Jakub Polanka

Fashion Designer

Prague UMPRUM and Paris Institut Français de la Mode graduate, Jakub Polanka, opens up about his work and what inspired the looks for Preciosa’s A/W 2018 Nereid collection.

When did you first consider becoming a fashion designer?
I think I was three years-old. I saw a short cartoon about crafts and one of them was cloth-making. It was love at the first sight.


How would you describe your work? Where do find inspiration?
Inspiration is all around me. I am especially drawn toward femininity in society and as an intuition and emotion. My collections always represent an inner dialogue. Perhaps, through my designs I attempt to understand what happens inside of each woman. It’s a meditation.


Designers have the power to influence and drive cultural change. Do you feel any responsibility as a designer toward society?
I don’t necessarily feel responsible toward society as a whole, but I am very cautious of what I create and produce. Since fabrics and textile are the second most generated waste in the world, I think we are all responsible in some way. Naturally, this has led me to focus heavily on the creation of limited editions, re-designs and customized original pieces.


How has your work changed since you began as a designer?
I guess I have more self-respect now, and I’m not as cheeky as I was at the beginning. I have more freedom and I worry less about what others think. I’ve seen and experienced a lot – the rest will unfold naturally through by experience. I’ve learned to take my time as well, and that designing is true craftsmanship.


Do you make outfits for women only or also for men?
I design primarily for women. They fascinate me in many ways.


What is your ideal of feminine beauty? Of male beauty?
The ideal of beauty lies, in my opinion, in the courage to be yourself no matter what society or trends dictate. It’s about pride, strength, elegance and a hint of playfulness.


Who or what do you admire most on the local and global fashion scene?
Everyone and anyone who is not afraid to create original pieces regardless of success or profit.


Where are your pieces sold?
I sell privately to my clients and create customized/commissioned pieces as well. I enjoy being in touch with my clients in the same way that I enjoy creating the scenography for one of my shows.


What is your favorite material to work with?
Each material has its own aesthetic appeal. But, what I enjoy most are highly technical or modern materials created by traditional techniques and, at the same time, traditional materials created using modern technology.


What colors do you prefer to work with?
It always depends on the concept and direction of the collection. The color must be in harmony with the appearance and movement of the material, and always in accordance with the emotion I want to convey.


What was it like to work with crystals and glass components for the Nereid campaign?
Crystal is quite challenging as a material. It gives the pieces a tremendous sense of beauty and glitter, but its hardness and weight are difficult to apply on clothing. I like simplicity and logic and rarely do I embellish my designs, which is the reason I chose to work with the Crystal Net. It has all the sparkle and brilliance of traditional components, but with the new features of elasticity and translucency which give it a specific drape and creates a fantastic effect.


What was the most surprising aspect about working with crystals?
The biggest challenge was to express the beauty, shine and the vivacity in the photographs. These days, visuals are crucial. When the pieces are moving, the crystals create a brilliant sparkle, but the photos can only capture a second of that movement and a fraction of the beauty. Another surprising and challenging question was how to preserve the colorfulness and convey an aura of mystery.


Which product from the new Preciosa campaign is your favorite?
What I like about this collection is that all the pieces can be used as individual components or combined to create something new entirely. It's like a gaming system in which you can make your clothing fit your personality, mood or needs. So, I cannot say which is my favorite. I guess I perceive it more as a whole in the same way that I perceive a woman and the many aspects of her personality.


What was it like portraying a woman as a Nereid or sea nymph?
I am interested in the evolution of a woman, all the way from innocence to commanding great strength. Nereid is already mature with a strong personality – she’s a submarine leader freed from fear and concerns. She does not have to compromise to prove anything.


How do you view your competition? Have you ever felt that someone was trying to copy your work?
Everything can act as an inspiration for someone else. Today, I perceive things more like a collage of information that surrounds us. The whole concept or the creative identity of an artist then gives it a tangible form. Every new vision is often composed by forming new connections recycled from past ideas.


Will you continue to use glass and glass components in your future collections?
I would like to create a whole new collection based on this experience, but we will see what the future holds.


What are your next steps? What is your plan for the future?
If I knew, it would spoil all the fun, wouldn’t it?!