Yesterday Outdated, Today A Hit!

Romanian 'Ia'- From Country Lane to the Red Carpet

March 03, 2014  |  By Maria Lupu, Romania

Yesterday Outdated, Today A Hit!

Do you know the feeling of discovering old things within dusty crates in the attic of your grandparents? The kind of things whose existence has been wiped out from your memory? Is it not fantastic the exhilaration that comes from finding that fluffy Teddy-bear that you used to cling to when you were afraid of darkness or when you needed courage to face that monster under your bed?

It seems that Romania finds itself in a similar case. Like a kid, our country musters its forces to open the coffer of treasures; treasures consisting of the unique Romanian folk art. During the old times, ia, the hand-embroidered traditional Romanian blouse, used to be the common garment of peasant woman who was laboring in her household, raising her children or dancing with blood boiling in her veins Romanian traditional folk dances. But now it seems that “ia” took a flight and crossed the ocean, as these days it can be found in the greatest metropolis and avenues in America, being worn by Hollywood actresses and pop singers. How is this possible? It all began when renowned fashion designers took our Romanian folk costume from the picturesque country road and brought it on the red carpet. Internationally, this is called “modern reinterpretation of a classic fashion”. We Romanians simply call it “celebrating traditional values".

During the last decades, many generations have furtively “deposited” Romanian traditions and national costumes in a hiding place. Even though most young people have stripped off the traditional garments and dress themselves according to modern trends, there are still eager people who want to keep Romanian customs alive. Daciana Diaconu and Petrica Dragan are some of the ones who wear the Romanian blouse “with pride, emotion and a sense of responsibility’’, as they say. They don`t wear the “ia” in the country lane, even less on the red-carpet. Instead, they celebrate the beauty of Romanian traditional clothes while dancing. Glorifying Romanian traditional dances and their unique rythms. Both aged 30, with accomplished professional lives, they have found meaning within the folk group “Ca La Noi”. ”While I`m on the stage, dancing and wearing the “ia”, I feel like I`m a different person. It`s such an extraordinary feeling that I can`t put into words”, Daciana confided.

Regarding the unprecedented succes that the “ia” has gained these days in Europe and America, Petrica stated that “This campaign was at first considered to be a great opportunity to revive the traditional “ia”. However, country folk do not agree. Our national costume is Romania`s emblem with which we can identify. And I feel like what will come after this so-called campaign is bound to be chaos.”

On the other hand, Daciana sustained that “from the point of view of publicity, it`s a positive thing that through the medium of “ia”, foreigners hear some things about a country called Romania, where the “ia” comes from. I would like to regard this publicity as an invitation to other countries to explore and learn more about us and our customs.”

So,what about now? Designers gave it a modern reinterpretation, celebrities wear it and the fashion world has an eye for it. No doubt, the ”ia” is a hit! But fame is a restless child. Today comes and tomorrow goes. As to this matter, Daciana said: ”Fashion trends are changeable and in time, they repeat it. If the Romanian blouse is in trend now, and moreover, known internationally, we should take advantage and this way make our country known, to bring to light our customs, our pastoral lands; hence we can draw in tourists. On the whole, all this international renown and interest for the concept of Romanian folk costume is something that does nothing but give to our country the “glow” that it deserves. But the idea is to be careful not to mistake the authentic embroidered blouse with the stylized version.” Within his last words of the interview, Petrica added that “the Romanian folk costume is literally a monument, because is the proof of our endurance, the heritage of our ancestors.”

With people like Daciana and Petrica there is no need for a red-carpet to praise our traditional values. Nothing can glorify the “ia” more than a fresh green plot at the feet of a young peasant woman walking in the sun.

What designer can be grander that blood lineage and history? Every single generation has left its vestige on the design of what the “ia” is nowadays. Time has embroidered not mere sewing patterns on a raw silk blouse, but there is also blood under the form of red threads on the shirt. Live veins in a human body, the embroidery is “pumped” by the diligent hands of peasant Romanian women who represent the heart of this idyllic land. Like Petrica urges us: “Let`s put on this “holy vestment”, give voice to our culture and after, share with each other the special feeling of being Romanians!”

This is our NOW! Once the magic behind the Romanian thesaurus rediscovered and the dust of denial removed, let this be the moment when the whole precious treasury that Romania has to offer is revealed, praised and valued!

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