A beautiful symbol of Bulgaria touches the philosophy of Japan - EU・ジャパンフェスト日本委員会

A beautiful symbol of Bulgaria touches the philosophy of Japan

Neli Mitewa|Fashion designer, curator, artistic director, "IVAN ASEN 22 FOUNDATION"

The rose, one of the most beautiful symbols of Bulgaria, was not only the inspiration for 30 Bulgarian designers and a Japanese fashion student to create outstanding fashion and jewelry works for a fashion show in Japan. It also served as a visual link, touching the philosophy of Japan to unleash the designers’ imagination.

Ambassador, Hagoromo president, curator and models ©︎ Len Ishimaru

Strengthening the relationship between Japan and Bulgaria, the intertwining of their traditional and contemporary culture through design has been our aim since our first joint project between Bulgarian and Japanese designers and artists, “+7 HOURS” in 2019. Its international success has proven how creatives of different cultures can enrich each other through collaboration and achieve innovative results.

Our new project “A rose is a rose, is a rose, is a rose” in partnership with the Bulgarian Embassy in Japan and Hagoromo University for International Studies in Osaka, enchanted the Japanese and international audience within the framework of the first “Bulgarian Art and Fashion Days in Japan” on May 12, 2023 at the Residence of the Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria in Tokyo. Bulgarian fashion designers Georgi Florov, Anelia Antova, Maya Karanesheva, Milena Nacheva, Slavina Petrova, Yuliana Yankova, Polina Sotirova, Dilyana Cholakova, Inna Gabrovska, the labels Ham&Eggs, Prototype 23, nelmit, YOD by Yana Dvoretska, Dinka Kasabova DK, Diliana Ivanova-YEDA, EUGENIO, Vintage Sofia, M.Point, OXN, the talented graduating New Bulgarian University students Eli Nenkovska, Militsa Milanova, Kristina Ljubenova, Edzhe Dervish and Nicole Hagedorn developed designer clothes especially for the event. The jewelry was the work of Velislava Bozhinova, Boryana Dankova, Katya Lazarova, Kalina Filcheva and KENNA Jewelry. Actress Irmena Chichikova paraded in a show together with Japanese, Bulgarian and international models, and the audience from the highest diplomatic and political circles was delighted with the creations of the Bulgarian authors. Guests included representatives of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Kogi, the Secretary General of EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee, as well as our new partners from Hagoromo University of International Studies in Osaka – the President Dr. Nakagawa, Prof. Mitsumatsu and our Japanese guest designer: Rin Fukami and her family. For the Japanese student, her participation in a professional fashion show was an unvaluable experience and her first step into the fashion world.

Pop-up store 1 ©︎ Neli Mitewa

The rose, an iconic symbol of Bulgaria, was given a fresh, contemporary interpretation by the designers. Some of them have been inspired by its delicate and multilayered shape, some chose its red, pink, white colors or its fine petals, leaves or even its thorns as starting point for designing prints, forms and silhouettes. Others took a philosophical approach looking at its different states, starting from blossoming to fading, to unveil its beauty in transience: It is this vanishing beauty who brings it closer to the Japanese aesthetic of the beautiful in all its dimensions, in depth and past, in content beyond the outer shell.
A day later, on May 13, the designers’ clothes and jewelry presented in the show could be viewed and tried on during a pop-up store held at Pachetart Gallery in Tokyo, where they found their first customers in Japan.

An important part of the project’s program was an educational project at Hagoromo University of International Studies in Osaka, with which our designers’ platform IVAN ASEN 22 established a fruitful partnership. At an exciting meeting with 100 students from Hagoromo, I gave a lecture on the concept of creating a fashion collection, and Irmena Chichikova made a presentation with examples of her collaborations with IVAN ASEN 22, the designers’ works and her incarnations with them. We were warmly welcomed by Mr. Akio Shimizu, Director of the Center for Student Development, the fashion design professor Ms. Sawako Mitsumatsu, who introduced us to her students, and Ms. Dawn Springer who translated our lectures from English into Japanese. Rin Fukami, the Japanese student from Hagoromo University whose fashion outfit was presented during the show at the Residence alongside the works of Bulgarian designers, shared her exciting experience during the Q&A session at the university.

We received fantastic feedback from the students, expressed by questions about the taught matter, as well as about Bulgarian culture and design. At a reception at the President’s office, me and Irmena were able to express our deep gratitude for this mutual exchange of know-how and deepened friendship helping both our cultures to get closer.

Fashion show ©︎ Len Ishimaru

At the end of our meeting, we were shown the University’s film production studio which we were offered to use for future collaborative projects.

Our partners from Hagoromo University expressed their firm interest to continue our collaboration in near future, and to start to think about a common project in relation with the forthcoming EXPO 2025 in Osaka.