The Heroine’s Journey of Petra Minjevic

What is the best thing that I love about my work? I love how my work, in its visual, conceptual and cultural sense merges with every aspect of my life. Factors that elevate my personal life contribute to the development of my work and vice versa. It makes an interesting, thoughtful and meaningful life. I also love the process of researching, conceptualising and producing garments with my knowledge of creative pattern cutting and draping, often finding asymmetrical, delicate shape and detail inspiration in sculpture, kinetic art and abstract photography.

Photo credit: Marta Gligorijevic

What is my idea of happiness? Currently, it is having my studio filled with inspirational books, mood boards, furniture I love and carefully curated flower arrangements. The smell of green tea and water-mint scented candle. Having a “Paris espresso” with frothed milk at the crack of dawn. A good exhibition, an intellectually stimulating conversation, mastering a new skill or language, cooking wonderful meals from Ottolenghi recipe books and enjoying them with good friends over a glass of wine. In the bigger picture, a well-balanced life. Family. Personal, professional, cultural development. For such balance to be achieved would be ultimate happiness.

What is my greatest fear? Fear of being static. I believe constant development is vital, each collection is better than the last, each idea is more elevated than the previous one.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? Although I am thankful to my restlessness for having a part in the endless source of energy needed for a career in a creative industry, it can definitely be a burden as well.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? I am lucky to have crossed paths with a number of admirable people in my industry through a range of professional and social settings. The creative leads at the fashion houses I’ve had the privilege of being part of are some of the most globally recognised people in the industry, and the teams I’ve worked with consisted of world-class professionals and wonderful people. Working alongside them has tremendously helped me develop a strong work ethic.

From a perspective of personal taste, I admire Helmut Lang for his brilliant cuts and immensely intelligent design. Having a single line often be a prominent design feature is courageous and takes a special kind of well developed taste. A 90s blazer under his label is one of my all time favourite wardrobe essentials.

I also greatly admire the people behind the scenes who are immensely important to designers, such as the wonderful seamstresses who always have the solution for a perfect finishing no matter how complicated the cut of the garment or how delicate the fabric is.

What is my greatest extravagance? The finer things in life I enjoy most often are of cultural and artistic value, such as a trip to Venice for La Biennale. Then occasionally it’s nothing but an interesting cocktail at a nice place not too far from my studio.

On what occasion would I lie? I prefer to be diplomatic, as often as possible. I profusely dislike lying yet despise being unkind, conflicting, arrogant… hence naturally developing this skill.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? The uncertainty that comes with a creative profession. The prejudice and myths about the fashion industry – though those can be quite interesting and humorous to me at times. The excessiveness in the mentality of consumption that creates an unhealthy balance in the industry.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? When executing an idea I’ve been developing for a long time, after numerous fittings and trials.

If I could, what would I change about myself I constantly work on self-development and strive for positive change in every way. I don’t accept the “well, that’s just the way I am” logic.

What is my greatest achievement in work? I personally feel a lot of gratitude for the fact that those who best understand the aesthetic and design concept of my work are some of those I have always found to have brilliant personal taste and excellent viewpoints on contemporary design, creating that community of likeminded people, often artists, stylists, curators, journalists who enjoy the quality of design and production with a refined aesthetic and concept in mind.

Where would I most like to live? At the moment, I’m happy in London – its dynamic and multicultural essence has been fuelling me with energy for the past 7 years. I’ve lived in the United Kingdom, the Mediterranean and the Balkans. These are places with immense cultural differences so I believe I can adapt anywhere and set up a good life as long as I have my creative work and a circle of inspiring people.

What is my most treasured possession? Analogue photographs, especially polaroids. The inability to precisely focus the camera or pose perfectly captures very personal and raw moments making it possible to re-live the genuine emotions behind the image. I’ve also curated an archive of vintage garments. It consists of my favourite collections such as Prada and Miu Miu 1999, vintage Helmut Lang, Chalayan, interesting brands prominent in the 90s such as Marithé et François Girbaud, along with some tagless, yet incredibly well-made garments. I love looking at how these archive pieces are finished, stitched, examining small details.

