Fashion Road: Dialogue across Borders

Fashion Road: Dialogue across Borders is a two year collaborative project aimed at promoting intercultural dialogue and cross-border collaboration through which fashion designers from Armenia and Europe will look into the past for ideas and inspiration. It is an EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture) project organised by the British Council, the Czech Centres, Goethe-Institut, the Danish Cultural Institute and the Romanian Cultural Institute, in partnership with theArmenian Fashion Council. The project received the support of the European Union through the Culture Programme (2007-2013).

The project will bring together young fashion designers from Armenia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Romania and UK which will study the traditional costumes of the participating countries and will explore the role of those costumes in contemporary society. Key to this project will be for the designers to view clothing in a cultural context and use modern technologies and approaches to present their interpretation of the countries' culture and identity.
Ten designers (five European designers and five Armenian designers) had the opportunity to meet and work together, to take part in international seminars with professionals from Europe and Armenia, followed by a residency programme organised in Armenia, at the beginning of May. Each Armenian designer was paired with a European designer and they will work together to prepare four costumes for the general collection of the project. The pairs are the following: Aram Nikolyan (Armenia) – Andra Cliţan (Romania), Christine Avetisyan (Armenia) – Pavel Ivancic (Czech Republic), Lusine Kostanyan (Armenia) – Geannine Pollazzon (UK), Gayane Soghomonyan (Armenia) – Melanie Freier (Germany), Ani Iskandaryan (Armenia) – Ida Gro Christiansen (Denmark).

They continued their teamwork in the summer of 2011 as part of the European residencies, when they went further with the collection development. Their works have to reflect the cultural heritage, values and traditions of the participating countries which they explored during their residencies. The Romanian designer and her Armenian pair structured their collection during the residency in Romania that took place between 1st and 10th of July 2011.
The general collection of the project (overall 20 pieces) will be put into an exhibition which will be launched in Yerevan and tour in 4 regions of Armenia and in the participating European countries in 2012.

The collection prepared by the designers will raise understanding and appreciation of European cultural values and identity among the Armenian public as well as the Armenian cultural history and heritage among Europeans. It will also serve as a forum for discussions about the importance of cross-cultural cooperation and exchange as well as the fusion of cultural traditions and heritage with modern trends and technological developments for more creative and innovative approaches in fashion.

The Romanian designer, participant in the project, Andra Cliţan, was selected at the end of a contest launched by the Romanian Cultural Institute in December 2010.

Andra Cliţan holds a B.A. and a M.A. in fashion design from the University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca. She is a Ph. D. candidate at the same University, having as research theme traditional holidays costume in Maramureş. She received scholarships in France and in Great Britain. Born and raised in Maramureş, Andra Cliţan had the opportunity to be in contact from on early age with traditional art and costumes and this had a strong impact on her identity as a young fashion designer. She included with originality and creativity traditional elements in her representative collections, such as „Back to Roots", „Mara Mi" or „My Maramureş". She participated to various fashion events in Romania and abroad (Italy, France, and Germany). In addition to fashion design, she is also interested in sculpture, painting, photography, jewelry design.

Project structure and dates:
December 2010 – January 2011: Selection of fashion designers
Five fashion designers will be selected in Armenia and one from each participating European country.May 2011: International seminar, master classes, residencies in Armenia
Fashion designers and experts from the European countries and Armenia will take part in these activities. Armenian designers will be paired with the designers from the European countries. June – July 2011: Residencies in Europe
The Armenian designers will visit the corresponding European countries of his/her partner.August – October 2011: Creation and production of outfits
Each pair will work collaboratively to produce 4 pieces for the general collection of the project (overall 20 pieces) reflecting the cultural heritage of Armenia and the European countries in their art works. • January – August 2012: Touring the exhibition
An exhibition will be developed to showcase the collection of the designers which will tour in Armenia and in 5 European countries.