On the Stage Of Life

Vali Cioban: “This year we had to present another collection… On the stage of LIFE!”

From the Paris Opera to making facemasks. It is a story of a wonderful fashion designer, Vali Cioban, who had to adapt rapidly during the pandemic. TechVangArt discusses with her about this change, new collection, and how fashion will be. 

TechVangArt(TVA): We had our last on-line discussion when you were waiting for the costume rehearsals at the Paris Opera. You worked for Swan Lake if I’m not mistaken. It was the first collaboration with the Paris Opera? 
Vali Cioban: I am delighted to hear from you again, even if online, and I hope to see you at a fashion presentation and talk the way we used to. 
Yes, I have made the costumes for the ballet troupe, Les Italiens de l’Opera, ballet dancers at the Opera Garnier in Paris, led by Alessio Carbone. It was one of the most beautiful professional and personal experiences to meet these talented dancers and wonderful people personally.
I made the costumes for Swan Lake, Adagietto, In the middle, Romeo & Juliet, Le parc, Prelude, Donizetti pas de deux.

TechVangArt(TVA): What is the difference between costume design for a Theater Show and the composition of a fashion collection for the catwalk?
Vali Cioban: Yes, there is a difference between stage costumes (we work for theater, opera, and shows) and fashion shows, but there is a great resemblance, too. 
For the stage costumes, we work according to the sketch, the changes we make every day is to represent the character as much as possible. The character also speaks through the costume.
At the costumes for the fashion show, I never respect the sketch, here the material speaks to me, it gives life to the creations. 

TechVangArt(TVA):How important do you think is the story in your art? I ask because in your collections we can follow a certain story. When we meet at the MQ Fashion Week in 2016 your brand present collection “Ielele” you inspired about mythology. In 2017 you present Paris Fashion Show amazing collection inspired by Romanian motif and one of the outfits from the “Contrast” collection appeared online on the British Vogue website.
Vali Cioban: The story is essential, sometimes it is the story that inspires me, other times the story is inspired by a word, a man, a state…
Everything is a story, a state; and the garment is the one that transmits the story further and gives you an attitude.  

 

TechVangArt(TVA): A year ago, on March 14, you had rehearsals for the Opera de Paris, and this year, also in March, Chic started to make the first respiratory masks. Many fashion designers create fashionable masks. You choose to sew masks for populations and protective suits for medical staff. Why you make this decision?
Vali Cioban: Yes, every year we used to present our first collection of that year in March. We prepared a new collection this year as well, but we had to present another one… on the stage of life, this time.
…At the end of February I made the first fashion mask and I posted one on instagram.Honestly, it was more for ‘let’s just have some fun’ … mainly because both my husband and my mother came up with the idea to make masks, and at that point I flatly refused.
In the first week of March I made masks for staff, gifts to clients and collaborators … In the second week, the madness started … it was the longest week of my life, ever! I went from denial, anger, turmoil to acceptance, adaptation and action.
I worked 14 hours a day, 7 days a week … I changed everything in the way of working, from the arrangement in the section, to the model, pattern, time, processes, material … and all this from Friday to Monday.
I had heard that there are no protective suits and I knew that doctors are the most exposed, then I knew that we were needed, that we would not be unemployed, I talked to my team and we entered together in another stage. 
From making 200 EUR  dresses we got 2 EUR gowns, overalls, boots and capes and masks made of three layers of polypropylene, reusable, we worked during the day, we studied at night, because we were in a completely different field.
I must also confess to you that although the price of the products included only the material with labor, the satisfaction I saw in the eyes of those to whom I gave the equipment gave us strength every day to move forward.
We were very tired, but happy that we found our place to be useful, with what we knew how to do better: clothes.

TechVangArt(TVA):Creative industries are one of the most affected by the current crisis! The priority for most people is not buying new clothes, so revenues went down. Not only sales are affected, but the whole chain of production. How was your work affected?
Vali Cioban: Yes, unfortunately it is so … Garments are no longer a priority, but we will find a way to reinvent ourselves, we are really working on it, we made a collection inspired by what we lived in this period and which I hope, I can launch online as soon as possible.
The work style is completely different, everything is different for everyone, what is important now is to adapt and reinvent.

TechVangArt(TVA):A lot of plans were canceled, how did you face the situation? (what important presentations you had to cancel this year?)
Vali Cioban: The international shows were the first I had to cancel, London and Vienna; and then the internal ones.
The orders I had for the events of this period underwent major changes. The weddings were rescheduled for the next year or fall, and different banquets were canceled.

TechVangArt(TVA):Do you think that this Covid period will be reflected in your future collections? (because In visual art, if you look at the latest works, masks, gloves, the elements I faced can be seen as the theme.)
Vali Cioban:The collection I have prepared is dedicated to doctors, it is inspired by them, but it does not contain masks and gloves … I have done enough, I do not want them in the collection, the story will be the doctor, the human being.

TechVangArt(TVA):Now, when a lot of fashion fairs, fashion shows, production facilities are affected, do you think technology might help? What is your opinion about the digitalization of the fashion industry? 
Vali Cioban:Indeed, online commerce will grow even more, it has grown also in this period, and it will continue as such. But certainly, when it will be possible there will be fairs, presentations, meetings, socializations, this is what LIFE, story, being human means.  

TechVangArt(TVA): What do you think will change in the fashion industry?
Vali Cioban: In the fashion industry, as in all the others, the mentality of both the consumer and the producer will change. The joy of simple things will govern this period. 

TechVangArt(TVA):What do you think it would be helpful for fashion designers in the future? 
Vali Cioban:A real help would be to pay “someone” for a period of time :)) or at least part of the salary and utilities, we could donate clothes for this value, it is a utopia, but it would be nice.

TechVangArt(TVA): Did you use in any way technological solutions? Do you think that technological solution would be useful in the future (either in production, sales, presentations, etc.?)
Vali Cioban: Yes, we use the lectra program for multiplication of sizes and framing for cuts, but the most important thing is manual work and “feeling”, the experience of 30 years in the field helps us to do very well without this high-performance technology, especially since most creations are unique. Now, of course, in these two months of production of thousands of pieces, a high-technology would have been very helpful, one man could have produced like six, which would have reduced production costs.
In the future, I see a combination of these two, but I place more trust in all the manual work and all that is done with passion, by human beings.
     
TechVangArt(TVA): One question, you were secretly hoping that we will ask, and we did not! And also, please answer it!    
Vali Cioban:If you had to give a title to this period, what would it be?
PASSION TRUST ADAPTATION

TechVangArt(TVA): Tell us, your most stringent problem, technology could solve it? (we will not publish that!) 
Vali Cioban:Sales and purchasing power. Technology is an important and very helpful part, it helps us to produce, to promote, to save time, but it is “H“ without a HUMAN.

TechVangArt(TVA):In 2016 your motto was, ‘Fashion is about more than just clothing; it is a statement. It is what you are, what you feel and what you want to be.”  You change your opinion about this in 2020?
Vali Cioban:YES, this is our motto as a brand since we reinvented ourselves, because we have done this several times over the last 30 years, and yes, it is the same now and it is more appropriate than ever.  Fashion is about more than just clothing!

The Chic By Vali Cioban Collection, you can find at https://www.chic.ro/

or on IG: https://www.instagram.com/chic.by.vali.cioban