Romania—the northern Balkancountry on the Black Sea—is home not only to Romanians but also to thousands of Gypsies and over a dozen displaced minorities like Germans and Hungarians, who predominantly live in Transylvania (Latin for ‘on the other side of the forest’).

Historically, Romania was home to the Dacians, a branch of the Thracians. For those of you who saw the film, gladiator Spartacus was a Thracian! In 106 AD, however, the Roman Empire conquered the Dacians, pummeling their kingdom into a Roman province; hence the name Romania and the Romanian language, which closely resembles Latin.
I first arrived to Romania in 1995 when I was European director for a multinational corporation. I immediately developed an affinity to the Romanians, given the similarity of the Italian culture and language. To my surprise, however, my Romanian rep turned out to be an ethnic German living in Transylvania!
Before arriving to Romania, my only exposure to Transylvania was the Bram Stoker tale of Count Dracula. Fortunately my ignorance vanished when I learned that the tale was partially inspired by a true historical figure—Transylvanian-born Vlad III Dracula—otherwise known as Vlad the Impaler, who reportedly murdered 20-40 thousand people by impaling them on a sharp pole.
My Romanian rep kindly filled in other gaps of knowledge, such as how her German ancestors migrated to the area as early as the 18th century when Transylvania was annexed by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. As for the Hungarians, they had long dominated the region, since the 10th century.
So, welcome to the world of Oláh Gyárfás, the ethnic Hungarian designer who lives in the mountains of Transylvania, in a small village near Miercurea Ciuc. Olah Gyarfas founded his label in 2006, basing it on the fictional baron, Rozalb de Mura.
Rozalb de Mura collections can be described as very “trans”: Transylvanian—a mix of Hungarian and Romanian ethnicity; transgendered—a mingling of masculinity and femininity; transdisciplinary—a platform for artists, musicians, and writers; and transpersonal—a journey from reality to the mythical.
Of the fall/winter 2008-2009 collection, Rozalb de Mura writes:
Olah Gyarfas wrapped himself in the mystery and austerity conveyed by the sheer blackness of an all black lot. In a conscious gesture, all pieces have been immersed in a black viscous liquid, and then brought to surface bearing the lobe-like traces due to the solidification process.
‘The Thing’ has the appearance of several lobe-like frozen flows of some viscous lava. According to its aspect, the specimen could be the result of an eruption. Inexplicably, it tends to manifest alternately as a black, porous ground mass or as a smooth and undulating shiny-black surface.
Some unspecified force within it spreads an eerie glow, which is definitely not due to the reflection of light onto the microscopic crystals of various totally unknown minerals, as it had been suggested. It is, we dare say,
beautiful.”
Stay tuned for more in the next few days on this promising designer of Transylvania!

Photo upper left Sumuleu Ciuc by Locketudor, Copyright by Wikipedia.
Slide show 2008 a/w collection, Copyright by Rozalb de Mura.
 
 
 
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