Bora Aksu takes inspiration from Romani poet Papusza

SINGAPORE: For Spring-Summer 2019, Bora Aksu drew inspiration from the most distinguished Romani poetess: Bronislawa Wajs, widely known as Papusza.

Papusza grew up nomadically with her family in Poland. She was literate, which was unusual for her time, and learned to read by trading chickens in exchange for lessons with local villagers. This was frowned upon, and so she was beaten repeatedly for this matter. Married in a traditional ceremony at 15, to a much older harpist, she grew up very unhappy in her marriage and took to singing as an outlet. Soon after learning to sing, she began to compose her own songs based on traditional Romani storytelling.

Papusza’s band during the second world war stayed in Volynia (now Ukraine) and hid in the forests from the Nazis and Ukrainian extremists.

In 1949, she was noticed by the Polish poet Ficowski who instantly recognized her talent, and published several of her poems. Although her poems made Papusza known to the world, it also caused a negative turn in the poet’s life, as she was accused of revealing secrets of her native culture. The Roma community soon began to regard Papusza as a traitor and banished here from the community. Afterwards she spent eight months in a mental hospital, and the next 34 years of her life alone and isolated before her death in 1987.

As it often happens – her work grew in popularity after her death.

In a collection dedicated to her, Bora Aksu creates garments which reflects Papuzsa’s colorful nomadic life, her melancholic and sensitive self, as well as her determination in standing against traditional limitations.

The mixture of vibrant floral prints and soft silk tulles and laces represent her nomadic self, the shades of whites representing her early wedding, and deep blues with contrasting white embroideries reflect her passionate determined side. The combination of soft feminine fabrics and structured shapes add a sense of romance to the strong bold silhouettes. Much of the detailing is inspired by early 20th century Romani gypsy lifestyle and their symbolic dress codes.

Embroidered cut out lace patterns, in whites and dark shades as seen on the dress’s collars, cuffs and ribbons, send a soft-spoken nomadic message. The layering is key for SS19, and Aksu designed very specific and technical embroideries, prints and textures in romantic lines and shapes while maintaining a softness, mimicking the perfect balance achieved in Papuzsa’s character.

The capes in tulle and organza are also a dominant part of the collection and create an ethereal feel. Dominant colors such as lilacs, purples, corals and hot pinks, are used together with quieter shades such as whites, creams, soft blues, pinks and blacks.

Hand embroidered needle work flowers adorned the knitted head pieces created by Liria Pristine, adding a sense of drama to the collection.

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The Bora Aksu brand dates back to 2002, when designer Bora Aksu received his first acclaim upon graduation from Central Saint Martin’s MA course. Bora’s collection won a sponsorship award, giving him the opportunity to make his debut at London Fashion Week in 2003.

The Bora Aksu brand was founded in the same year and was quoted as “The Star of the Show” by broadsheets. A resounding success, a total of four consecutive “New Generation Awards” were presented to Bora from The British Fashion Council. He also won “The Designer of the Year” award from Elle Style and an acknowledgement from Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to the British Fashion Industry.

The romanticism of Bora’s collection makes for a refined yet modern aesthetic. Hand-crafted, layering and texture contrast, muted color and volume form its key DNA. Bora Aksu is lauded for its elegant, sophisticated, romantic and modern feminine.

Bora Aksu’s flagship store officially opened in Beijing in 2015. The stores followed in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Macau and Paris. In 2018, Bora Aksu continues on its expansion plans with store openings planned for Singapore, Korea, Europe and the United States. For more information, visit

Store address:
2 Bayfront Avenue, Canal Level, B2-107, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018972 Tel: +65 6688 7243
Level 2, International Collection, Takashimaya Department Store, Tower A, Ngee Ann City, No. 391 Orchard Road, Singapore 238873 Tel: +65 6734 1787

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