Good (Even) if Reversed

authors DIORALOP
written by Ivan Dorotić

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There are words and titles that are rich, recognizable, memorable and meaningful, and thus are a good signifier of the thing they represent. These criteria are fully met by the name DIORALOP, which stands for the designer duo of a fashion designer Andreja Bistričić, and an architect-to-be Maja Merlić.


The domestic audience who knows the fashion scene understands this word as a creative collaboration, which carefully and powerfully creates a unique oeuvre; whose scope and context greatly exceed the ephemerality, shallowness and banality of what is, in the wider media context, today called the Croatian fashion scene. Contrary to those who are too familiar with the Croatian fashion scene, I hardly have experience in evaluating the domestic fashion scene, and am reduced to the role of a passive bystander who merely observes. However, it is precisely observation which is the first step towards knowledge and conclusions which finally lead to the formation of a sincere judgment. The repetitive use of the word observation is intentional since, despite the passiveness of the meaning of the word and the action this word signifies, observation is a component part of the creative process of the DIORALOP duo. Their process of creation, and the essence of their brand, begins with destruction, i.e. experimental, intentional and encouraged reactions to the blindly-taken Polaroid photographs. In the short period after the Polaroid photograph has been shot, more precisely when the emulsion has been exposed to the light, the chemicals are activated, and the process of developing the photograph and its final image begins. This time period, which can be measured in seconds, when the photograph is being developed and fixated, is the opportunity for a reaction, a shift, a change, a provocation, or any other kind of influence of this chemical process. This short time interval, and everything which is possible within the interval, mark the beginning of the development of the idea and the topic, which ultimately result in shirts, dresses, tunics, trousers or suits of the DIORALOP brand. Scorching, creasing, exposure to the heat, cold and strong light are just some of the reactions that the authors apply to the just taken Polaroid photographs, which result in unpredictable range of colours, visual modulations, and art experiments. The question arises: Where is observation? The answer lies in the experimental character of the creation, in the continuous exploration of new methods and actions that the authors apply; they only observe and examine the reactions of the chemicals, explore the unknown, and wait for the results, in no way aiming for, or intentionally creating a pattern, a shape or a form(ula). All that occurs spontaneously, accidentally or suddenly in the final forms, becomes material for further steps. The shapes which occur on the Polaroid photographs as a result of this process are translated into digital form, and finalized in abstract prints applied to the fabric. And thus the material for their wearable and slightly androgynous clothing items is created, tailored forms from the collections that DIORALOP has been producing for seven seasons.


And now, back to the name of DIORALOP. This eight-letter word boldly plays with the top names of the industry; the first four letters represent the most important fashion names of all times. At the same time, the word DIORALOP is difficult to pronounce, it is confusing, and is excitingly creating the linguistic uncertainty of the English pronunciation, hiding the very simple reason of the selection of the name in the backward writing of the word Polaroid. Next to the transparent communication of the basic element, the fundamental material responsible for the oeuvre and the collection of the DIORALOP brand, the selection of the reversed name can suggest the steps of the creation; the authors begin the creation process with the unexpected, the new and the surprising, instead of with a desired, predetermined, controlled and defined concept, thus insinuating the reverse character of their work.


While they are talking about their work methods, and the triggers that provide them with creative inspiration, Bistričić and Merlić emphasize that their inspiration does not need to have reasons, and that it can be caused by certain potentiated sources which can be distant, perhaps unclear even to them. Thus explaining their creative process, the authors also indicate how we can become the observers of our own forms of creation, of the designer process and the form of creation, in this way allowing ourselves to be surprised by our own work of art, which provides the final result with the inevitable dose of surprise, and in the spirit of a relaxed approach to work as a fulfilment of personal ambition, with the important dosage of fun, as well. The previous work of the authors, Andreja’s more feminine and almost always monochromatic fashion and designer career, and Maja’s architectural education and minimalistic views and preferences, next to the given standards of the medium they are working with, in this collaboration results with a specific, peculiar, dynamic, and to an extent unified, but, I believe, never boring, fashion expression. Their respective multidisciplinary qualities, and the richness of their creative flow, the authors also invest in the engaged collaboration with numerous authors, thus clearly indicating that they are not interested in fashion which would exclude experimentation and study of compatible practices and new possibilities. Their cooperation with the designer group Manufakturist explored the overlap between fashion and product design, the coexistence of objects, clothes, and the space in the Behide project. The interior of their recently opened small shop in Stara Vlaška Street, designed by Maja Merlić, was enriched by the collaboration with dva tri brand, the duo whose industrial objects blended into a simplified space of concrete walls, and the spread loft lighting mostly dominated by disintegrated Polaroid prints on hanged clothes.


The aim of the young designer duo DIORALOP to collaborate is most transparent in the continuous engagement of the photographer Sanja Bistričić, who has become an unavoidable factor in the creation of their visual identity. With her original and authentic photographs of analogous atmosphere, this young photographer helped DIORALOP create a distinguished, studious, different, and visually unique character, which successfully launched them in heights of our fashion scene.