Dioralop is an exciting new brand driven by Croatian duo Andreja Bistričić and Maja Merlić, with an aesthetic that combines androgynous silhouettes with expert textile manipulation. Their innovative Polaroid inspired collections are created with intentional spills of chemicals and exposed to different temperatures to create a unique look. This technique forms distinctive patterns to create the contemporary designs, which are structured in fluid and effortless silhouettes. Their clean, minimal cuts are influenced by Maja’s background in architecture, whilst the creative and playful colour experimentation comes from Andreja’s experience in art, design and textiles.
The SS14 collection is inspired by the socialist architecture of former Yugoslavia in the area around Zagreb. Their minimalist and androgynous cuts play a distinct role in their designs, allowing them to reflect different elements of both sexes, creating juxtaposition with the feminine colour palette, which primarily consists of petroleum green and purple. At The Glass Pineapple, we are big fans of new designers using innovative techniques and fresh perspectives and so we caught up with this exciting duo to discuss their design talent and their label.
Could you tell us a bit more about your backgrounds and how you both met?
Andreja obtained degree at Faculty of Textile and Technology in Zagreb/Croatia and graduated from Central St. Martins College of Art and Design in 2009 specialising in womenswear, whilst interning at the Alexander McQueen studio. Maja is an architect, with strong sense of texture and style. The two of us met at a wedding party and we didn’t know anything about each other. Andreja had a brand of her own then and it was not until two months later that Maja realised that she was actually talking to one of her favourite designers whose clothes she was already buying! We met again at Andreja’s showroom where Maja came to buy a dress and we started talking about fashion, art, and architecture and eventually became friends. At that time Maja was designing jewellery based on Polaroid pictures with which Andreja instantly fell in love with and wanted to use as fabric prints. Everything else happened spontaneously and we decided to order 2 meters of fabric, just a sample to see how it looked. It worked perfectly and the rest is history.
What was your journey between graduating and starting your own label – what did you do and where did you get your work experience?
Andreja did an internship at Alexander McQueen and the decided to return to Croatia where she started her own brand. She did two ANDREJA BISTRICIC collections and presented them at Croatian fashion week before she met Maja who is actually still studying architecture in Zagreb.
What do you think makes you stand out in such a competitive market?
The story behind the prints is unique and interesting. We always use a distinctive and unseen colour spectrum, which tends to intrigue people.
You’re inspired by Polaroid pictures, what is it about this form of photography that you like?
Using the technique of creative deconstruction of Polaroids you get completely new, unseen colors and patterns. Trying to achieve as much as possible (with) the abstract images is very experimental and fun – and it is always sort of a surprise because we are never really sure what we will get. The Polaroids are scanned in high resolution and then digitally printed on a fabric in Scotland.
By exposing chemicals to different temperatures you create unique patterns, is this something that will be consistent throughout your collections?
Playing with color is definitely an intentional signature with our collections, as we think this technique has inexhaustible number of the most unpredictable color combinations. The name of our brand is DIORALOP (Polaroid backwards) for a reason…
You have backgrounds in architecture and fashion design, do you think this gives you an edge to other designers?
It is definitely a good thing. It enables Maja to visualise 3D models and understand patterns. She is also really well organised and business oriented which is a perfect match with Andreja’s creativity and world outlook.
Androgyny plays an important role in your SS14 collection; do you think it was important to include more structured cuts and silhouettes to balance with your feminine colour palette and prints?
Yes, for us that was important, we decided to do that and it seems like a right choice.
You use fabrics like heavy cotton panama and light silk organza to reflect both sexes, is this something that you incorporate into your own wardrobes?
Definitely, we always wear our designs.
Which contemporary designers do you admire most?
Rei Kawakubo, Heikki Salonen, Henrik Vibskov, Christopher Shannon…
You were awarded the prestigious Best Young Designers ELLE Magazine Style Award in 2012, which was a fantastic achievement. What are the other highlights of your career so far?
The opportunity to present our SS14 collection in the Fashion Scout Paris Showroom this year meant that we learned a lot and met fantastic people. We are really thankful for that. Being part of the International Fashion Showcase at London Fashion Week – where we represented Croatia – was also a highlight.
What kind of woman do you see wearing DIORALOP?
Dioralop designs are for a person who is uncompromising, aware and individual.
You have travelled a lot through your work, does this help to inspire you further and are there any particular places that have made a real impact on your work?
Andreja lived London for six years, so London, with all its subcultures, is definitely the most important and inspiring city for us. Also, Copenhagen and Antwerp were really key – the clean and well-designed architecture is very appealing.
Interview by Lauren Estill