Aleksandra Dojcinovic, The Name Behind LeiLou

Growing up in a country which is unknown for design, in a family where no one was interested in fashion, she managed to start up a fashion label at the age of 26 and become a well-known designer both inside and outside of Croatia.

12191528_1015975285091446_2650416292631067601_nAleksandra with her new collection Spring/Summer 2016

With the honour of opening the 20th Zagreb Fashion Week, this 34-year-old fashion designer proved once again that she is the most popular designer among Croatian women. The Zagreb Fair Centre, a complex of exhibition pavilions, was packed with numerous celebrities, mostly women, who came to see the new collection for Spring Summer 2016. The new range radiates romanticism with floral patterns, lace and small bows which add femininity distinctive to LeiLou silhouette.

As well as attending Zagreb Fashion week every season, Aleksandra’s elegant and feminine dresses and gowns are regularly featured in editorials of Croatian fashion magazines such as Story, Cosmopolitan and Elle and worn by Croatian and international  celebrities, singers and actresses all over the world. But it’s not just in Croatia where she is applauded. She presented her clothes in many countries including Great Britain, Turkey, Germany and United States. The label was landed in 2007 after a successful trip to Chicago and a fashion show at the luxe hotel Drake. Until then she was just Aleksandra Dojcinovic but for the people of the United States, her Croatian surname was really hard to pronounce, so LeiLou by Alex was born. Without degree in design, mainly self-taught, she mastered dressmaking, but what makes her special is the fact that her dresses are multifunctional, you can wear them at least three ways and most of them as a skirt. Even though she uses fine materials she has managed to make her dresses affordable to every working woman by combining them with less expensive materials.

All of Aleksandras’s dresses have a unique story and they are named after the women in her life, her clients and friends.

Because of the close relationship she has with her clients she was happy to work from her small, quiet atelier for many years until 2012 when she decided it’s time for her first shop in the very centre of the Croatian capital Zagreb. However, the biggest move happened in September 2013 when she expanded her business across the border and opened an international shop in a prestigious district of Stuttgart, Killesberg.

In June 2014, Aleksandra opened her third shop in a town on the Dalmatian coast called Split, and since then her business has grown massively and today LeiLou is officially the best-selling Croatian fashion brand selling in 12 different countries.

But where did it all begin?

“Fashion was my biggest interest from an early age, my mum can confirm that. And I was a big dreamer. I remember we were learning a song in the choir that says ‘you will know that you are grown up when you stop dreaming.’ I told my mum that day that I don’t want to go to choir anymore because they are teaching us stupid things, I will never stop dreaming. During the Art classes at the elementary school, other children were drawing their pets or friends but I was drawing dresses. Those were my first designer steps I think.

Somehow, I knew from the beginning that I will make dresses when I grow up and I was never dreaming about things that girls usually are dream of, like becoming teachers.Things got serious in my teenage years. I was attending Textile Technology High School and for my school project we were supposed to make a shirt so I made one but my teacher was not happy and the shirt didn’t look like the way she imagined it so I got an F.

That didn’t discourage me so I decided to put that shirt on the same night when I went out with my friends and I sold it! And not just that, the girl who bought it thought that this shirt was from a new Calvin Klein collection she saw somewhere when she was travelling abroad. The same night I even managed to sell the skirt I was wearing to her friend. So even though the teacher wasn’t happy about it those girls gave me an A+. I suppose that at that moment I realised that I could make a good business of it. I kept making things during high school and I was selling them to my friends and their mothers. I have to say that even though, neither of my parents were interested in fashion they were really supportive all the way. By the age of 18 I had so many orders that I employed my own tailor to help me with sewing. At 21 I founded my own company and I was designing costumes and uniforms for different companies, sporting events, presentations, events and promotions because back then event business was blooming so I could live very well from that. So I love to say that I’ve been in this business since my childhood.”

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Q: Who or what inspires you?

A: Successful women are my biggest inspiration and by that I don’t mean just businesswomen. For example, one of my inspirations are my friends who successfully balance between their families and jobs, but my other inspiration can also be some random positive and cheerful girl that enters my shop to get a new LeiLou dress. On the other hand, I got inspiration on my trips where I can see so many different street styles and trends. I’m not immune to trends, but I’m trying to dose them, in business and private life.

Q: What do you think, can the Croatian fashion scene compete with World’s fashion scene?

A: In terms of talent it certainly can, but talent on its own is not enough and it will take many more years before Croatian design becomes competitive on world’s market.

