Iva Burkertová stepped into the fashion industry headlong during her studies and her fashion models have appeared on the catwalks for nearly a decade now. Given the number of years she has worked in this field, you might be surprised to see a lively redhead with an ever-present charming smile when you meet her for the first time. Even though her authorial brand ODIVI has been developing and attracting more and more attention, fashion design to her is still a game.
Iva has naturally moved from street wear to a more feminine and minimalist dressmaking. Nevertheless, she stays faithful to her roots and today she has continued adding elements relating to her beginnings. For example, she designed her own snowboard for fun and introduced it alongside with her models at the Prague Fashion Week.
When you first visit her studio you have absolutely no way of telling what lies behind the entrance. Coming from the busy Smíchovská Street you enter a beautiful part of the house, which Iva keeps as a blooming garden every spring. Iva has recently moved her ODIVI studio, attended by loyal customers for regular dress fittings, into a spacious ground floor. If you don’t necessarily need a tailored dress but still long for a nice piece, you can visit several Prague stores with ODIVI items such as Freshlabels, Czech Labels and Friends or a new ODIVI showroom at Masarykovo nábřeží, that Iva shares together with jewellery maker Tereza Houdková. Your wardrobe will love you!
You’ve been in the fashion environment for 8 years. How would you describe the development of your brand? What situations were of cardinal importance?
It’s been a game for me the whole time. Something that I love, something I’m keen on. I’ve moved from sporty colourful street style fashion to the fashion that is more feminine and minimalistic. Although saying that, it’s still based on sporty and comfortable design and functional materials. The moment of cardinal importance for me is when I manage to establish a relationship with some of the local companies or a nice boutique.
You’ve managed to get orders since your studies of fashion design. But you left school before your graduation. Retrospectively, do you consider it as the right move?
Everything has its reverse and obverse side. I think that my learning process by the method of try-fail helped me gain a lot of experience, albeit making a lot of mistakes and odd decisions :) Nobody paved the way for me how to do fashion and, therefore, I found my own, which I consider as an advantage. However, at the end I graduated from Multimedia and Design at Tomas Bata University in Zlín, which I studied long-distance.
Today you have a team of people helping you with ODIVI. What was the first time you realised you need more people? Do you surround yourself with your friends only at work?
I didn’t realise it for a long time. I thought that I had to do it myself. Wise advice from my friend made me realise that I need assistants and interns. My family and friends used to help me in the first instance but today I have interns from abroad and new people who joined us through our call on social media. They can gain experience, we share our contacts with them, barter and at the end they get an opportunity to create their own project.
What was the main inspiration for your spring collection? How long do you work on one collection? What is the most exciting phase?
SS14 DUBIK collection was like the end of one sentence and the beginning of a new one. SS15 and AW15 come from my passion for travelling. They are about the moments when I have the feeling that I can do everything, about extreme contrasts, sea, mountains, timelessness, moments, and superheroines. A collection like this takes about a year and a half to realise. From the first thoughts and designs, through a pattern production, photographing, fashion show, to its final stage of delivering it for customers. I enjoy most the moment of unpacking a new freshly-printed catalogue.
Do you design models for yourself too? What do you feel the most comfortable in?
I do and in the end the models usually end up in our Essentials collections. Variable dresses are made for me as they can be worn in every situation. Most of the time you will see me wearing leggings, oversized t- shirts, men’s second hand shirts, and sweaters. Coats are my weakness – I tailor a colourful ODIVI one for myself each year. Instead of a purse I prefer an ODIVI backpack or fanny pack.
What Czech or foreign fashion brands have interested you recently?
I enjoy Local Icons in the Czech Republic - the connection of young designers, traditional brands, and production makes sense to me. I love Polanka, enjoy Petra Ptáčková, and laugh the most with LaFormela. If I was looking to expand my closet I would shop in Slovakia at Drevená Helena. Nanushka and Dori Tomcsanyi from Hungary fascinate me with their readiness and world-wideness.
Do you plan to promote ODIVI abroad? Which city do you consider to be the main fashion centre? What about Prague?
Not only with ODIVI. I would generally love to travel more often and at the moment I’m determined to achieve it. I see cities in a more complex way than only from the fashion perspective – I enjoy the energy, people, architecture, food, and everything around. This also forms how I perceive fashion in a city. I’m after the undiscovered: young designers, hidden studios, concept stores, or flea markets. All those cities have something about them and they are all different – I can’t choose one. The same goes for Prague.
(Iva Burkertová, founder and creative director of ODIVI)