Ioana Ciolacu - sunglasscurator

Ioana Ciolacu

Hello, spring! Hello, sun! Hello, sunchasers!

We’re debuting our Guest Curator series of this year with fashion designer Ioana Ciolacu, one of the most talented rising stars of European fashion. After having studied both architecture at UAUIM and fashion design at UNARTE, Ioana won the fashion talent Designer for Tomorrow contest in 2013, an edition patroned by Stella McCartney. Since then she presented her collections at Berlin Fashion Week every year, launched her own online shop and is currently preparing even more beautiful projects. Just make sure to keep an eagle eye on her.

We love her punk-ish personal style and how she explores color, texture and shape through geometrical designs captured in a modernist feminine style, without the typical rigid mindset of architects.

Our team sat down with Ioana to debate her influences, future projects and the challenges she faces along the way. Naturally, we touched on our common interest – sunglasses, as well. Enjoy!

For those who haven’t heard of Ioana Ciolacu just yet, please tell us what are the main three traits of designer Ioana Ciolacu?

Curiosity, techniques, sustainability.

Glamorous 70’s inspired Cutler and Gross sunglasses featuring gold rose mirror lenses. 

You studied architecture, but became a fashion designer. What are the similarities in between the two? Where do you feel the study of architecture helped your work as a designer?

In terms of common practice, those two seems quite the same but with different time management. And I know a bunch of designers who initially studied architecture but then switched to fashion, so those two must be related in several ways. However, studying architecture prepared me in terms of design thinking, technical skills and vision, but also stood in my way of looking at the human body in a poetical way and loving it. So I had to learn all that by myself.

What do you consider to be the game-changer in your carrier so far?

Carrier wise it’s definitely that moment when Stella called me on the stage to give me the Designer for Tomorrow award.

With such a massive flow of young designers around the world, how do you stay fresh, innovative and relevant as a designer?

I don’t think in those terms as I would be screwed if I would try to compete with the world. And I do know that as long as my mind is healthy and open, my work will be relevant for some. Plus it’s a creative job, but still a job, so if you’re getting good at it, yet not get lazy or fuzzy, you could not be wrong. Or is it? All I know is that you cannot please everybody and that, if you don’t get stuck design wise, you’re fine.

Round Thom Browne sunglasses with 18-carat gold panels details. 

What are the designers that have offered you constant inspiration throughout the time?

The perks of being a designer is that I have a deep insight on fashion. So I don’t look at designers only for their fashion shows and campaigns, but also for the whole process behind it, the ideas, how they and their business evolve. From this point of view, fashion is a beautiful yet ugly mistress. So I find myself liking less and less but loving more passionately bits and pieces of it. It’s quite intimate. However, knowing Stella personally and having a good insight of her running her business, I always love to see what she came up with. And then there’s Ricardo Tisci, you cannot not love a bad boy :)

Your collections have been bought by fashion giant Moda Operandi, as well as independent boutiques around the world. What do you feel is the difference in working with “the big boys” as compared to the local independent boutiques?

I haven’t worked yet with Net a Porter, but it’s definitely in my plans. I love equally stocking at a caring big boy and a cool smaller one. It’s always great to find a huge company like Moda Operandi that really takes time to make you feel great as a designer and also sell your stuff like crazy or a smaller one like URBN who spells coolness and openness all over. What I don’t like, no matter the size, is the consignment policy in the retail business. It’s quite often in Romania, but the industry just don’t work this way. Every company should take the risk of acquiring and not borrowing from a brand, as this way the quality of the merchandise would be higher and more specific, not to mention the applied art of selling. Nobody likes to buy designer clothes from a bazaar and its bad business.

Exquisite materials with bold design: Linda Farrow 259 sunglasses featuring 22-carat gold plated lenses 

During your SS15 runway show, you displayed some beautiful over-sized sunglasses that we instantly loved. Do you plan on expanding your product offering with a sunglasses line?

The feedback was great for the sunglasses, but we are not able to produce them as we don’t have the know how. So we’re looking for collaborations for the moment.

You presented at Berlin Fashion Week, is there another fashion week that you are interested in joining? If yes, please tell us why.

I guess that every designer dreams about Paris Fashion Week, including myself, but I’m not quite there yet. However, I would like to go to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week New York because I think that the US market is a good one for me.

What’s your favorite activity, when you’re not working in your atelier?

Going to the movies and festivals.

Tell us your top three place to hang out in Bucharest.

There’s A1 for winter time, Eden for summer time, Alt Shift for eating and Eclectico for a change of scene.

What fashion items do you shop online for?

I’m not a big shopper and I have plenty of clothes on hand, ain’t I? But I do shop shoes online sometimes.

How do you choose your sunglasses? Tell us why you think sunglasses are important for your style and outfits.

For me sunglasses are not just a style item, but also a necessity: having bright blue eyes does not go well with sunshine, be it summer time sunshine, winter sunshine reflections or cloudy sunshine. So I don’t buy cheap eye-wear as the lack of UV protection makes me cry. Regarding the style, I like switch between different styles. There are so many options there, why stick to just one?

Limited edition Thom Browne sunglasses featuring flat silver mirror lens. 

Your signature style is:

Not giving a shit and secretly worrying about it.

Tell us which is your favorite pair of sunglasses from our curated gallery and associate it with your favorite piece of your SS15 collection.

I really loved the Linda Farrow 78C8 sunglasses.

Ioana’s Pick: Linda Farrow 78C8, the square oversized sunglasses featuring brown python arms, available here. 

Photos taken by Roxana Marcu at Gargantua restaurant in Bucharest