What is my most marked characteristic? I have a contemplative personality yet I am passionate in many ways, an innocent type of genuine curiosity yet a need for systematic precision. These traits are an interesting combination. A lot of thought and conceptual development is behind my work as a result of my character. However my most prominent characteristic must be ambition, in the sense of the quality of my work and personal development.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city? The Zaha Hadid extension of Serpentine Gallery, where “The Magazine” is located. It combines a great location, interior and architecture, fantastic exhibitions at the gallery, brilliant design-specific literature and contemporary magazines at Koeing Books and a lovely bar. This is often a meeting point for me and some pretty big projects have come to life over a cup of coffee at The Magazine.

What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city? London is a brilliant city for trying out different cuisines and I love the sensation of experiencing a flavour or a concept for the first time. I also love cooking and creating an intimate and cosy atmosphere at home. When I feel like having a cocktail, I usually go to Swift or another bar in Soho. A place I like to visit is José, a charming tapas bar in Bermondsey that serves lovely food and wine. I also recently went to Champagne + Fromage in Covent Garden for the first time and it quickly made it to my favourites list. London has dozens of fantastic bistros and tapas restaurants and I enjoy the concept of small plates over a glass of wine in good company, hence they are often my choice.

What books influenced my life and how? As for visually conceptual books, my current favourite is Assemblage 6: Unlearning by Faye Toogood, which has influenced my recent creative work. My reading list heavily consists of psychology and classics. There are several books which tap into human psyche that I found brilliant. On the other hand, I enjoy the endless possibility for personal interpretation and analysis of classic literature.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? My playlist is pretty carefully curated, I’d happily put it on shuffle, even on this occasion. C’est la vie.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? I’ve always had an interest in historical figures who inspire fictional heroes. For me, Josephine Baker – a muse to Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald… was one of the most fascinating women in the 20th century, her immensely eventful life inspired dozens of extravagant and courageous fictional heroines, yet the real story of Josephine Baker must be the most heroic one.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? My family. They taught me to be kind, understanding, accepting of differences and shown me what harmony looks like.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? One of Wes Anderson’s visually immaculate, conceptual to the point of absurdity and incredibly witty films, such as The French Dispatch.

What role play stories in my life and work? Storytelling is often done through visual cues in my work by conceptually connecting the shapes, details, transparency, delicacy, light and shadow – creating a visual and conceptual narrative. Narratives are vital for a thoughtful design process.

What do the words ‘You are the storyteller of your own life’ to me? With the ability to understand ourselves through psychology and study the sociological factors surrounding us combined with our characteristic traits and emotions, we create our own narrative and ability to achieve the required personal development, education, determination to follow our own vision. While we can’t control all aspects of our lives or every situation, the way we interpret, react, and overcome is personal. Happiness, success, achievements are subjective and everyone’s story is their own to live, interpret and tell.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? My loving and supportive family.

Which people or companies would I like to work with? My work experience within luxury ready-to-wear consists of both conceptual/contemporary and heritage brands, as well as those in-between, so I am really open! I like what the Nina Ricci brand is doing at the moment. In terms of collaborations with creative professionals, a photographer whose work I currently love is Carlijn Jacobs.

What project am I looking forward to work on? I am currently working on a new collection and as it is reaching finishing stages of development, it excites me more each day. I am also looking forward to a couple of wonderful collaborations that are in the making.

Where can you see me or my work? I am grateful to have had my work published by a number of magazines, online publications and other media outlets. My collection was on a recent cover of ELLE Magazine and my stepping stone was a London Fashion Week feature. More features of myself and my work include the British Fashion Council, a documentary and fashion film under Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio, followed by several editorials, collaborations, articles such as the likes of Vogue Italia and more. Currently, a selection can also be seen on my social media and on Not Just A Label https://www.notjustalabel.com/petra-minjevic https://www.instagram.com/petraminjevic.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? Passion is a source of energy which is constant. With passion for life, for our profession, in romance… we’re able to do all things with a spark no matter at what stage of life we are.

Which creative professionals should Peter invite to tell their story? I’d ideally like to send Peter a lengthy list as there are many creative professionals in my network who I believe would, in addition to their careers, be brilliant storytellers of their own journeys.

How can you contact me?

https://www.notjustalabel.com/petra-minjevic, https://www.linkedin.com/in/petra-minjevic/ and https://www.instagram.com/petraminjevic.

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