March 22, 2009

The Dominant Strength of Serbia's Dejan Despotović

Back in the early 90’s I lived and worked in a Balkan country for 4 consecutive years, after which I was promoted to direct activities throughout the entire region for another ten. During this period, I fell in love with the Balkans and its cultures, cuisines, genres of folk music, histories, and languages.

Home to Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and Muslims, as well as to variations of Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, the Balkan peninsula is a kaleidoscope of ethno-linguistic diversity. So, what countries constitute the Balkans?

Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Yugoslavia, which has since become Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, (disputed) Kosovo, Slovenia, and Serbia. All have either joined or are in the process of acceding to the European Union.

One common thread that ties these nations together is the domination of the Ottoman Empire, which endured up to six centuries for some countries, diffusing Turkish culture, cuisine, rhythms, religion, and language throughout the region. In fact, the term Balkan is a Turkish word that means “a chain of wooded mountains.”

One of the most fascinating Balkan countries is actually one that has received quite a bum rap in recent years: Република Србија or the Republic of Serbia. Most Serbs are Orthodox Christians; they write with the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet ; and, when they see you, the say "Zdravo, kako ste?!"

Today I would like to introduce you to Dejan Despotović from Serbia—a 22-year-old designer who was born and grew up in Belgrade where he lives today.

As a student of Belgrade’s textile high school, Dejan was already designing for hair fairs and television shows, winning prizes like the Silver Doe Award at the Belgrade Fashion Fair. After graduation, he continued his studies of textiles and apparel design at the College of Design, Textiles, and Management in Belgrade.

Dejan launched his first individual collection at the age of 20 in both Berlin and his hometown, Belgrade. For the following two years, he was nominated best young designer by Pantene Beauty Awards, taking 1st prize for young designer at the Nokia Awards Fashion Selection and the Black & White competition at Belgrade Fashion Week.

Dejan is currently a stylist for the Serbian edition of Elle Magazine. He recently presented his first menswear collection, which was inspired by stylized religious symbolism, the Gothic period, and the music of Belgian composer, Wim Mertens.

The dominant theme in Dejan’s men’s line is “strength.” He explains that this menswear collection is for “strong men—men with a strong sense of self and strong individualism.”

Basing the collection on clean simple forms and strange details, Dejan writes, “On my jackets, for example, you can see golden flies. I also love scarves and knitwear—in upcoming collections, there will be more of them for sure. The silhouettes are slim."
Photo top right Skadarlija, Belgrade, by Zoran Životić Public Domain Wikipedia.

Photographer: Marko Sovilj
Model: Florian Pessenteiner @ Larapixie Talent Agency
Hair/make up: Dragan Vurdelja
Styling: Dejan Despotović @ Larapixie Talent Agency
Clothes: Dejan Despotović

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