The ball season has started

I wasn’t originally planning to write about clothes on this site, but when I spotted this fabulous dress in my news feed this week, I knew I had to share it with you. And not just because it’s so divinely beautiful. It also touched my heart.

The dress appeared at the opening ball of the 2017 season at the Slovak Opera House in Bratislava.

traditional costume from Ocova village
Photo courtesy of Tamara Šimončíková Heribanová

The finely embroidered top and the headpiece both come from a traditional folk costume representing Očová village in the heart of Slovakia. The skirt was tailor-made for the occasion to give the whole outfit a more contemporary look.

The dress brings together our traditional arts with today’s fashion trends, as the model – the Slovak writer, journalist and presenter – wrote on Instagram.

I didn’t know Tamara in person, but I contacted her immediately, and she happily gave permission to publish the photos on this site. Tamara is a collector of Slovak folk art, especially traditional costumes from different corners of the country, and as you can see in the pictures, she also knows how to wear them.

This is how Tamara describes the outfit she wore for the prominent ball in the Opera House:

The top and the headpiece are more than 80 years old. They were borrowed from a private collection of two Slovak enthusiasts who have preserved traditional folk costumes from around Slovakia for decades.

The intricate embroidery has been done by hand with a special hook-shaped needle and a unique technique typical for the Podpoľanie (Podpolanyie) region, where the village of Očová lies.

traditional costume, headpiece
Delicate ‘carved’ embroidery adorns the sleeves of this folk costume from Očová village in Slovakia. Photo courtesy of Tamara Šimončíková Heribanová

If you wonder how the ‘carved’ embroidery on the sleeves is done, here is the answer: The patterns are first sewn on the linen by hand, then tiny pieces of fabric are cut out with special scissors. It takes ages – and an impeccable skill as well – to make a sleeve like this.

And why do I have such an emotional bond with this art? I was born in a small town near Očová, and I could not only see these fine dresses being made and worn on numerous occasions as I grew up, but I also learnt how to do the embroidery. I have to admit though that my attempts were nowhere near the exquisite work pictured above.

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