Entitled ‘Victoire: La Mort Lente de L’Esprit’, the latest range of garments by Romanian designer Mihai Dan Zarug illustrates a very personal approach to fashion in what was undoubtedly his most accomplished collection to date. Inspired by the dark atmosphere of Claude Chabrol’s cinematography, Zarug found creative inspiration for the collection in the positive and negative moments in his personal life. At the same time, the range of clothes embodies an affirmative attitude to life, the pressing urge for freedom, and the need for individuality and self-assertion over the oppressive collective.
The forms of the garments appear to be rigid at first, an impression that is quickly dissipated when one notices how stiff fabrics such as leather, lamb Nappa and sturdy water-resistant wool are combined with soft and fine materials like mink fur, silk, cotton, and thinner wool. In this sense, the collection’s outerwear clothes are used to create a second skin that functions not only as a sheltering layer to protect the wearer from environmental influences but also as a way to suggest how individual emotions and thoughts are often hidden from societal opinion.
This metaphor continues in the shape of the clothes. If the jackets, shirts and trousers demonstrate a highly accomplished competence of cutting and layering techniques, the wide and elongated torsos evoke the masculine shape of a protecting suit of armour that is enriched with delicate and feminine cuts and pleats. These loose-fitting garments are juxtaposed with tight-fitting trousers to create a flattering and elongated silhouette while stressing the ambivalent notion of mixing opposites. Discreet details such as white collars and striped elastic bands in vivid colours are used to add a contrasting touch of brilliancy to the elegant clothes conceived predominantly in black.
Mihai Dan Zarug presented his first collection under the name twenty(2)too in 2010. The Autumn/Winter 2012 collection marked his debut on the catwalk of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin as part of the Romanian Designers showcase. Zarug believes that fashion exists outside, and regardless of, the wearer’s gender, a notion that has been manifest throughout his collections. On the surface, his creations might be categorised as mixed or unisex; however, on closer analysis, this personal approach to fashion is based on creative tropes that offer deeper and rich meanings. By combining socially constructed traits of masculine and feminine dress in his garments in a very successful manner, Zarug reveals a passionate interpretation of fashion as a regenerative force that has the potential to illustrate individual style as a genderless and natural characteristic of human nature.