakošová believes creates the line's unique, street-chic style - something that is original and unusual, yet practical.
Bakošová likes the juxtaposition of having both a sporty and elegant look in one piece. It is something she has been incorporating in all the CHI-CHI lines since its inception in 2008. In Magnetize "Me," she continues this contrast with the fabrics and cuts in each piece.
"A majority of my designs are cotton, I've always preferred the feel of it, but I also like nylon or parachute fabric because it looks more elegant to me. It can easily go from a day to night look," she said. "For a long time I thought I had to have bright colors in my designs to appeal to women, but I kept coming back to black and white. Just like with the jewelry in the collection, I thought if women want color, they can add it or take it away."
Bakošová is also giving variation with the unconventional cuts of some of the items in the line. One black, cotton piece appears at first glance to simply be a top, but when Bakošová gets her hands on it, she shows how it can transform from a halter, to an off-the-shoulder top, to a skirt and even a full dress.
"My clients are always telling me how much they appreciate the variation I give them in my clothes - in both fabrics and design," she said. "It's not just about having an item you can wear with other things - it's about having many different outfits out of one piece of clothing."
Just like her previous collections that have been featured at DesignBlok, such as her 2008 collaboration with designer Petra Krčková "Czech Woman in a Czech Forest" and her 2009 Levitation line, Magnetize "Me" will be exclusively featured at Bakošová's gallery store Hard-De-Core on Senovážné námesti, Prague 1.
Bakošová opened Hard-De-Core gallery back in 2006 as an almost safe haven for creative artists - not just in fashion, but jewelry, design and even stationary and books. Truly a labor of love for Bakošová, Hard-De-Core gallery was remodeled in 2010, giving the store a unique look with a signature pink floor, white walls and a black baby grand piano filled with sand showcasing jewelry. This experimental showroom has been luring crowds away from what Bakošová calls the more "commercial stores" on nearby Wenceslas Square and has become a favorite for not just curious tourists, but locals as well.
"I have a background in theater and puppet design, so I would always make more theatrical or unique clothing but had no place to show it, so I decided to open Hard-De-Core gallery, not just for my work, but for other talented artists, too," she said. "This was a truly unique concept in Prague when I opened it, but now there are more multifunctional stores with clothing, jewelry and art all together."
Bakošová's whimsical theatrical side can be seen in the artists she chooses to showcase in the gallery. Bakošová said her background in puppetry and costume design draws her to the unconventional. She currently has about 12 different designers, both local and foreign, at Hard-De-Core, and they all create exclusive items only to be sold at the gallery.
Some of Bakošová's favorite items at the store are the eccentrically designed clocks and cubist jewelry by Llev Design, a male and female design team; the butterfly wing jewelry by Gorcová, who created the clasps in the Magnetize "Me" line; porcelain designs by Daniel Piršč; and various jewelry by designers Lenka Malíská, Lucie Volková, Markéta Richterová, Klára Šípková, Lucie Houdková and Kateřina Řezáčová.
Whether in her own line, CHI-CHI, which can only be found at the gallery, or other other designer's works that are featured at Hard-De-Core, Bakošová continually sews the thread of elegance in everything she sells, creates or promotes. It is a reason, she feels, that her store and her clothing line casts such a wide net and attracts women of different walks of life that are just looking for something different. Whether a dress costing 3,000 Kč or designer earrings for 300 Kč, all designs featured are attainable.
"Everything in the store appeals to women," she said of Hard-De-Core. "We have customers who are in their 40s and want something for work that is elegant and unique, and we have students who want something funky that they know no one else will have. Unlike a lot of the new multidesign shops in Prague now, we offer the unexpected."
Megan Battista can be reached at