For her final collection, Fashion Print Designer Izabella Bilinska has fabricated her heritage into a tapestry of Polish culture to create ‘a personal archive of modernised Polish History.’ Provoked by the country’s political disparity, Bilinska fuses the historic and the contemporary, highlighting the juxtaposition between the two within a political framework. Motivated by ‘Strakj Kobiet’, the second largest protest march since the fall of communism, which grew from tensions that erupted after the newly elected Polish President enacted controversial abortion laws in October 2020, stripping women of their human rights and free will. ‘I wish to enlighten as well as oppose archaic government policies that tarnish the modern way of life for Polish citizens,’ she explains.

During a pilgrimage to her generational home, Wargowo in Poland, Bilinksa collected various relics and textiles from throughout the house and set about weaving her metaphorical tapestry. Delving deep into family photographs and anecdotal memories drew her to Zakopane – a resort town in the south of Poland – and its local settlers. Bilinska deconstructed their traditional costume working in a documentative manner, adhering carefully to the corsetry for womenswear and felted trousers for men. The outcome of such introspective, social genealogy is a lens into contemporary Polish culture. Shapewear shorts sit under padded leather biker jackets in primary colors; patchwork trousers are worn with chainmail bras and oxblood mules; an asymmetric cowhide skirt, wicker boots and aprons, contour rompers, and the ‘Morsie Oko’ corset (named after Poland’s largest lake), are all fit for a night in Krakow’s darkest underground clubs, while echoing national traditions that seem worlds away.

Following graduation, Izabella Bilinska hopes to travel with the intention to research and find inspiration for further projects that will eventually drive her towards founding her own brand.

Ellie June Goodman