On the other hand, the situation in the Croatian fashion today is much better than before, and it’s better organised. Fashion week has helped a lot. It opened a window to the world to those who love to design.

Q: Whose design you love to wear the most?

A: My own (laughing). I have many favourite designers like Kenzo and Christopher Kane

and Gianvito Rossi for shoes, but I created LeiLou on my personal vision of how the fashion should look . Fortunately, my desires coincided with those of our clients and that is why our story is so successful and lasting. I’m happy because dresses that come out of  our workshop defy trends. They are simple in cut but striking in design and made for every woman, with or without curves.

Q: How would you describe your personal style?

A: Because I’m a very simple person, I would say the same for my style. I don’t change my style much. I wear only what makes me feel good. I choose my daily clothes when I get up in the morning, depending on my current mood. I often wear dresses of all lengths and cuts. I don’t wear jeans, never! It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just I don’t like them on me. Also, I love platforms but I can’t really wear them because I’m almost 190cm tall which makes it hard.

Q: What are your plans for future?

A: There are lots of plans, but neither of them  are too big. I have a great team of associates with whom I can synchronise desire and opportunities and make some realistic goals that we can try to achieve together. We managed to place our brand in the Istanbul market very well and now we need to maintain continuity and try to progress further. In this business it is important to never fall behind the others, especially not behind famous designers because today our clients know what is trendy and we have to be ready to offer them that in  our own way but  we also need to remember that this is a small country so we need to adapt everything to that as well. I’m happy. We are achieving this and in the future I’m planning to improve that even more.

Between The Lines

 

Bold, colourful,rebellious, elegant, with a dash of retro, and the most popular pattern of the moment -stripes 

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Almost every season we see stripes on the runway and the Spring Summer 16 collections are no different, but it w
asn’t always like this. Stripes have come a long way from being the most unpopular to the most loved pattern.

 

The first mention of stripes was in the 13th century. During the Middle Ages stripes were mostly horizontal, and mainly worn by prostitutes, jugglers, clowns, hangmen and prisoners. The pattern was seen as evil, especially ones in bright colours and they were often referred to as “devil’s cloth”. Striped clothing was really rare until the 18th century but then during the American revolution stripes were everywhere, but not just on clothes.
The real breakthrough happened during 19th Century, when Queen Victoria dressed her son in a sailor suit to go on a yacht and also in Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s painting which depicted a boy wearing a marine jacket. After that, in 1858, French sailors  embraced the white and blue knit shirt as their uniform with 21 stripes (each one symbolising Napoleon’s victories). Later that type of striped shirt would get the name Breton from the Breton Movement in Brittany, France.

Stripes got into high-fashion when Coco Chanel saw a Breton striped shirt during her trip to the French riviera and started selling them in her shop. After this point stripes became in vogue amongst different groups from artists, and movie stars to musicians.striped-pants

During the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s stripes became a rebellious and hipster pattern and were worn by the Beat Generation, musicians like The Beatles, Bob Marley, actors James Dean and Marilyn Monroe and everyone else who questioned authority.

Over the course of time stripes evolved and now it’s not just about Breton.Nowadays we can see several types of stripes on skirts, dresses, coats and trousers. Nautical stripes, as the most popular, are associated with Breton and seaside and we can see them on sailors or Venetian gondoliers, rugby stripes-wide and usually brightly coloured, originally used in sports, chevron – zigzag, military inspired stripes and candy stripes just to name a few.

Many designers featured this popular pattern in their SS 16 Collections including Dolce and Gabbana’s 40’s , Marc Jacobs’s American and Ralph Lauren’s sailors inspired pieces. Everyone agrees that stripes are big now.

One of the many designers to adopt stripes is Tommy Hilfiger. He was inspired by the beaches and crystal blue seas of the caribbean using a palette of colours inspired by reggae legend Bob Marley.  Coral red, emerald

green, yellow and blue inspired by the beaches and the 70’s look noticeable in

using crochet fabric. The most recognisable Marley pieces were stripy knitted bucket hats in rainbow colours accompanied by stripy net vests made to look like long beach coverups.Collection was a mix of boho, young and sporty with horizontal and vertical colourful stripes in dresses, bikinis, skirts and shorts.

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Another designer who featured stripes was Elie Saab. Still keeping his well known feminine silhouette, he gave a young vibe to his new collection by using bold stripes and 70’s inspired garments such as bow ties, balloon sleeves and disco jumpsuits.

