DESIGNING WEARABLE ART: A Revolution in Sustainable Fashion
When asked about the collection, Iva said, “I was looking into a line between haute couture and ready-to-wear: garments that are handcrafted, hand dyed, and hand embroidered — so luxurious in that sense for me in this contemporary world and the textile industry.”
Iva’s label, Iva Pfeiffer Creations, is renowned for luxe fabrics, small runs, intricate designs, and the ethical supply chain at the forefront of an emerging new trend.
Her collection is targeted for “confident women, who are not brand-oriented, who like the individual look and appreciate the craftsmanship behind it,” she said.
Originally, Iva wanted to be a nurse, while her parents hoped she would take over their tailoring shop in the Czech Republic. Although she did complete training in custom-made tailoring, she saw no creativity in the profession earlier.
She revealed, “I didn’t want to return to the village and take over my parents’ business, so I worked in multiple jobs in hospitality, as an assistant nurse, in a nursing home, cleaning, babysitting, anything which gave me an income.”
“I went to Australia to study English and met my husband there. He had a contract to work for a year in Japan, so I followed him to Japan and studied kimono making and sewing, and that is what changed my life…” she said.
Her newest collection roots this influence in evening dresses and suits, which have kimono features to them.
“I explored the creative part of the textile industry in Japan and fashion generally. The art and craft there just blew my mind and that is why I am still using influences of Orientalism from a [Western] point of view — the kimono, obi belt, and Mandarin colors. I would like to believe that I will have the ‘kimono signature’ in my work,” she said.
Each piece she creates is unique.
“All my garments are originals. After this runway, most likely I will place a production of this range. I will use the same patterns but differentiate features of each garment – using a different print, embroidery, and color,” she said.
In addition to making wearable art, Iva strives to create sustainable, environmentally friendly designs. She studied sustainability at the university, completing a semester abroad in Shanghai, China. While in China, she visited some of the factories because she was concerned about some of the production in the country.
“I wanted to prove to myself and gain the strength to stand up for environmentally friendly design practices and be socially responsible. In China, I was crying every time I left the factory.”
After her visit to the factories and seeing the conditions, Iva decided that she would focus on small scale rather than mass production of her work.
“Each garment will be original and ecologically friendly. I will know where the fabrics come from and where the garments are made and how they are made because at the end of the day, I really need to be personally satisfied with my work.”
Concerning textiles, Iva said, "I always like to work with natural fibers not just because of being because I am a sustainable designer, and I love the protein fibers because they drape beautifully: silk, wool, linen…” In Translations, she primarily uses silk, which accentuates the pigment of the dye.
The collection itself highlights block printing and textile designs of Czech artist Petra Valentová, who Iva happened to meet while doing an exhibition in New York. Petra invited her to the Indian village of Bagru, where Iva immersed herself in the traditional techniques of hand-dying and woodblock printing, inspired by the rich histories in India and the Czech Republic.
“We collaborated on the fabrics and natural dyes and the block print in India…and I’ve seen how much she has supported the local communities. I wanted to support her, to buy her fabrics and promote them.”
Iva hails from a region in the Czech Republic called Moravia, known for its indigo, blue print modrotisk used in the traditional folk outfit called kroj. Instead of letting the tradition of these patterns die, she wanted to see the craft taken further.
“I think that Petra is trying to make sure that there will be new block prints which would have maybe similar aesthetics but are a little more contemporary.”
The indigo dyes of the Czech and Indian block printing are similar, but the Czech pigment is darker and finer. Iva said, “I like both…I really like both. It’s more about supporting the local artisans so that they can still maintain their creative art and craft from one generation to another – to preserve its culture and history.”
Iva pays keen attention to every aspect of the process to make sure that the art is being featured and employees are not exploited.
“Most likely I know that I will have production in India because I have found a factory there that I can trust and I’ve seen the workers. I’ve worked with them,” she said
Originally, she wanted all production in Australia where she currently resides, but the cost proved to be too much. She said, “Customizing will be in Australia and production will most likely be in India because otherwise it would be very hard to compete in the market.”
Iva believes in supporting the local communities of artisans, utilizing old and new techniques, and having high standards for working conditions. She hopes to keep jobs for artisans alive.
“To me it’s like experiencing another industrial revolution,” she said.
For more about Iva Pfeiffer or to see her most recent work, visit www.ivapfeiffercreations.com.