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Workshop, Fashion Design, Nida Art Colony
Workshop, Fashion Design, Nida Art Colony

Fashion Design from Lithuania

I was particularly looking forward to this workshop in the arts center of Nida: Fashion Design. Students from the Academy of Arts in Vilnius come to the coast of Lithuania to talk fashion in the isolated world of the dunes – and that for ten days. That means ten days of sketching, crafting, and presenting. “The seminar is really quite intensive,” says the leader of the project, Professor Jolanta Talaikyté. At her side is the instructor Egle Grebliauskaite, who worked for years in the fashion industry – she is responsible for the professional flair of the participants.

Professor Jolanta Talaikyté with student, Nida Art Colony
Lecturer Egle Grebliauskaite, Vilnius Art School
Lecturer Egle Grebliauskaite, Vilnius Art School

How to pose for a shooting

I got a taste of that right away on the day of my visit as we headed out into the fresh air, with me accompanying the students on a short photo shoot. A photo shoot? The photographer’s name is Vitautas Nadziunas. He’s an architect and is married to the professor. Today, he’s taking the pictures. The students are playing “model” on this particular morning. “The poses are all part of it,” says Vitautas, “as that’s one thing the fashion designers will pass on to their models later on”. And they’ll be fully capable of doing so when the time comes, as they’re doing a great job in front of the camera. This course of study clearly has a high fun factor – there is a lot of laughter throughout the whole excursion.

Shooting in the dunes
Foto-shooting in the dunes of Nida

Vytautas Naudžiūnas, Nida Art Colony

A Life at the Border

The Nida Art Colony is a part of the Academy of Arts in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The buildings are clustered in the woods in the coastal town of Nida, located in the middle of the Curonian Spit with its legendary coastal landscape on the Baltic Sea. Nida is only a few thousand meters away from the Russian border – a road leads directly to Kaliningrad in the Russian exclave.

Short break outside the classroom
Short break outside the classroom
A life at the border
Fisherman's houses in Nida
Fisherman’s houses in Nida

The world of Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis

Professor Talaikyté invited me to the seminar room to chat with her and her students about the workshop. They are learning about one of the most popular and important artists from their country, being Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis, an exceptional artistic talent of the early 20th century: A painter and composer about whom it is said that he could “hear colors and see sounds”.

Workshop, Fashion Design
Workshop, Fashion Design

They are not just talking about art in stuffy rooms though, but rather investigating the current fashion market and their chances as up-and-coming fashion designers.

One thing that impresses me is how practical and goal-oriented they are in their work, already in the second year of their studies – in a professional studio they learn how to design a collection, develop a label, and how to present everything professionally. “This course of study is very good, but also very demanding”, says the instructor.

“There is a little Karl Lagerfeld in every student here!”
– Professor Talaikyté

The atmosphere is very work-oriented, but still friendly and relaxed. Some of her students with remarkably young faces are not even 20 years old. They seem motivated and very excited: “I love fashion”, declares one of them. They view their job chances positively: “There are many successful brands and labels in Lithuania”. Their country may be small, but that doesn’t matter in this case, as they’ve got their eyes set on the big international market. They’re already studying in Vilnius, a city that attracts a lot of tourists. When asked if they could imagine pursuing a career in Paris or New York, they all immediately answer with “Yes!”.

The professor has only good things to say about her protégés and has no doubt that they will do great things: “There is a little Karl Lagerfeld in every student here!”

Nida, Curonian Spit
Nida, Curonian Spit
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Author: Kay Dethlefs