Today, in line with our Bohemian Summer I want you to meet a compatriot of mine - an extraordinary and dazzling bohemian clothes designer.
Her name is Elena Todorovska and her signature brand is called Nalini
I was bedazzled and enchanted by her gorgeous creations when I was first introduced to her clothing line - a feeling that has grown in intensity over the years and I hope I can transfer the same feeling to you through this interview so you can experience the Nalini magic yourself.
Who is Elena privately and professionally?
Elena is a 34 year old woman, happily married with two children - Danaya (6) and Nathanail (2), who is constantly searching for the perfect balance between the role of a mother, wife, journalist (my day job) and designing. I constantly dream about the markets in India, Mexico and Marocco - their colors, fabric and scents.
I don't have a formal fashion education, but the good taste, art and handwork have always been present with the past generations of my family. We all carry with us the energy of our ancestors, and I do too.
How did the Nalini story begin?
A few years before I opened my online shop, the desire to make clothes started sparkling. I love everything handmade: knitting, sewing, embroidery, hand-dying fabric. In 2012 I finally plucked up the courage and made my first photo - shoot with my friends Andrijana & Dimitar and I opened up to the world. My clothes started selling and I went on one of the most inspiring trips to the most magical country - Marocco.
For a whole month my husband and I wandered throughout the country and that was the realization of my long time dream. I can still sense and feel the energy of this country, its bewitching scents, colors and landscapes which are reflected through my design process.
Your creations depict freedom, bohemianism, timelessness. What fashion era do you feel close and where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?
Designing is a spiritual food for me. The search for fabric, laces, ribbons, buttons and bells is an enormous adventure for me - equivalent to looking for hidden treasure. I love Moroccan carpets, hand-woven fabric, white embroidery on Edwardian era dresses, Indian hand-block printed cotton, old silk Indian saris. My collections are deeply rooted in travels and I have this deep admiration for the nomadic aesthetic. I love handmade things and I incorporate a lot of hand knitting, block printing, weaving and embroidery into my designs. These clothes may not be easy to produce, but they feel richer for it. For me they are valued possessions, a true heirloom pieces.
I like things to feel easy, natural and comfortable. I love patterns and soft colors and white. I love softness and movement. I am addicted to beautiful textiles and vintage. I'm always inspired by the romantic designs from the 70s, soft feminine fabrics and loose bohemian garments.
According to you, who is the Nalini girl?
The Nalini girl is creative, free-minded and open-spirited, boldly experimenting with fabrics and materials and she is not afraid to combine several layers of clothing. She does not follow current fashion trends; she wears soft and natural clothing, delicate dresses with a touch of romanticism. She is not overburdened with dressing up and does not think a lot about it.
What fabrics do you use most often in your work and what else do you use while designing?
Out of fabrics, the cotton gauze is extremely inspiring for me. It is natural and so soft when put on skin. It is noble and lets you play with it the way you want. Sometimes I put it in the spotlight, sometimes I use it in the background - as a backdrop. If I want to enrich it, I just add a cotton knit or hand printed Indian cotton.
I especially care about how things are made. For me, the positive energy, enjoyment and pure love while making them is very important. I believe that a piece holds the energy of its makers and it spreads. In today's world of mass consumerism and cheap items without soul, it's highly important to support this 'maker's movement'. Something that is made with love and care is very special; it has a bit of soul.
Between the most wanted pieces in your Etsy shop are the Bohemian bridal dresses? Are people interested in them and what is the feedback you receive from them?
These dresses are the most wanted in my shop, especially the Bohemian gauzy maxi dress with vintage laces all over and mesh sleeves. This dress is also the most complicated design in my shop. It's made of 40 different pieces and it takes many long hours to be made. But in the end, you get a versatile dress with a wonderful fit that slims the figure.
As far as feedback is concerned - it just warms my soul every time I read how people are happy to discover my shop, how much they like the softness of the fabric, the details; the perfect fit of the dress since that is one of the pieces they are going to cherish for a lifetime; the appreciation that their dress is made with utmost care and love - that is the biggest compliment for me!
Plans for the future? Where do you see your brand on the fashion scene in the future?
I have been dreaming for a workshop of mine for a couple of years now and for more free time to make the designs swirling in my head come to life. This past winter I went on a hand weaving course and I have been deeply in love in this magical and painstakingly beautiful process.
I'm deeply amazed by the talent of the weavers with whom I've worked on designing on my first hand loom textile. These people are one of the last weavers in my country that still keep alive this traditional craft, which is an important part of our heritage. I feel a deep admiration for their hours and hours of long work on old wooden handlooms.
Thank you Elena for making our Bohemian Summer richer and we wish you tons of success in the future!