Photo: Hai Nguyen/harbin Fashion Week

I create stories that are far from the usual fashion conventions

Fashion designer Ana Krgović presented her unusual creations at Harbin Fashion Week in China, where she stood out thanks to her uniqueness.

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Photo: Hai Nguyen/harbin Fashion Week
Photo: Hai Nguyen/harbin Fashion Week
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

Instead of blindly following trends and what the market currently dictates like most designers, the Montenegrin designer Ana Krgović it is already recognized for its originality and authenticity. She is also environmentally conscious, so she tries to make her signature clothing long-lasting and adaptable to multiple seasonal trends. An environmentally responsible approach to creation is demonstrated by using materials that are either recycled or have the potential to be recycled, while the print is created with biodegradable inks. That's why her models are intended for women who appreciate art and understand the deeper meaning of fashion.

She recently presented her "Invisible Path" collection, which she worked on for years, at the Harbin Fashion Week in China, and she talks to Vijesti about her fashion experience and impressions from this event...

Ana Krgović
Ana Krgovićphoto: Private archive

You got the opportunity to present your collection, which you do under the brand name "Shift", at Fashion Week in China. Given that the story you told on the runway is very unusual and creative, what were the reactions and how did you get invited to this event?

On the way to Harbin Fashion Week in China, I went through a series of challenges and climbs, and each step was shaped by dedication, effort and perseverance. Ambition has always guided me, and this was not the first time I was invited to some important event. Even when I was a student, I applied to many competitions, faced rejections, but I knew that experience is the key to success. Despite the losses and challenges, I gained significant knowledge, supported by the courses, conditions and renowned professors at the faculties in Montenegro, Croatia and Poland. My commitment resulted in me becoming one of the 12 finalists at the international competition at Lodz Young Fashion, facing strong competition, but at the same time achieving significant success. Along the way, I attended numerous courses, not only in the field of fashion, but also in entrepreneurship, gaining various knowledge and building a wide range of skills. As a result of everything, I got a job in Zagreb, but I also returned to Montenegro, where I continued to build my career. Two years ago, I applied for Fashion Passport European, an event in Sarajevo that brings together designers from Europe with the aim of promoting them. There I realized the importance of connecting and networking, creating friendships and meeting colleagues from all over Europe. Through the European Fashion Passport, I had the opportunity to connect with Harbin Fashion Week as an ambassador for the event. The organizers sent applications for all applicants to China, where the creative director selected me as the best designer to represent at the tenth Harbin Fashion Week.

Ana Krgović
photo: Hai Nguyen/harbin Fashion Week

The reactions to my recent performance at Harbin Fashion Week were exceptional. Along the way, I regularly shared stories on Instagram and updated my followers on my progress. I received a huge number of messages, invitations and congratulations from friends, colleagues, and people who follow my work. Their support and enthusiasm was inspiring and motivating, creating a sense of community and joy during my stay at Harbin Fashion Week. This support was extremely important to me and further enriched the experience I had at this prestigious event. For creators like me, support is key. It is important to have people around us who believe in our talent and enthusiasm, because this makes the path of artistic expression even richer and more meaningful.

Montenegrin fashion designers usually play it safe, and their creations are wearable - whether it's everyday fashion or evening dresses. Through your fashion brand, you build a completely different story. This is precisely what reminds us of haute couture, and it always gives a greater dose of creativity, but it is certainly much more daring to deal with it than usual. How much do you hold yourself back in that creativity? Are the materials you use holding you back, because not all of them can be shaped the way we imagine?

