The Unique Client project perceives humans as unique physical and psychological beings

Published June 6, 2022

The Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague (UMPRUM) will once again be presenting at Milan Design Week 2022.

Unique Client caters to those who are not lucky enough to fit into standard ready-to-wear clothing. It draws attention not only to the specific needs of many people but also to the neglect of their needs in an otherwise very consumerist world. Costume designer Simona Rybáková got the idea to address this issue with students of the UMPRUM’s Fashion and Footwear Design Studio based on her own experience with a young man, Marek, who was unable to find a suit that fit because of his disability.

“During the semester-long course, we focused on the physical side of the human body – its physicality, communication, and the psychology of working with a client. The physical aspect of the body as the primary point of the project was explored in various depths and together with well-formulated questions became the basis for the final project – a collection of garments for a specific client. We placed special emphasis on the perception of bodies that have their own physical peculiarities, deformations, or anomalies, either congenital or caused by injury or poor lifestyle, which today’s clothing production (both individual and ready-to-wear) does not usually have in its “viewfinder““, says Simona Rybáková, the then head of the studio.

The result of their work was not only clothes for Marek’s wardrobe, but also collections for other clients who are dealing with a similar problem. The fashion designers not only offered functional and timeless clothes but also helped the self-expression or the fulfillment of dreams of the people concerned. The results of the project were documented by the Photography II studio under the direction of Štěpánky Stein and Václav Jirásek. The young photographers created a set of portraits of the clients themselves in various settings. Thus outlining a different view of fashion photography and at the same time managing to get under the surface of this very sensitive phenomenon.

For the Milan presentation, a very specific installation was prepared in a consecrated chapel in the Alcova premises. It will offer both a selection of individual models and present photographs by students of the Photography Studio II. The limited possibilities for installation in a listed building were handled by students of the Product Design Studio Karolína Vintrová, Mikuláš Procházka, and Jan Lechner. The designers make the most out of the space using the original architectural layout of the chapel. Above the site of the former altar, they fixed a large mobile on which they hung selected models. In addition, they placed large-format lightboxes with selected photographs in the space, and the central space was occupied by a counter with a giant-sized author’s book detailing the individual collections and their clients. An important installation element is a tubular structure that follows the morphology of the church building and allows for the attachment of individual objects.

Although the project has been on display for a short time as part of a student showcase, it has attracted a great response from the general and professional public. Now it has the opportunity to present itself further, at the most authoritative place, Milan Design Week.

Concept: Simona Rybáková.
Management of the project: Michal Froněk, Václav Jirásek, Jan Němeček, Vojtěch Novotný, Simona Rybáková, Štěpánka Stein.
Collection authors: 
Aleš Hnátek, Tereza Chytilová, Valerie Jurčíková, Barbora Kotěšovcová, Kristýna Lovasová, Yuval de Picciotto, Natálie Pospišilíková, Magdalena Rajnohová, Anna Ryšánková, Júlia Sadloňová, Jan Smejkal, Hana Valtová, Jaroslav Vích, Valerie Vrbová.
Authors of the photographs: Jakub Delibalta, Lukáš Hlavín, Alžběta Chrudimská, Ondřej Kubeš, JuriiLadutko, Viktorie Macánová, Samuel Petráš, Kateřina Sýsová, Miriam Pružincová, Adéla Zlámalová, Barbora Žentelová, Šimona Němečková, Arina Syrik, Deborah Menšlová, Barbora Hostašová.
Graphic design: Jakub Novotný.
Architectural design of the exhibition: Jan Lechner, Mikuláš Procházka, and Karolína Vintrová.
Production: Michaela Kaplánková.