My name is Zsófia Törő and I’m a designer from Hungary, currently based in London. Moving to London changed my perspective and made me realise how disconnected my generation is - including myself - from our Hungarian traditions and heritage. For me personally this relates to my Hungarian traditions, culture and folk arts.
My mother’s family comes from Transylvania, a region in Romania where Hungarians live as a minority. Therefore it has been particularly important for them to cherish and pass on their traditions from one generation to another, as my mother did to me. However growing up in Hungary, society demands you to follow a mass culture heavily diluted by globalisation. It means that expressing a different kind of identity, through whatever medium, ostracises you from your peers. Growing up you acknowledge Hungarian traditions, as they are part of a general national identity, but you don't have roots or an authentic connection to them, leaving you with a deficient national identity.
This garment that I designed is about my relationship with my own Hungarian identity. Coming from a strong traditional background but not wanting to stand out as a child, I distanced myself from anything that would be considered traditional, causing inner conflict and self-denial. I approached this project by deconstructing and putting these emotions into a form. The craftsmanship of Hungarian folk dressing is an ancient and rich art form that has been passed from grandmother to mother to daughter. Following this idea of ‘passing down’ traditions, I looked into the concept of hope chests. It is an intricately decorated chest that included a wedding gown and other essentials, which a bride would bring to her married life. These were hand carved by the bride’s family with love and affection and represented not only her cultural identity but her family’s as well. Traditional Hungarian clothing works in a similar way; the smallest details in the use of colour, motifs, shapes and fabrics, told the story of where one came from, and they defined the wearer as an individual and as a part of the community. As the hope chest lost its need, the connection to the history and traditions of your own family got lost with it too. Today there isn’t anyone to pass down the knowledge to the upcoming generation and the tradition slowly disappears with our grandmothers. As a young designer I feel the responsibility and motivation to carry on these traditions in my own way and raise awareness of their importance. The reason this project and starting a conversation around the issue is important to me, is because I believe that being able to connect with your own cultural identity and feeling proud of where you come from can help you feel complete as an individual.
Photographer -Sebestyén Bruckner
Model - Bella Rácz
Designer - Zsófia Törő