If you were to only buy one thing this year, invest your money into a leather jacket, says prominent Czech designer Ivana Mentlová, a distinctive lady that's been rocking the Czech fashion scene for a few years now. Her collections are unique and the main role in them is played mostly by perfect leatherwork. We met at MBPFW, which she attended this year only as a spectator. How will her models look this year and which brands is she collaborating with? She reveals that and much more in an interview with Luxury Prague Life.
What's the most difficult aspect of creating a collection?
For me it's the whole production in general. Designs and coming up with collections is only the beginning, what's the hardest is nailing the details of each model exactly the way you imagined it.
Describe your latest collection to us. What should we look forward to?
Entering the market in Spring will be Silverline, my premium line for Pietro Filipi, a leather collection for Kara Trutnov, and my IAM collection.
I used natural materials in tones of beige, grey, brown, black and khaki. In the Kara and Pietro Filipi collections you can feel the 90's influence and the inspiration by the rock music scene and men's fashion. For Kara I also made four models of men's jackets for the first time, made out of light leather with vintage patina.
My IAM collection contains a range of neutral colors combined with neon yellow, emerald green and also cheetah print. You can look forward to a few leather jackets in an "oversized" cut, coats, skirts, high-waist pants and leather and suede jumpsuits.
Can you still remember your first design?
Probably not the very first one, but I do remember a design of a blouse with an application that I won some kind of regional competition with in the 5th grade.
Do you sometimes look back at your older collections and dust off a piece to reuse?
I have some models in my collection that I keep using throughout a few seasons in different variations - as it is customary with big brands in the world. I like reusing some elements and cuts, thanks to which people recognize my work.
What kind of materials do you like using the most these days? Is leather still in the lead?
For my brand IAM it's still leather and lambskin, in the Silverline collection for Pietro Filipi it's mostly natural materials as well, or their blends - wool, cotton, silk and flax.
Are there some kind of dead giveaways thanks to which your pieces can be recognized in the streets with absolute certainty?
My style hasn't really evolved throughout the past 15 years, I have my trademark style and most of my clients will recognize my work. Maybe it's specifically my use of materials that are typical for me. Nonetheless, it's always minimalistic timeless cuts in neutral colors. I don't do bold patterns, save for animal prints.
You presented your first children's collection for Fall/Winter 2017. What spurred its creation? Do you continue making children's fashion?
The birth of my daughter, of course. When the lambskin collection went on sale, she was two years old. We only make children's coats to order, they're reversible and the cut is made to "grow" with the kids, so it lasts several seasons.
What do you think about the way children dress these days?
I have to admit, I don't really keep up with it, I mostly shop for my daughter online. There are many brilliant and quality children's brands with good prices, there's a lot to choose from.
In your limited editions you dress women in leather and fur, two years ago you dressed children in those as well. I assume that you don't share the opinions of activists against wearing real fur. What is your stance on wearing real fur and fur coats?
My children's collection was made out of lambskin, not fur. I only use certified materials from European farms, when it comes to fur I only use mink. The others, such as fox fur, I haven't been using for several years now, for ethical reasons.
We hear a lot lately about using products made out of plastics, governments are trying to limit their use. That may be why I don't get the opposite trend in fashion. "Noplastic" should hold true there too. Using natural materials is more eco-friendly.
Do you feel that fashion is different now from what it used to be? Try and comment on the shift in the style of world designers and high fashion brands...
Contemporary fashion is much more consumerist, brands push out several collections a season, their style is often interchangeable and differences become blurred. I feel like "street style" is in the lead and fashion is business above all.
Do you have an idol among foreign designers?
Coco Chanel, YSL, Vivienne Westwood or the ingenious Martin Margiela.
Why are you not participating in Prague Fashion Week this year?
I work for several companies, have a young daughter and a family. There's no time.
Will you participate at least as a spectator? Alternatively, what are you looking forward to the most?
Of course, I love the work of Jakub Polanka or Jan Černý. I'm also looking forward to the Pietro Filipi show this year, although my premium line is still in production, so Silverline won't be there, unfortunately. But I'll enjoy it all the more as a spectator.
No show of your own in the works?
Not for the time being.
What pieces does your wardrobe consist of? Do you wear your own designs often?
I usually wear pants, jeans, jackets, T-shirts, a wool or leather coat. Ankle boots without heels, too. I like jumpsuits, long airy dresses in summer and strap sandals. I'm very particular about quality purses, sunglasses and headwear. I mostly wear my stuff. And what I like wearing reflects in my work. I want women to feel free and comfortable, so I "test" everything on myself.
Do you prefer local production, or buy foreign pieces more often? Do you also venture into stores of, let's say "ordinary" big and cheaper chains, such as H&M, Mango or Zara?
I wear my own stuff and I usually only shop for accessories - shoes, purses or jeans and knits, which I don't make myself. I usually shop at the Space multibrand store, where I have my own IAM corner, but most often online, and those are foreign goods, usually. I don't have time for shopping in shopping centres.
Did any foreign star take a liking to your models?
(laugh) The top models Karolína Kurková and Daniela Peštová wore my models a few times.
If I were to buy only one piece from you, what would it be?
A leather jacket or a pantsuit at PF.