In my fashion brand, I have always strived to go outside the box and create unique, creative pieces of clothing. I believe that fashion gives designers the freedom to explore and express their originality in a way that may not always be possible in everyday collections or evening gowns. Of course, with such freedom comes a certain amount of challenges. I also challenge myself in terms of creativity, introducing new elements, techniques and concepts into my creations. Sometimes I am faced with material limitations, but I see this as an additional incentive to find innovative solutions. Materials are, of course, key in creating certain shapes and textures. It is important to explore the limits of materials and their potential in order to achieve the desired aesthetics. In the creative process, from time to time, I am faced with market limitations or customer expectations, but this is exactly where I find my challenge. I believe that courage in fashion design lies in the ability to take risks, explore new ideas and create something that stands out from the crowd. Regardless of the challenges, design gives me the opportunity to express my authenticity and create stories that are far from the usual fashion conventions.

Ana Krgović
photo: Hai Nguyen/harbin Fashion Week

As far as I could see, it is your graduate collection "Invisible Path", and it is precisely in this that you presented the clash of African and European culture. These are two completely different cultures, so how difficult was it to create their symbiosis?

The process of creating the collection, which I proudly presented, was the result of my own work from start to finish. This collection represents the continuity of my Master's collection, which I designed a few years ago in Zagreb. At Harbin Fashion Week, I stood out with my uniqueness, considering that all the other designers had their own teams and employees. My approach to fashion is not just about the dressing aspect; instead, I explore its deeper sociological and psychological context. I am inspired by the unstoppable dynamics of migration, with a special emphasis on those that take place from Africa to Europe. In order to convey that story, I use black and white lines that symbolize the restriction of movement, inspired by the stripes of the prisoners' clothes. The circular shapes in my collection represent the eternal cycle of movement, energy, dynamism and power. During my research, I discovered a fascinating story about the so-called "African" print. In reality, that print did not originally come from the African continent, but was produced in Europe with the intention of marketing it to the colonies in Indonesia. However, the market did not accept this kind of product, so the print ended up in Africa, where it became recognizable. I emphasize the complexity of the relationship through the change of print size, textile design and the application of biodegradable colors on different materials.

Ana Krgović
photo: Hai Nguyen/harbin Fashion Week

It is this collection that transcends fashion boundaries in terms of design and materials. With this kind of design it is not difficult to draw attention, but do fashion lovers understand your message in the right way, because what you do is quite complex?

Yes, it's true that this collection transcends fashion boundaries both in terms of design and the use of materials. I understand that my approach to fashion is complex, but it is precisely in this complexity that there is a deeper layer of meaning that I want to convey to fashion lovers. This collection is not just about aesthetics and looks; it is an expression of my deep research and thinking about cultural topics, migrations and sociological aspects of fashion. Through prints, graphics and symbols, I try to communicate the story of relationships and connections between different cultures. In addition, it is important to note that I am aware that fashion in Montenegro is still not understood in the right way. As a designer, I have the duty to educate people about fashion with my example and story, with the hope that this will lead to a change in the fashion scene itself and a better understanding of this art field in Montenegro.

Ana Krgović
photo: Hai Nguyen/harbin Fashion Week

You mostly use combinations of two colors. How much can colors emphasize and influence the very message that the creation carries?

Colors play a powerful role in shaping our perception and emotional experience, and through their application we can further emphasize and deepen the meaning of clothes. When I first immersed myself in color theory, esp Johannes Iten, I discovered how powerful a tool colors can be for non-verbal communication. By carefully combining the basic colors, white and black, I create powerful images and visual experiences. Red, blue and yellow, together with the neutral tones of white and black, become essential tools for creating contrast and highlighting individuality. By skillfully connecting these colors, I shape not only clothes, but also the story I want to convey. This approach allows me to explore the language of colors more deeply, building unique visual compositions and highlighting different aspects of personality.

Ana Krgović
photo: Hai Nguyen/harbin Fashion Week

Most designers focus their collections on, as they themselves say, "strong women", "women with attitude", "women of style"... When you make your models, who do you see in your creations?

When I create my models, I see women who understand creativity, who are individualistic, who love fashion, authenticity and innovation, but who are at the same time contemporary and environmentally conscious. My creations are intended for women who are brave to express their unique style and who appreciate art and understand the deeper meaning of fashion. I create non-wearable models that serve as a source of inspiration for creating wearable ones. Non-wearable models often represent experimentation with form, textures and innovative concepts, providing space for creative exploration. This dynamic combination of non-wearable and wearable garments reflects an innovative approach to fashion design, where experimentation with the boundaries of fashion turns into inspiration for creating practical pieces of clothing.

