For the past two years, Ada has been collecting photographic evidence of the worst style crimes on the nation’s streets and documenting them on her blog, Módní peklo (aka Fashion Hell) — complete with droll critiques in which she pulls no punches.
Módní peklo has earned a mass following: the site has tens of thousands of hits daily and each post attracts hundreds of comments. Ada (not her real name) has become something of a media phenomenon: she’s been featured in numerous magazines such as Ona Dnes, Respekt and Instinkt and has even appeared in a TV documentary.
Now Expats.cz have dared to ask this delightfully entertaining self-appointed style guru everything you ever wanted to know about Czech style but were afraid to ask…
Is it possible to identify the main typical Czech fashion crimes?
Socks with sandals, or disgusting feet with sandals. Baggy unwashed jeans. Jeans, jeans, blue jeans baby for you every single time.
Czechs also don’t know how to dress for the occasion, be it job interview, wedding, opera, a date, or dinner. Czech women often try to be sexy and overdo it. It looks vulgar, or worse, pathetic. Czech men can be like teenagers, as in “I will wear this worn-out sweatshirt no matter what mommy/anyone says“. I think the umbrella crime out of all of these might be the general contempt for fashion. Occupying yourself with what you wear is seen as shallow and is frowned upon.
Do you think Czech women are better dressed generally than Czech men?
Yes. Women want to dress nicely. Most men don’t.
How did you get the idea for the blog? How long has it been going?
The idea was born in the streets. Literally. I love writing, and one day as I was walking somewhere and idly looking around, it occurred to me I could write about what we wear.
Which have been your most popular posts so far?
One of the most discussed posts is Svatební devatero (“Nine Commandments for Brides”). I tore to pieces the most irritating wedding style crimes like borrowing a dress made of kilometers of cheap satin, long-pointed shoes and overdone curly hairstyles. Many readers, especially brides, took this to be a sacrilege. Also popular are the posts about Czech designers — Josef Klír, Marie Zelená, or local designers Brigita Ročňáková and Blanka Kaksová — who were not happy about the critique, to say the least. Some of them even threatened to sue me (so far no one actually has).
If it’s true that the Czechs are a particularly poorly dressed nation, what are the reasons? Explanations I’ve heard include that they’re less superficial, there’s a poor choice of shops here and that Czechs simply have less money…
Less superficial, maybe, but I tend to think it’s the other way round, as I said above. The fear of superficiality itself turned into superficiality; some people take great care to dress to look like they don’t care at all how they look!
Poor choice of shops? I still remember communism – buying nice clothes then was mission impossible, yet people managed. Now there’s a gazillion different shops, and people still whinge that they can’t buy anything they like.
Less money, yes. Not anyone can chuck away thousands on fashion every month. But then again, there are so many second-hand shops, internet auctions, a good sewing machine can also be bought pretty cheaply… You can always manage, if you know how to use your brain.
Do you think that more style crimes are committed by people living in small towns?
I would say Praguers are more courageous. The anonymity of a big city frees you. People from the small towns are more afraid of what their neighbours would say, of envy and gossip.
What about the style crimes of foreigners? Do Brits and Americans have any right to look down on their Czech cousins’ lack of taste?
From what I saw at People of Walmart.com, American fashion crimes can be much worse than ours! And when I criticize the handmade junk from Fler.cz (tie-dyed tunics, crocheted bikinis etc), I always think about Etsy.com (and Regretsy.com).
I have heard it suggested that it would be impossible to have a Czech Sex in the City because unlike in other countries, women here give up taking care of themselves once they get to 40. What do you think?
Sadly, I have to agree. Not all, but still too many women stop caring for themselves as they get older. Some do it when they marry and give birth to their first child, some wait till 40 or 50.They chop their hair off, get fat and switch to the most comfortable clothes they can find, usually bootcut or cropped jeans, loose T-shirts, sneakers and outdoor jackets. They probably think: “I’m married, I have children, I don’t need to be attractive anymore. And taking care of the family is too time consuming to waste time with fashion.“
You say that Czechs are afraid to take risks with fashion and don’t like to stand out in the crowd. Why do you think that is? Can we blame it on the legacy of Communism?
Maybe we should blame it on capitalism instead — the commercials, the magazines, the images of celebrities are telling us what to wear. Either your mind is free and cannot be ruled by any ideology, or it is not and just follows what it sees as an authority, be it Communism, Vogue, mommy or the classmates dressed in brands.
How would you describe your own sense of style? What are you wearing right now?
Right now yoga pants and a T-shirt, because that’s my favorite homewear. When I go outside, I prefer brightly colored pants (emerald green, fuchsia, royal blue, naples yellow, to name some of my favorites), a matching top, and on that I throw a wrap or pashmina or a jacket. I wore dresses in summer, but the weather now sadly calls for warmer clothes. But I also like dresses with long sleeves and colored opaque tights, which can be worn in autumn and winter. I like grab bags, earrings, scarves and nice shoes.
Do you have any particular favourite Czech designers? What about well dressed Czech celebrities – do young Czech women have any decent native role models?
As far as role models are concerned, no — at least not decent ones. Browse Super.cz, the leading internet tabloid, and what you see? Girls from the Miss Pageants, second-rate models (the first-rate ones go abroad), starlets from musicals and TV shows, and the wives of famous men. “Sexy” dresses, Vuittons, fake tans, boobs, even crotches. TV Nova newsreaders show off their racks and heavily made up faces every night to the whole nation. I’m afraid the role models for Czech women are rather cheap.
As for the designers, I like Klára Nademlýnská, Ivana Mentlová, Zdeňka Imreczeová and Jakub Polanka. I also like the Pietro Filipi brand.
What’s the number one Czech fashion crime of all time?
Not taking care of oneself.