He used horizontal wide stripes in bold and bright colours including purple, pink, red and deep green in dresses,shirts and a bomber jacket.  But he also used a more conventional vertical design with thin black and white stripes pairing them with floral patterns in long dresses, jumpsuits and capes.

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Missoni,known for knitwear design in brightly coloured and chevron-stripes this season also stayed faithful to the house’s trademark.Inspired by the  Maasai tribe of Africa, Angela Missoni presented a sporty and jet set, breezy look by using vibrant stripes on almost every piece, including Converse and making the runway into carousel of colour.

Chaos in the form of stripes in all directions and dimensions and flowy garments made the silhouette look long and slim.

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It is for sure that stripes are a pervasive pattern in fashion and part of every woman’s wardrobe.  Even though stripes can be hard to wear, in most cases they can be used for flattering the figure. Stripes can make you look skinnier, taller, give you waist or add curves to your body. Stripes are probably the only pattern accepted by both men and women, young and old because of their ability to comprehend with every style and print. This is the main reason why they have been popular in the fashion world for more than 100 years and will continue to be for many more.

Mademoiselle Prive Exhibition

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From the 13th October until 1st November you have a chance to visit Mademoiselle Prive exibition at Saatchi Gallery , exhibition that dives into the world of Chanel’s founder Coco but also explores Karl Lagerfeld, who has been creative director at the French fashion house since 1983.

It took a whole year to set up the show and this is the third for Chanel at the Saatchi Gallery, following ‘The Little Black Jacket’ in 2012, and an exhibition of Sam Taylor-Johnson’s photographs of Coco Chanel’s apartment in Paris last year.

The exhibition takes up the entire three floors of the Saatchi Gallery space, beginning with a specially made garden designed to represent key influences in Coco’s life.

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The exhibition begins with the mirrored staircase above Chanel’s salon. Key moments in Chanel’s life – the opening of her first store, a Deauville hat shop, the summers she spent in Scotland.

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Chanel No 5 room is a big futuristic space with wells containing each of the perfumes individual ingredients, such as jasmine and may rose.

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After the digital  ground floor, there is a more traditional display above: a selection of some of Lagerfeld’s most beautiful black and gold evening dresses and a fine jewellery collection of diamonds, designed by Coco in 1932 but displayed here for the first time.

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To have a virtual tour of Coco’s private apartments visitors are encouraged to download the Mademoiselle Privé app.

The free exhibition will run from 10am – 6pm 7 days a week until November 1. For more information visit www.saatchigallery.com

Sunday Reading List

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Kate Hudson Models Jimmy Choo’s gorgeous fall collection

Alexa Chung launched her own shopping app and it’s great

3 Yes,it’s really finished.Or if you are in England it didn’t come this year so it’s fine.Here are some advice on How to Cope With the End of The Summer

The Bloggers You Need To Follow During Fashion Month

Givenchy debut at New York fashion week

6 Photographers from around the world share intimate scenes of their home city

Barbie account mocks the picture perfect lifestyle snaps of Instagram

8 If you don’t know what to have for breakfast check London’s Most Instagrammable Breakfasts

Sunday Reading List

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1.There is no big surprise but nominations are in.See the complete list of  Emmy nominees for 2015.

2.At home with True Detective’s Michelle Monaghan

3.  Flowers frozen in ice-cubes is such a fabulous idea for a summer party

4.Amazing photographs of dancers by former dancer Kyle Froman

5.Interview with the star of the new British tv drama series Humans –Gemma Chan

6. Thing I really want to know is how to make beachy summer waves  

7.Inside the work wardrobe of Beyonce’s personal assistant 

8. Lily-Rose Depp’s Inevitable Chanel Campaign Has Arrived  

Men’s fashion 2015 – 7 tips every girl should know about dressing their boyfriend (Part 1)

Our guide to men's fashion will help you dress your boyfriend for any occasion.
Our guide to men’s fashion will help you dress your boyfriend for any occasion.

When it comes to men’s fashion there a thing that all men find really difficult to know if they have (but girls do):

A sense of style!

But having a sense of style isn’t just about knowing about men’s fashion or men’s clothing, it’s about what looks good on your boyfriend so he can look his best every day.

But how do you know what looks on your boyfriend and how he should dress:

Well, it’s a question we get asked on The Fashion Mannequin blog every week, so I thought I would write this guide on men’s fashion to help you help your boyfriend to look (and be) his best without any effort!

