Interviewed in the Croatian National Theatre - zagreb 9 July 2013
Dženisa Pecotić is a costume designer who usually works for the Zagreb Croatian National Theatre, but also other institutional theatres and some independent production projects. As a costume and fashion designer she often exhibits her work in galleries and museums, but has also designed uniforms for the state. Although a uniform is visual communication within an ideology, she does not consider it anti-fashion.
Costume design questions the very concept of the body and an item of clothing, as well as their interaction and the functionality of the clothes in dance movements or the theatrical gestures of singers. Sometimes, in the equalization of art and contemporary life, the body predicts the costume, or the body is ‘dressed’ in light emitted or projected onto it in the manner of light and video installations. The costume designer also ‘designs time’, a moment in the past: often interpreting and making historical costumes more contemporary.
ORIS: We cannot disregard the social influence of fashion, sometimes having an avant-garde and anticipatory role. Like, for example, Emilia Flöge, Klimt’s friend, who realized a certain female liberation in her life form and the creation of her clothes, removing herself from rigid social rules that were reflected, naturally, also in fashion rules.
Pecotić: Let me explain something right away. I try to avoid the term fashion whenever I can, because fashion for me is a general term. Fashion is everything, a way of life we impose on ourselves and others. So, in our case I would like to limit this to the term clothing. Let’s go back to the Secession and this liberation from the restrictions of clothing. Flöge was certainly infinitely important at that moment; she could make that initial impulse that started an avalanche of changes. Remember Sonia Delaunay, the Russian constructivists (Lyubov Popova, Warwara Stepanova, Alexandra Exter) and, naturally, Coco Channel. Before them, amongst others, was also Paul Poiret, as well as Erté, whom I believe to be extremely important, not only in designing everyday clothes but also in the theatre. He designed beautiful costumes. Speaking of theatrical costumes influencing history, remember the Russian Ballet in Paris between 1908 and 1929, where Djagilijev gathered artists like Picasso and Leon Bakst. I am glad that we are able to see those ballets in their original version.