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Talabaya’s Appeal Crosses Continents

Expressing and being yourself, luxury materials, European details and high quality finishing are the essence of this label.

Mirka Talavašková founded Talabaya to help provide women with the freedom to make creative decisions that help accentuate their personalities. The award-winning Czech fashion designer, who has won Top Style Designer and was nominated for the Czech Grand Design Award, allows clients to highlight their characters by combining her pieces with their own wardrobe staples. Focusing on luxury materials, European details and fault-free finishing, Talavašková has ensured Talabaya, which was created due to her friend moving to Saudi Arabia, resonates with Arabian women.

We get comfy with the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design graduate, who discloses why she thinks modest clothing isn’t only for Muslims. Talavašková, part of the new generation of fashion designers in Prague, also talks about the abaya’s charm and timeless appeal, as well as why fashion and culture are connected.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Creativity and fashion have been in my life since childhood. After graduating in Fashion Design at the renowned Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, I gained priceless experience at École Supérieure des Arts Appliqués Duperré and at Atelier du Sartel in Paris. This is probably when I fell for the international fashion scene. My designs aim to give every woman the freedom to take creative decisions that accentuate her personality, with an assurance of high quality finishing and luxury materials.

How would you describe the fashion ‘era’ we currently inhabit?
Nowadays, fashion is about the personality of its owner. Each brand is profiling itself; it creates its style and focuses on the style of its clients. As a designer, I follow the development worldwide, but I do not surrender to the pressure to fall within a certain category or the current trend. On the contrary, I encourage all my clients to understand what suits them best. We can wear anything as long as it makes us feel good.

Modest fashion has been described as one of the most important trends of our decade. You are based out of Europe, have you witnessed this trend grow? Where do you think it will go?
I believe we have witnessed a lot of interest, or curiosity, about modest fashion globally. The most renowned brands have created luxurious abayas. Headscarves (as well as other head covers) have featured in fashion collections over the past years. There is also a growing diversity in the fashion industry itself, where we see more and more modest fashion designers and their collections in mainstream fashion. Diversity is always good.

I believe fashion is part of being able to express yourself, and this diversity allows women to be themselves. It allows them to make fashion choices that correspond to their personal preferences, be it religious or not. Modest for me does not mean only Muslim, though recently it has been associated with the Muslim culture mostly, it is a preference, a choice.

Tell us a bit about Talabaya. How did it come about?
I started working on this project when a friend contacted me ahead of her move to Saudi Arabia. While working with her, I developed a passion for a fusion of these two cultures in my fashion. I watched her travelling around the Gulf region while wearing my creations and imagined a collection that combines the elegance of Arab women and luxury materials with European details. The name itself combines part of my name with abaya, a luxurious but modest fashion garment that has charmed the fashion industry, including myself.

Who is your favorite contemporary fashion designer (well-known or up and coming)? Who are the designers / brands that inspire you?
I have a lot of favourite designers. It is impossible for me to name one since there are outstanding collections from different designers every season. Generally speaking, I like New York designers as they tend to prefer a minimalist urban look. I also take inspiration from the 90s and the beginning of 2000s. That era was marked by fashion revolts against the established trends, which resulted in wonderful waves in full fashion range, from minimalism to extravagance.  

 Are fashion and culture connected? How so?
Absolutely, fashion is a matter of culture, place and time. Clothes express the culture of the personality wearing them. Through fashion, we communicate who we are and what our stand is. Clothes are an indicator of where the person comes from; we can judge their intelligence, position, profession as well as their temperament.

At a time of ‘fast fashion’, modest fashion seems to counterbalance the act and be less seasonal, more timeless. Do you embrace current trends? How do you stay relevant?
My collection aims to provide versatile, sleek elegance. I also prefer timeless models. I believe that with my designs, the accessories used can reflect the current trends or the personal style of the woman wearing them. This is probably why I enjoy modest fashion; abayas are also timeless and the combination with different accessories makes a different style every day. So yes, it could be seen as a counterbalance to fast fashion. Maybe this is also one of the reasons why there is so much interest in modest fashion. Fast fashion is over because we understand that we cannot continue with this speed if we want to preserve this planet.

What is your creation process like?
I collect inspiration from different sources. I have a large dashboard in my atelier with pictures of interesting designs, my previous work, art pieces, pictures from different cultures, and I really love different cultures, pieces of luxurious fabrics, etc. I need to look around, I watch inspirational people, movies, listen to music... I usually need to know the material that I will be using, and then it comes all quite easily.

What is your favourite piece from your last collection?
I am very fond of all the designs that I have brought to Dubai, to be honest. I am really excited that I have managed to create a full collection, as the time to prepare for this event was extremely tight. But if I had to pick one piece, I would probably choose the wide striped Talabaya, which combines a special collar shirt top that is suitable for different pieces of jewellery, as well as ribbons and female ties, with an abaya-style dress. I find this model very versatile, timeless and also refreshing.

Jason Evert said, “A modest woman is like a candle, she’s mysterious, illuminating and radiates her true inner beauty.” Is there anything you would like to add?
I would like to invite you to watch the video that we have prepared for this event. I see a woman as a very strong individual. Fragility is in the expression of her feminine charm, but inner strength is in her core.

What is your motto in life?
I am a very optimistic person, and many times I have overcome difficult times thanks to my motto: 'The darkest hour comes just before the sunrise.' Another personal motto I follow is: 'There are no problems in life. There are opportunities.' - Sadhguru

Why do you think Dubai is the perfect place for the revolutionary Pret-A-Cover Buyers Lane?
Dubai is an interesting place; it really combines the Arabian tradition with modernity. I see Pret-a-Cover Buyers Lane as a very progressive event; it is a fashion event that brings high fashion and modest fashion to ordinary people, customers. Dubai does that in other areas, I think: Dubai makes extraordinary things accessible. Maybe this is why Dubai is a great place for such a project.  

Talabaya will be participating in the Pret-A-Cover Buyers Lane, the leading revolutionary event dedicated to modest fashion. The event is taking place at Dubai, City Walk 2, from March 28 to April 2. To RSVP, click here:

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