Like this guide?  You can Tweet it here

If you ignore proper fitting, then he’ll always suffer from ‘bad fit syndrome’

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See all of our easy tips on the perfect fitting to avoid ‘bad fit syndrome’

The secret of all good men’s fashion is all about the fitting.  Let’s be honest we’ve all laughed at the guy who wore ill-fitting men’s clothing at the bar, make sure that your man doesn’t fall foul of what I like to call ‘bad fit syndrome’.

You might be wondering, how do I avoid ‘bad fit syndrome’?:

Well you might be amazed to know, the first secret is ensuring your boyfriend is in shape!  Time is really tight these days to work out and eat well, but clothing always look better on a fit body and it’s easier to buy men’s clothes for a guy who is in shape.  Now before you think oh my god! We don’t mean that he needs to look like the model of a men’s fashion magazine, but you should make sure he eats properly, drinks plenty of water and regularly works out (you can even do it as a fun activity together in the evenings to spend time with each other), with a good body he’ll fill out his clothes and ensure that he always looks his best.  Besides, girls, admit it, we all love a man with a fit body 😉

But here’s the kicker:

Being in shape is one thing, the next secret to good fitting clothing is to make sure he measures up properly.  If you can, go to a proper tailor’s and get him measured professionally, it could be the difference between your boyfriend looking o.k., and looking great, you don’t want to be the girl who looks at her boyfriend in the morning and thinks ‘what are you wearing today?!?!’.  The fit will be vital when you finally chose to buy men’s clothing on the highstreet or online.

With so many different garments in men’s fashion we could write a post on fitting all on its own, but here are some simple men’s fashion tips to get your started.

Tip 1. On dress shirts make sure his collar touches his neck and the cuffs just touch his palms, the length shouldn’t be excessive but when tucked in shouldn’t be so short that it comes loose.

Tip 2: With coats make sure he knows what he’ll be wearing underneath and buy a size which isn’t loose but sticks to the shape of his body

Tip 3: When buying jeans, make sure that the cut is slim across the thigh and either straight or tapered from the knee down, make sure you buy him jeans which stick to his waist, if he prefers (or looks better) in a slimmer fit, get him to wear one size lower.

Tip 4: His shoes should always be comfortable, again the shoes shouldn’t be loose when wearing them and ultimately he should always be comfortable whilst walking.

But you may be wondering:

How can he afford to get professional measurements, won’t that cost us a fortune?  Well i’ll teach you all a simple trick which means that you can get measured by a professional without paying a penny.

Tip 5: Simply visit a high street retailer such as TM Lewin or Moss Bros and try and buy a suit.  Usually one of their helpful store staff members will be on hand with a tape measure and will be able to give you collar, leg, and waist measurements for free, and because they are professional suit retailers, you can be sure that you will get accurate measurements every single time.

So now you know his perfect measurements are, it’s time to look at what to wear:

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How to use brands and give him his own sense of style and avoid ‘brand clash’

With so many designer men’s clothing brands now available online and on the high street it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the amount of choice out there.

There is one thing to remember though when it comes to men’s fashion brands:

There are no rules!  That’s right, ultimately brands for men’s clothing is a matter of one’s taste, but you should try and keep to brands and outfits with similar styles and avoid mixing and matching to avoid ‘brand clash’.  Make sure you read a range of men’s fashion magazines like GQ, and Esquire to see what the latest men’s style trends are, these will show you what’s hot and what’s not.

So which men’s fashion brands would I recommend?:

Here are a few to get you thinking:

Jack Wills – Primarily a fashion clothing brand aimed at university students, Jack Wills is known for its ability to merge old and new styles and their very British designs across their clothing range.  It’s why it’s known as ‘Fabulously British’.

Jack wills is the 'fabulously British' men's clothing brand

Ted Baker – Quintessentially stylish with a range of fine detail and classic features, the Ted Baker clothing line is more for those who prefer a casual but formal look in their dressing.

Ted Baker is a formal men's fashion brand popular for more formal styles of men's clothing

American Apparel – Simple clothing pieces with a ‘made in the USA’ type feel, there is something for every man here with a series of simple, yet contemporary designs.

American Apparel is a real 'made in the USA' men's fashion brand

Franklin & Marshall – Sports wear meets casual in this mashup of a brand inspired by the USA.  Sweatshirts, T-Shirt, and Jogging Bottoms all marked with college logos or American Cities as the hallmark of this brand.

