The revival of history and its adaptation to contemporary needs is the daily routine of distinguished Lithuanian designers Ieva Ševiakovaitė and Jolanta Rimkutė
Ever since the first appearance of the LT identity brand ten years ago, the two women have been in quest of the Lithuanian national identity in their works, using our national legacy as a source of inspiration.
The dawn of independence as a source of inspiration
After 15 years of joint professional experience, this year, the duo of accomplished designers has a special occasion to celebrate – they opened their brand new studio-shop in the Old Town of Vilnius, the Užupis Art Incubator. Among other things, the new studio also functions as a creative workshop and witnesses the birth of new symbols of Lithuanian identity.
In ten years, Ieva and Jolanta have designed 8 high-caliber collections, both clothing and other home décor items, radiating Lithuanian national identity, under the flag of the LT identity project and in collaboration with outstanding Lithuanian graphic designers, photographers, and ceramicists.
First and foremost, the skilled designers refer to their fame-bringing project as the search for self-identity.
“In this way, we create ourselves – a Lithuanian of a new identity whose pockets have enough place for both reverence to the past and a brave step towards the future,” the artists elaborate on the idea of the project.
The designers trace back their understanding of the value of nationality and the need for greater attention to it to their teen years. The search for self-identity got even more intense in 1990, when Lithuania was in the midst of its struggle for independence. Though at that time Ieva and Jolanta were only 17, the national revival movement made a tremendous impact on the artists’ future works.
Lithuania is famous for more than Basketball and Beautiful Women only
The designers’ determination to plunge into the fashion world through the prism of Lithuanian hood was finally and irrevocably shaped as early as their first traineeship in Paris. Known as the capital of fashion, Paris opened its doors to the talented students after their collection Nocturne received the Grand Prix – the Golden Button award – in the international fashion festival In VOGUE Vilnius 97. Thy were then given an opportunity to display their collection in a female fashion exhibition in Paris.
Though communication with world-acclaimed artists, Paris gave the two talented Lithuanians the understanding that distinction was the only way to recognition.
“It was back in Paris that we realized that the world took interest in us only because we were from little-known Lithuania. You cannot surprise anyone by being like a global world citizen. We saw then that you could only be interesting in the global context by relying on your unique fantasy or unseen national heritage in your creative work,” Ieva shares her memories.
It was as far back as their first collection under the roof of Studija LT that Ieva and Jolanta tried to show Lithuania as not only famous for basketball, beer, cepelinai, and beautiful women. Hence, in designing untraditional clothing or home décor items, the designers decorated them with well-familiar Lithuanian symbols. Thy drew inspiration from the Lithuanian national heritage, which at that time many perceived as timeworn and not interesting.
Air Lituaica uniforms and the history of design
The two women believe that the growing number of clients proves that nationality and the search for national identity are gathering pace, thus expanding their circle of clients.
“We fist believed that foreigners, loving Lithuania and showing interest in it, would be our major clients. However, we later noticed that our products were rather popular among Lithuanians as well. Our clients are people who travel a lot or work abroad, and they are not afraid to admit that they are Lithuanians,” says Ieva.
The works of the design duo LT Identity have already made design history. Last year the talented designers received the gold award in A’ Design Awards and Competition, an international Italian competition. Thy were awarded for a limited edition collection of a Lithuanian alcoholic drink.
The women are proud that met with international acclaim, the project has made its way to the new design books and was on display in international exhibitions.
The LT identity style is also manifested in the work of Ieva Ševiakovaitė who designed uniforms for the flight attendants of Air Lituanica. The uniforms were made of Lithuanian fabric, while the design was based on the airline’s symbols inspired by Lithuanian history.
by Tomas Janonis