From a pub to a garden by night to the spotlight of London Fashion Week. After a long way Central Saint Martin’s student Ondrej Adamek planted a great future for himself with his graduate collection, which was just shown at London Fashion Week.
It is a typical rainy evening in London when I meet student and award winning designer Ondrej Adamek in the hallowed halls of Central Saint Martins College. It has been exciting weeks for the 28-year-old. Christopher Kane bestowed his MA graduate collection with the L’Oréal Professional Creative Award, which earned him £5.000 and the opening page of WWD. Now he is about to finish his Master course in Womenswear with his portfolio hand in next Monday.
But when meeting Adamek you can’t sense the stress and excitement he has gone through lately. Speaking with a soft voice and not letting a chance go for some jokes he seems calm and relaxed. Wearing a grey hoodie, black chinos, sneakers and a tote bag – clothes he claims he has not changed in the last five months because thinking about what to wear just would have taken too much of his thoughts – he looks like an average student rather than an eccentric designer.
But when sitting in the canteen over his teacup, speaking about his graduate collection, Adamek’s passion and talent for fashion design becomes obvious. “The collection was about the flower. I was curious about the flower’s repetitiveness in fashion. It is always there. But I wanted to do it more extreme.” The collection mimicked the process of the flower from its growing process to its blooming to its dying in the end. Oversized petal shapes bloomed out of the shoulders or hips of the models or obstructed their faces “so they look a bit innocent but there is something hidden behind the flower and it is quite sexual” as Adamek explains. He created a cheerful collection with strong colours and unexpected 3-D silhouettes that looked cartoonish and origami-like at the same time.
Build from extremes Ondrej combined precious Italian silk with penny-wise polyester. With love for detail the clothes are fastened with Velcro in abstract forms, which look like they arose from a comic.
Ondrej also designed the shoes, which were inspired by the form of a skateboard and a wooden, hand carved shoe Adamek found on the flea market. The result is a wooden sandal with simple black straps and forms of layered wood between the platforms that pick up on the shapes of the fastenings.
Ondrej Adamek’s extensive research for his graduate collection included the work of fashion designers Roberto Capucci and Pierre Cardin as well as the flower in art, how it is expressed, how it is painted. Especially fascinated by the paintings of night flowers, “where it all looked a bit more blue and dark”, different shades of blue became the main colour of his collection. Only brightened up by some flashes of pink at the point of the process when the flower starts to bloom.
Even though Ondrej’s collection has a real ease to it designing it was everything but easy. “Puuh where did I start? It’s like when you go to the pub and you want to get drunk but you don’t know what you want to drink. You just try a lot of things until you find something which you think is quite relevant which represents your personality and you start developing that thing.”
If he is not going to the pub Ondrej enjoys meeting his friends, going to galleries, on a hiking trip or having picnic at the beach. One can imagine very well how much fun he has doing all those things.
And if he wanted to represent his personality with his collection he accomplished his purpose, as it is just as humorous and thoughtful, naïve and sophisticated, romantic and forward thinking as Adamek himself.
Born in a small town “in the middle of nowhere”, close to Vsetint, in the east part of the Czech Republic Ondrej Adamek first started to study painting and fashion in his home country. But soon he reached for more. He wanted to study in a big, multicultural city. So he came to London – which has as many inhabitants as the whole Czech Republic – to start his BA in Womenswear at the legendary Central Saint Martins College. “I like the idea to dress someone. To give something to a person.” is how Ondrej explains his affection for fashion design. He interned at Ashish and at the accessories department of Alexander McQueen and worked freelance as a pattern cutter and designer. After he showed his BA graduate collection in 2011 he was invited to bring his creations back home to show it at Designblok Dreft Fashion Week in Prague.
The Czech press was quite impressed by his collection and several magazines emailed him to shoot his designs. But unfortunately Adamek had given them an old email address so he found the emails only a year later. “At that time I was feeling like ‘Shit! I could have been famous!’ But does it really matter? No. You just have to produce more work which is better than that before.”
Always longing for improvement Ondrej Adamek came back to Central Saint Martins to do his Master degree. Being “all about critique” and with great expectations pressing on Central Saint Martin’s students, he experienced the master course pushing him to his limits. “You come into the studio and you see the ‘wall of shame’ how Louise [Wilson, course director MA Fashion] calls it. But it is the wall of fame, all those famous people who came out and you just want to be on the same level. It is really not easy. You have to come up with something fresh and kind of new and it is just a lot of pressure.” But now that the course comes to an end Adamek resumes: “You learn a lot. Not just about your work. About everything. About yourself. It helped me in many things. I feel really privileged.”