Lubomir Stoykov: Bulgarian Sportsmen Dress Better than Politicians

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | September 9, 2005, Friday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
Lubomir Stoykov: Bulgarian Sportsmen Dress Better than Politicians Lubo Stoykov and first lady Zorka Parvanova. Her simple and elegant looks reflect her personality, Stoykov believes. Photo by personal archive

Lubomir Stoykov is one of the most outstanding personalities in Bulgarian fashion and lifestyle reporting, image making, PR and advertising consultancy. His famous television show "From Needle to Thread" (a Bulgarian idiom meaning from A to Z) later gave the name to a consultancy company specialized in media policy, public relations, image-making and promotions.

Stoykov is an associate professor who teaches corporate communications, journalism and fashion theory in three of the most prestigious universities in Bulgaria - the Sofia University "ST. Kliment Ohridsky," the University of National and World Economy and the National Academy of Arts. He is a doctor of philology.

Lubomir Stoykov answered questions of SNA Deputy Editor-in-Chief Petya Bondokova

Q: Associate Professor Stoykov, do Bulgarian people have a flair for style and fashion?

A: I hope you understand how hard it is to give a flat answer to this question. For example, could you tell why people dressed up with style have that good taste? Because they are Bulgarian, or else - Italian, Romanian, French, Serbian, American or Lebanese?...Or just because they have developed the perfect personal taste for what is beautiful, harmonious and trendy?

I could not give a categorical answer, but I can definitely say that Bulgarian women are among the most beautiful in the world, and also that Bulgarian people have changed their dressing ways a lot over recent a positive way, of course.

Q: What do you find distinctive in the Bulgarian attitude towards looks?

A: Several things. First of all, as I mentioned already, there are positive tendencies in the attitude towards clothes and good looks. Secondly, the way people dress becomes more closely related to professional success. The way Bulgarians see hairdos, makeup, jewelry and accessories has totally changed.

But there continue to be some serious flaws as well, like the lack of balance and the kitsch, young women putting on too much makeup, too plain and conservative style or the opposite - raffish and even vulgar.

I have noticed an interesting tendency in the way pop-folk artists dress, which is not a negative one at all. They combine efforts to have a perfect figure and yet build an image of modern, elegantly dressed women.

Q: Where do Bulgarians get their style ideas from?

A: From different sources, but most of all from the media - television, magazines, newspapers and, of course, from the catwalk. The informal reality - street fashion, clubs, discos, the pop and underground culture - also have their say. Alongside the celebrities and public opinion leaders.

Q: How vain are Bulgarian men and women, from 1 to 10?

A: Being moderately vain could be a very useful trait. It shows that a person is self-critical and demanding. Bulgarian men and women are constantly growing vainer, but there is nothing wrong about that. Vanity is also not only about looks, and that is a good sign.

From one to ten, I would rate women 8 and men 7.

But you know this is not unconditional, right?

Q: How has the Bulgarian thinking for fashion changed since you took on journalism?

A: This is a very serious topic. I have been reflecting on it in several of my studies and books on fashion and fashion design.

People from my generation and even the older ones still remember the times when fashion was a dirty word, blacklisted as one that cannot be used in party-controlled editions some decades ago. A lot of people that were otherwise intelligent and well educated believed fashion was something bourgeois, superficial.

When I was still young a lot of my professors thought I was wrong to put so much efforts into something so unimportant in their own eyes. And in 1982, they were wondering why did I publish "The Charming Dictator," my first book, dedicated to fashion.

Nowadays those same people nod their approval and congratulate me for my idea to start exploring this phenomenon.

And today? There is not a single medium that does not have their special fashion and lifestyle section.

The so-called fashion journalism is taking shape.

My communication students are showing great interest for this subject. For that reason I am planning to launch a course in fashion journalism next year, at the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communications with the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridsky".

Q: Who do you find to be the best-dressed Bulgarians - models, artists, athletes, politicians?...

A: Stylish looks are not depending that much on professions and social status.

But I get the impression that a lot of the famous Bulgarian sportspersons are perfectly dressed, with a lot of money and taste.

That is partly true for fashion models as well.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't say the same thing about artists and politicians, although the latter have grown a lot in that matter.

President Georgi Parvanov as well as Milen Velchev, Lyuben Dilov Jr., Sergey Stanishev, Ivan Kostov, etc. are dressing appropriately.

As for the ladies, I like the style of Meglena Kuneva, Nadezhda Mihaylova, Anastasia Mozer, Evgenia Zhivkova, Emel Etem, etc. Our first lady Zorka Parvanova is very stylish as well. She usually chooses a more simple style, which fits her status and also her personality.

Q: Are there any Bulgarian fashion icons?

A: On a local scale, there are about 10-20. I would not mention any names, because even for those people the "fashion icon" definition is a bit too much. We don't have such icons like late Jacqueline Kennedy, Princess Diana or Madonna.

Q: Where do Bulgarian celebs usually go wrong about fashion?

A: Bulgarian popular persons are often mistaken in their attempt to demonstrate wealth and power through looks. That kitsch parvenu-effect is rather a defect. It is so stupid to boast about the special kind of leather your shoes were made of. And it's ridiculous to show off with your scarves, coats or jewelry, and emphasize their labels.

Another serious mistake would be to dress inappropriate for the season or for other particular situations. That means not matching your clothing to the weather and the occasion.

You risk not only looking ridiculous, but even offending people around you.

I, like some of my colleagues, think that when floods struck, the formally dressed politicians, mayors and other "VIPs" were looking silly with all that mud and ruins around.

Q: Do famous people try to "buy" good taste?

A: Yes, they do, which is natural.

But it gets difficult if you lack basic culture and taste. Before you spend all that money, better invest in fashion consultant and image-making advice. Because even the most experienced ones sometimes need a tip about their looks, behaviour, observation of certain ceremonies - especially if you are in a foreign country, surrounded by a different culture.

Q: Can one look just as good with Bulgaria-made fashion and with world labels?

A: Yes, to a great extend. But still our fashion houses have a lot to catch up with, as compared to Armani, Chanel, Cavalli and Christian Dior.

Q: And yet there are Bulgarian labels that approximate world quality?

A: Yes, there are, but not too many. I would like to specify that we are simply talking about high professionalism, not "world quality." Such examples are Virginia Atelier, Agresia, Jeni Style, Irida, Capasca, Rila Style, Battibaleno. Lately, Tani, Yunona, Lucille and others have also been doing well.

Q: You have said that your interest for fashion comes from love for women. Would you be impressed by a lady that does not have immaculate taste?

A: I doubt it, unless she is super intelligent and has great originality of thought. But even then I would rather communicate indirectly - by reading her publications or books.

That reminds me of a phrase by my favourite philosopher, Michel de Montaigne: "Around the table I prefer a good company rather than decency; in bed - beauty rather than kindness; in serious discussions - positive knowledge, free of pedantry."

Anti-fashion manifestations, however, make an exception. They are often original and include a lot of creativity and innovations.
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