Ana Krgović
photo: Hai Nguyen/harbin Fashion Week

With the creations you make, it is difficult to fit shoes, and you are also forced to make your own contribution. How difficult is it to come up with that detail that should accompany the story?

Fitting shoes that perfectly complement my creations is an extraordinary challenge, because I want this accessory not only to accompany the story, but to be a key element in expressing a strong identity and creativity, highlighting the strength and power of each piece of clothing. Developing a detail like this requires careful thought about aesthetics, functionality and, of course, the story I want to convey. I believe that these unique pieces are the right choice when it comes to the market, considering that women are always ready to invest in something special, even if they prefer a classic style. That's why I plan to visit one of the bigger fairs in Milan soon, where I hope to find a manufacturer capable of meeting my requirements. It will be a key step towards realizing the vision of shoes that not only follow the fashion story, but also enrich it with their own unique story and character.

Ana Krgović
photo: Hai Nguyen/harbin Fashion Week

Conventional fashion pieces are always comfortable, while the models you create don't really look like that. Can this kind of haute couture bring comfort to the wearer?

Shift studio is designed so that I create non-wearable models in it, which serve as a source of inspiration for creating wearable ones. Non-wearable garments often represent experimentation with form, textures and innovative concepts, providing space for creative exploration. When designing my outfits, I devote myself deeply to creating complete visual stories. With my approach, I want to express different identities through resourcefully combining wearable and comfortable clothing pieces, diverse accessories, and experimenting with different shapes and forms. Every detail in my outfit has its role in creating a strong image that is not just clothes, but becomes a work of art. In my creation process, I strive to visualize the entire composition to convey a deeper story about the identities I want to represent. I have always believed that fashion is not just a means of covering the body, but an expression of an art form.

Ana Krgović
photo: Hai Nguyen/harbin Fashion Week

More and more designers are turning to recycled and biodegradable materials. You yourself had the opportunity to start this environmental topic through your work. Can high fashion be created from recycled materials and how important is it to take care of the environment through this industry as well?

Before starting my studies, I had no knowledge that the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter in the world, and this knowledge was particularly difficult considering my professional direction. The discovery of the harsh reality about the unethical behavior of the fashion industry, which includes not only pollution, but also harmful effects on animals and inhumane treatment of workers, motivated me to choose materials with special care. I strive hard to ensure that the garments I create are not only long-lasting, but also adaptable to multiple seasonal trends. At Shift Studio, I am committed to an environmentally responsible approach to creation, using materials that are either recycled or have the potential to be recycled, while the print is created with biodegradable inks. Sometimes I apply zero waste techniques to reduce waste, using leftover materials to create new forms. I pay special attention to the minimum consumption of materials. In the coming period, I plan to participate in events in Belgium that focus on the topic of sustainability in the fashion industry. This initiative represents a step towards raising awareness and encouraging change within the industry, and my goal is to contribute to positive transformations through my engagement and practice.

Ana Krgović
photo: Hai Nguyen/harbin Fashion Week

I am focused on creating value that lasts

Fashion changes too quickly, and what was worn decades ago is often "trendy". Do you try to accompany your collection or dictate trends yourself?

At Shift Studio, I strive to create collections that are not subject to rapid changes in trends. My approach to fashion is focused on creating value that lasts, rather than following passing fads. I draw inspiration from deep topics such as identity, culture and sustainability, I strive to create collections that are timely and relevant. While I respect the dynamics of fashion, I want Shift Studio to be recognized for its originality and authenticity, rather than blindly following current fashion trends. Designers create trends, those who consume fashion follow them. I want to create clothes that are thought-provoking and have a lasting impact, not just a momentary moment in the fashion industry.

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