Franklin and Marshall is a mens fashion brand.  They make lots of sweatshirts, jogging bottoms and tshirts.

Levis – The iconic fashion brand known for the red tab.  Levis are known the world over for their famous jeans and denim wear.  Levis combines classic looks with modern touches to continue to be one of the best known fashion brands today.

Levi's is the iconic mens fashion brand for denim

Remember to look at those men’s fashion magazines too for more inspiration on men’s style and which clothing brands are hot.

Be sure to join The Fashion Mannequin Blog next week for part 2 of our Men’s fashion guide where we’ll talk about the perfect shoes, trousers and how to get your boyfriend to look his dapper best in a suit.  We’ll also share some of the best and cheapest ways you can buy all of the best men’s clothing online and on the high street.

Tweet this tip on men’s fashion brands

When Normal becomes Trendy

normcore13 Just when I though that everything in fashion is already said and invented and that nothing can not surprise me anymore,something surprised me.Normal.Nowadays,in aspiration to be different somehow everyone become the same . After balancing in stilettos whose heels are reminiscent of skyscraper models,with strange installations on heads and combinations that include several completely incompatible patterns in the entire range of colours,street style reached critical level,and mania of celebrating dissimilarity became something completely opposite. Suddenly no one is interested.All those people that are “different” are somehow equally different. From obsession of individuals to define them selfs as different because they are wearing different clothes,entirely new phenomenon was born. Normcore.  Normcore is unisex fashion trend characterised by average-looking clothes,movement that finds liberation from worlds obsession with appearance. Looking like a middle-aged dad with socks stretched to his knees,like that teacher from primary school that always wears worn out jeans or like mum when she goes to buy some groceries on Saturday morning in her casual edition,point of normcore dressing is in that you have to dress up simple and as more conventional  as possible.You have to embrace sameness and let your personality shine instead your highly stylised outfit do that for you. 53a9afa79a8baebb3f51337619708767_840_472 Trendsetters who recently wore branded clothes now buying their clothes from the shopping centres,and Isabell Marant sneakers were replaced by sport sandals we most often see on tourists.And everyone embraced this trend,from celebrities to fashion bloggers who had big impact on popularisation of this trend by wearing oversized coats and sneakers with everything. Although completely unpretentious,normcore already found its place in fashion magazines where editors describing it like “exhaustingly simple where you look like nothing”. Normcore is actually ideology of conformism,negation of all trends and opposite to hipster trend where everyone are trying to be special. The point is to blend in into the masses,look like everyone else but build your identity  on some other grounds like wonderful personality,talents or charisma. Role models of this trend are for example Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Jobs or Bob Saget… Normcore-598x340 Normcore is androgen style because there is no difference between mens and women clothes, colours are neutral and jeans and white shirts are must have pieces of clothes.Usually normcore fans are wearing Birkenstock orthopaedic shoes,New Balance sneakers,baseball caps and comfortable high waist straight jeans,sport socks or beanies.Basically you have to look like you are not putting any effort and that you do not really care about all that fashion around you.But here is the trap. In normcore there are again all sorts of “must haves”, “you have to do this- this can not” instructions and all that in order to faithfully follow this trend that is actually not trend but negation of all trends. They were making fun of people who were wearing trendy clothes but now they are those trendy people. Suddenly all street stye team that until recently were taking pictures in colour block combination, embraced  this unpretentious, low-key look,not because they have suddenly converted to anti-consumerism but because now it is cool to be normcore. Actually you want to look trendy and you are juggling between several hours of grooming and aspiration to look like you just woke up or you did not want to waste your precious time to get ready. While hipster trend we can define like coming back to eighties,normcore is coming back to nineties.Under the banner of anti-fashion and beneath several layers of boring clothes hides an effort to be different from all those who wants to be different.Hipster trend under the mask.Even though they are saying they do not care they care a lot. And this is the thing I do not understand about normcore. And I do not think that fashion world really understood the message of this too so they started to make editorials with hashtag normcore even though Chanel coat on that page is everything but usual,conventional or normal. The fashion world interpreted normcore like minimalism and I think that is wrong. normcore Interesting thing is that this trend is not new.It exist for decades.It has always been a certain percentage of people in our society who wanted to go under the fashion radar because they did not care about that. This lack of interest in fashion did not ask for fashion name or to become trend. Normcore is something very common that we are selling under an innovative,something that never needed redefinition or even definition. Because those who did not care about how they look like still do not care,does not matter how we are going to call that .