I should have posted this when we were still in Prague but the entry hadn’t gelled, it still hasn’t. Clothing design in the Czech republic was different in a difficult to define way. Much of this entry is pure conjecture, I’d be thrilled if some of you could correct, refine or guide some of the ideas I have about it.
First off, there are a lot of pretty girls there. Really. Why is that? I can’t tell you how many I saw on their way to work that if they played their cards right and lived in the U.S., the only thing they’d be doing that day would be shopping and spending their husband’s money. That’s the truth, sexist as it sounds.
The difference in Czech clothing design boils down to differing style lines. These were different from what I saw in Belgium, France and Germany. At first I thought it might be due to poverty. The Republic is relatively poor still, recovering from its legacy and their clothing isn’t homogenized (lack of homogeniety is a good thing in my opinion) and as such, they’re not slap happy importing “brands” from the former “west”. Second, perhaps they wear their clothing longer and pass them down. I think it’s actually both of these things coupled with a third influence -the provenance of vocational training. Specifically, have you ever seen run of the mill Russian sportswear, aka daily type apparel? It is different. Their style lines run in unique ways, not typically as it’s done in the west. I have saved some jpegs of some Russian styling but as I’m traveling and they’re on my work computer, I don’t have access to them. I really like the visual differences. We have a few Russian pattern makers who hang out around here, maybe they’ll have some ideas.
I only have a few photo samples; it’s hard to take photos of people without them noticing you and most of the people’s apparel I had the time to observe was on the tram and it’s too hard to take photos on a moving street car. I would have had to have my camera at the ready at all times and hope to pass unnoticed. A lot of people don’t want you taking their photos; they get ugly about it. Still, here’s two examples of pants I photographed while waiting for the tram. Shoe design was another thing that was unusual; I wish I had photos of those too.
In this first set (two photos, same pant), there is no real side seam. Note the seam that starts at the side waist and moves down and frontwards to the knee. That is a dart, not a seam! There seems to be a side seam further down the pant leg -and it is a side seam at the lower leg- but the beginning of that seam starts at the back hip. Interesting, no?
The second pants I photographed have a yoke at the side waist. Typically, we have yokes at CB or CF but yokes at the side seam are very unusual. If you look carefully in the second photo, the front side of the yoke opens for a pocket. This may be true of the back as well but it wasn’t evident on this cold rainy early evening in Prague.
Other oddities. Many men were wearing sport coats, even young men. A lot of men were wearing “car coats”. I don’t know if that’s the right word based on common usage but internally, a coat manufacturer describes a larger and longer outerwear version of a sport coat intended to be worn over everything else, a car coat. I’ve always loved the look of these; pattern and sewing wise, there’s little difference between these and frock coats. I should make Eric one.
My idea is that clothing production in the Czech Republic remains largely domestic (not importing styling) and as such, who’s making the patterns? I think it’s a safe bet that owing to the vocational and educational infrastructure of what was the Soviet Union, it’s likely that all training was done by Russian pattern makers or the work done by them directly.
It probably doesn’t really matter but it does create an impetus for me to look into the matter now because it is only a matter of time before this original thumb print and unique styling is lost as is surely inevitable as their economy improves and they can then import “name brands”. ~sigh~.
I plan to post some dreamy pattern puzzles I found in Berlin. I could have posted these already but I want to be home or at least have better internet access so I can participate more. Speaking of, we should be home on Thursday. Today we are in Amsterdam and planning to meet Els (the sewing diva) in another hour in front of the Anne Frank house.