Charlie is finishing third grade, and when asked who her greatest inspiration is, she says her mom. Jarka, who possesses a natural Eastern European effortless beauty, grew up in the Czech Republic under communism and recalls all of the kids wearing the same exact thing. In fact, there was a law that allowed for only two styles of shirts to be manufactured. As a refuge from the visual mundanity, Jarka spent lots of time in her grandmother’s attic sifting through a painted floral trunk of clothes that the Germans had left behind after WW2. Growing up, if she wanted different shoes, she had to go to East Germany or Hungary and for unique clothing, she either made it herself or relied on her grandmother, who was a seamstress. Today, Jarka is a vintage clothing connoisseur and collector and Charlie loves digging for clothes and shoes of all types, especially the ones with old-fashioned details like buttons around the ankle.
Jarka believes that the political and cultural restrictions of her youth forced her to be more creative and original like taking her grandfather’s pinstriped pants and tailoring them. Having internalized that same authenticity, Charlie buoyantly claims that she loves to express the clothes that she wears. Breaking the rules is an art for Jarka. She doesn’t like “perfect things” and feels she has to “break it,” and she does with an old hand knit man’s sweater that she pairs with a white nylon ’50s skirt and a rubber band collar necklace that she made and that looks Elizabethean at first glance. Similar to her love for the unexpected combination of knit and nylon, Jarka turns a shearling coat inside out, uses a tablecloth for curtains and made a skirt from pantyhose. Charlie, while lauding the virtues of a flamenco-style dress from Mexico, says, “I don’t like things that are made for Hannah Montana… I don’t like made princess stuff that comes in a box.”
A hand-embroidered peasant top that Jarka wears reminds her of her childhood and the georgette and muslin dresses with tiny printed flowers worn by her grandmother while farming that she’d find in the matriarch’s cupboard. I love how Jarka wears the top with Russian Afghanistan War army pants and Austrian hand-knit socks with clogs. Charlie, who has “I am a collector of clothes” written all over her room, wears relics much like her mom, including her 200 year old Czech Republic vest and a shirt with lace-embellished sleeves, worn with jeans. Jarka’s passion for reappropriation is possibly most embodied in her obsession with Margiela and his iconic split-toe shoe – Charlie proudly sports her own metallic pair. Why wear a pair of designer jodphurs when you can have Jarka’s, that have the wear and tear of history and why opt for a pre-fab Cinderella dress when you can find a treasured one like Charlie’s?