After years under the tyrannical Ceausescu regime — in which basic freedoms and creativity were brutally repressed — Romania is now in its adolescent years of capitalism, and at the crucial age for development of fashion. "Fashion in Romania is fresh and I can compare it with a newborn — we are starting to discover things and grow," says Romanian designer Lana Dumitru. "But I can compare it with an old man as well — everything is going really slow."
However, Lana's success as an innovative designer is anything but sluggish. Even though she's still a student at the Design Institute of Italy, she has already become internationally recognized for her collections that fuse camouflage, technology, and old-world traditions together.
Her graduation collection at the Bucharest Institute of Art tracked the evolution of women, much through the animalistic and technological interpretations of the female body. In many of the pieces, Lana did not settle for the gimmicks of fancy screen-printing: She altered the proportions of the fabric to give a three-dimensional form to the image portrayed.
For example, one reptilian-inspired dress featured two snakeheads as shoulder pads. Other pieces left nothing to the imagination, such as the "naked dress" which portrayed a life size, frescoed body of renaissance proportions. Fast forward to the era of the technologically-savvy female: The designer introduced the "Facebook Dress" — a short, sleeveless dress featuring the Facebook profile page of the designer herself.
Lana then developed a more wearable line called "Romanian Apparel," which saw pieces that sold out almost instantly. By pixilating traditional Romanian patterns into Tetris-like blocks, she made styles once designated for a generation of grandmothers more desirable for a younger crowd.
In her latest collection, W/S, Lana still takes the comically suggestive attitude towards the female form — everyday objects reflect the female reproductive system. Lana could easily convert her W/S collection into streetwear, a would-be fashion feat for Romania as well as wearable technological design. It's the art of camouflage without blending in — and that is exactly what is getting Lana noticed.