text: Nikolas Bernáth, foto: Maja Bodnárová
Closely connected to the fashion world since very young age, a designer Vanda Janda has told us all about the importance of self-confidence in the Golden Treasure room. Believing in the zeal-reaching-goals principle, she emphasizes the role of her own dreaming. Through a blog, instagram up to her own fashion brand and e-shop – the following interview describes her viewpoint on contemporary brands’ concepts but also a personal cult phenomenon.
You became one of the very first fashion bloggers here in Slovakia, in times when it wasn’t such a popular sensation. At that period, you must have been very young — what lead you to the decision to start with a fashion blog in the first place?
My grandma became my idol whose family pursued this field already in Warsaw. I actually never followed any fashion blogs – I thought it was my own invention. My friend introduced me to a camera while going for a coffee, and that is how I met with photography. The same somehow goes for my writing skills. Since my dad was a journalist it always felt familiar to me. I participated in various rhetorical or poetry-reading competitions. At that time I was already under the contract with a modeling agency, and, in a sense, all of these activities of mine lead me to a conclusion or an idea that I should start with my own blog. People were telling me that I dressed in a different way than the rest, and some started following me all by themselves. Another reason being that such thing wasn’t so widespread here.
How long did it take for the brands to start funding you? How has your blog evolved since its beginnings?
It took around five years until I got sponsored by the brands such as Footshop, H&M or some smaller Slovak labels. I ended up feeling a bit pathetic later – the fact is that I used to put on items from basic brand-known collections and then complemented them with second-hand ones. I thought it was just too little of what I did. I knew how to sew and so I decided to show people how to do it. It turned out to be quite successful but because there were a lot of bloggers around I thought it wasn’t effective. And then there were some common reactions on articles about increasing self-esteem or self-loving like ‘I love you, I want to be like you’. That’s when I finished blogging. Instagram was getting popular at that time and I started with my first posts. Even though I stopped with blogs, I launched my own website www.vandajanda.com. By improving my sewing skills, I became acquainted with the fashion collection principles and understood them better. I promoted my own items, shot in order to help explaining ideas of my design. That is where girls from the blog joined and now I manage it as an e-shop.
How old were you when you had that blog?
How can a person get to avant-garde so early?
I am an only child and have an extremely intelligent father. At the age of four I learnt how to read with the book Gulag. There wasn’t enough space for a bedroom for me, so my parents placed me into my father’s library. I was treated as an adult and had a problem socializing with other kids at school. Avant-garde seemed as quite a natural title for my blog – it appeared as something different to me.
What about your stand on current world-known brands.
Brands see business and marketing in the other way nowadays. Givenchy used to pick clothes for movie stars from the motion pictures like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Paris – When it Sizzles, Roman Holiday. These were blazer costumes, dior-hip dresses with big shoulder pads, bodycon figure. And now what you got is rottweiler-like Givenchy or five-starred shirt. Designers completely disrespect rules of a given brand, they actually contradict them. Raf Simons is the only one I admire. He employs retro features for Jil Sander, Dior and now Calvin Klein as well, and implements them into contemporary fashion trends.
You studied at ŠUP, clothing design. What do your studies represent for you?
My school keeps me grounded. Being around my peers makes me understand I am not a big fish yet. A designer needs to have loads – business sense, strong social media base and personal presentation, sewing skills, being a good rhetorical speaker and to sew well. It really is a lot. I attend the university so as to get an opinion. It is completely free of charge and not from a friend of mine. I am in the middle of a very fruitful period and I create a lot. Ideas from school force me to always consider new facts. I am definitely not studying for those few letters in front of my name.
I guess this is where the importance of personal cult takes over.
Sad but true. People do not buy my design because they like it but because they long to look like me in it. It’s bizarre, tragic, funny, but many brands are built according to such concept. We sell female customers our appearance. I didn’t even sell some of my pieces – I just didn’t like the way buyers approached them with.
What do you think about democratization in the art sphere? Let’s just use an example of Vladimír 511.
I love him. Let me tell you an example – people from fashion industry keep on stressing out about us, freaking fashion bloggers, sitting in the first row during fashion week shows. We are not purchasers there – most of them are often fourteen-year old girls who are famous because they have twelve-year old girl followers. They got the numbers, but not the money. I was there too, I started earning a bit from Instagram just now. I did everything for a barter, I had no idea that I could make money out of it. Billionaires’ wives occupy the second row and those are actually able to buy something, but what is more? This person can easily see the show and its pieces through the insta at her cozy home.
Can you separate brand Vanda and real Vanda Vanda on instagram?
Absolutely. That’s why I have such strong friendships – my closest ones have insisted on me remaining a private person since the very beginning. Vanda Janda coming only after that. Sometimes I feel as a disturbed being. Once my class teacher ordered me for a counseling because she didn’t understand that I was in a different reality. Now I’m completely fine. My personas are very similar, and so is my life when compared to that instagram one.
Most of the people who attended Talk & Pizza event are of a younger generation. What do you think about their future?
Majority of the people who are around me look up to me as some sort of younger generation representative. However, current young people have a totally different relationship with technology as such, they just got it in themselves. What saddens me is the fact that they are slowly losing individuality when following their idols so vigorously. Later they genuinely start becoming them. Audrey Hepburn as Holly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s was my idol. Despite that, I grew on perceiving the character in the other way. I frequently get the feeling that the young do not achieve the surprise effect moment. Everybody’s public and does not have an ambition to find out who he/she is. They become a portrayal of the person they took the appearance from.
As from you, for example.
As from me. I saw girls pronouncing or gesticulating the same way I do. Some of them have the same shade of Paris blue color which I have in my bedroom. It’s freaking me out. We got so much information and we must select what we need, what is relevant for us and what isn’t. We’ve become choked by everything. Nothing is unavailable, we can have everything.
I got 15k of followers, my instastories are viewed by a triple number of that, though. However, it is quite easy to build a base of 100k by purchase, or nude-shoot. Essential for me is to be shared by important people from my field. That girls who follow me actually come to me afterwards. The same goes for magazines. Pictures of me occur in Czech or Slovak ones, but I managed to be displayed in a Japanese Vogue. That’s the way I get to better business.
Tell me something about your vision of the future.
I want to be a president. I used to have a list of goals as a kid. I wanted to have an article in Vogue and Elle, and I got it very soon. I realized right there I could become whatever I dreamt to. So if I tell myself to aspire for presidency, I know I can get it if I act adequately. My vision is, therefore, to clearly state my goal. I know I’ve got the talent to influence others. If I learnt enough and had some point how to improve the world and to help people at the same time, I know, I could be massively influential.
Sound of feminism.
I don’t agree with the perception of that word. And I hate feminism in fashion. It doesn’t exist. I hate when a girl says that the figure is too feminine. I put in it the cult of my own mother and grandmother. They are very strong women in my life, I look up to them, adore them. Thus, my feminine collection. Now I’m going to have a new one: secretary blazer, garment belt, wide hat. A sexually targeted profession. And so is the whole collection – the woman sits with this blazer and when she stands up, she blows away the look of the person she is speaking to with the hat. I demonstrate similar concept in all of my collections all the time. I am very liberal.
What is it like to dive in the fanciest of The Invisible Hotel’s designs? Sleep in the same room as Vanda did and uncover the wall embedded Golden Treasure.
Book the room with The Invisible Hotel here.