Hungarian Fashion Designer Dori Tomcsanyi

Budapest–I was recently in the Hungarian capital for an interview with Croatia’s 2Cellos (more on that later) and it happened to also be Fashion Weekend (or more precisely Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Central Europe) so I traipsed across the bridge and headed to the stunning Várkert Bazár for a few shows.  I loved the idea that the fashion weekend was highlighting designers from across the region, including Serbia’s Ana Ljubinkovic, who I had interviewed for a story about Serbian fashion for New Eastern Europe magazine. There is a lot of design talent out there in central and eastern Europe and the show had some of the regions most interesting designers from places including  the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Serbia and Croatia.

The 27 year-old Hungarian designer Dori Tomcsanyi and I had been playing email tag for a few weeks before the fashion weekend (I think she is one of the most interesting design talents from Hungary and surely one to watch), but we had not been able to connect as she was slammed with preparing for the show. Luckily, I got a chance to see her S/S 2016 collection during the weekend and loved the fresh prints and bouncy look she has going on for next year. I had to run off after the show (which like any fashion weekend was full of many skinny women wearing lots of black, men in fedoras  and everyone trying to look VERY important as they sat around waiting for the next runway show) so Dori and I never actually got to meet. But we connected, finally, over email this week so I could ask her a bit more about her work and her collections. She wrote that while she did not have a favourite film, she loved Wes Anderson movies, which was quite funny as I got a “Moonrise Kingdom” vibe I got as I watched the models strutting her camouflage jackets and flouncy skirts on the catwalk. The Budapest native, who says her favourite book is Sofie Oksanen’s “Purge”, talked fashion, the design scene in Budapest and where she’d like to be in three years.  EXCEPTS:

dori 2Tell me how you got into fashion/designing?

I went to Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest (MOME), I graduated from knitwear BA and fashion design MA. I’ve always been interested in textiles and unique patterns, and MOME was the only place where I could study textile design. I got in and after 2 years I realised, that only designing textiles won’t be satisfying for me. I wanted more, I wanted to create clothes, not only the patterns.

What were your inspirations for your S/S 2016 collection? I loved all the prints, which felt very fresh. 

My inspiration was the bygone age of Lake Balaton [located in western Hungary]. In the  1970s and 1980s ,Balaton was a very popular and also posh place to go to spend your holiday. It was a luxurious atmosphere [during] socialism where not only Hungarians, but East Germans spent their vacations. I also spent my summers there since I was three years old, so I grew into the mood of it. Retro floral prints , modernist lake houses , exciting interiors were all part of my childhood and now my constant inspirations.

How would you describe the fashion scene in Budapest at the moment? I was impressed by all the designers–not just Hungarian–who were showing. Is Budapest becoming an emerging fashion capital for the region? 

It could grow I guess. Local designers are great, that’s not a question. But the business here is just awful. You have the go further to get some appreciation (and I don’t mean likes, more likely buyers). You can’t expect local costumers to buy designer clothes if they can’t even pay for their [rent] or health care. So I believe the fashion scene is great, but if you want to do business you need to go further to a not so emerging fashion capital (like Paris or London).

Who are your clients–are they mostly based in Budapest? Are you hoping to do more work with international clients? You were at London Fashion Week in 2014 for example. 

I have a store in downtown Budapest. The customers are mostly tourists. When we put up a 50% off sale , Hungarian customers start arriving, before that it isn’t so busy for them. Currently we’re selling to 14 stores worldwide. The feedback is pretty great. Buyers appreciate the unique patterns, the easy to combine pieces and the effortless humor which comes with the collection.

What are the most fun components for you to design–skirts, dresses, jackets, etc?

I love creating prints and playing with colours. Also uniform is a great inspiration for me, so whenever you see a *dori tomcsanyi* piece, you’ll recognise it from it’s colour combination, playful, freehand patterns or utility like pockets.

In an ideal world, where would you like to see yourself in three years? Designing in Budapest but showing more internationally or moving to one of the world’s bigger fashion capitals and working on your collection there? What are your future dreams in terms designing? 

I like living in Budapest. I also love traveling. I hope I’ll have a nice combination of both in my future. I go to Paris quite often, I also spent six months there with Erasmus [a European student exchange program]. I have some great friends there, but I can’t imagine living my life in Paris or any other “fashion capitals.” If I would have a great opportunity I wouldn’t say no, but I wouldn’t push to live somewhere else either. In the near future I want my brand to expand as much as possible, but I’m not attracted to live a glamorous jet set life, I’m rather a “let’s cook dinner with friends” type.