The kaleidoscopic, intricate and eclectic creations of Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena are born from their love of juxtaposition. Since the beginning, the British-Bulgarian duo has embraced contrast in all its facets, reconciling tradition and modernity, Eastern European folklore and 80s sportswear, forgotten crafts and utilitarian elements – all through the unifying mantra of authenticity.
Chopova Lowena has an anthropological approach to design, observing traditional customs and reimagining them through a modern lens. Captivated by the preciousness of ceremonial objects, they explore the construction of value within a community. For their last collection, the duo was drawn to coming-of-age ceremonies like weddings and prom nights, as well as sports events like motocross competitions, because of their emphasis on expressions of man- and womanhood. Analysing and reinterpreting the gender tropes that commemorate these rich celebrations became a way for the designers to explore their own femininity.
Contrasting heritage and function, the collection features graphic biker prints, vintage patriotic keychains, colourful vintage flags, protective sports gear, obsolete keys and coins, tourist trinkets and long forgotten heirlooms. From the skin- tight, neon-coloured mesh to the signature layers of pleated wool and nylon, their meticulously crafted designs land somewhere in between cultural artifact and fashion statement.
Creative director Ben Kelway sought to render the pair’s whirlwind bricolage of cultures and styles through images that convey a sharp nostalgia. Inspired by the various, romantically outdated ways in which fashion was presented prior to the rise of the runway, the set evokes the alienating feeling of watching TV on a foreign channel. The project is an ode to Chopova Lowena’s ability to make limitless novelty bloom from the aesthetics of quaint cultural relics; a testament to the numerous ways in which fashion, culture, and ritual intersect.