Gypsy Soul: Romani Fashion and the Politics of Dressing “Gypsy” in Quail Bell Magazine

I’m so thankful to have my article published in Quail Bell Magazine!

I’ve had a lot of fun writing about Romani culture in QBM and I’m looking forward to being a regular contributor. This article is the culmination of flipping through countless magazines, many tumblrs, pinterest pins, fashion blogs, and saying “THIS ISN’T GYPSY FASHION!” aloud to myself in various humors of rage and hilarity. It’s also the culmination of endlessly reading people who do know what they’re talking about, like Dr. Ian Hancock, Oksana Marafioti, and others;  talking with intelligent friends about the topic at length (thanks, guys) at parties and in class; working with my bright bunch of students; and staring at the photo of great-great grandmother Mathilde, the last dancer in the family, unless you count me (and usually I don’t). Basically, it’s a whole lot of love for Erika Varga, real Romani fashion, and a desire to create a dialogue about the politics of “dressing Gypsy” and the harm that comes from perpetuating stereotypes through fashion and popular culture. The next time magazines like Vogue or Cosmopolitan feature a “Gypsy” photoset, I hope that they talk about Romani fashion and culture, because frankly, all moral questions aside (although they are frightfully important), it’s a lot more interesting than the usual nonsense that passes for “Gypsy” style.

Here are some of Varga’s Romani Design creations for you to get excited about:

varga4              varga3

varga1          ROMANI-DESIGN-WOMAN-Helena-Varga


Real Gypsy Fashion! The Gypsy Chronicles: Interview with Erika Varga of Romani Designs

I can’t tell what I love more: Varga’s beautiful fusion of traditional Romani prints, fashions, colors, and cuts and contemporary edge; her message of peace and coexistence; the shots of her models and her inspiration; or the fact that Romani fashion is blossoming into a self-defining style in popular culture (as opposed to an ill-informed appropriation). Check out The Gypsy Chronicle’s interview with Varga for some of the most beautiful words, clothes, and shots you’ll ever find. Peace, love, and fashion, Ms. Varga– you are my heroine. Kushti baxt! 


Image Source: The Gypsy Chronicles

What are the special features of Romani Design outfits?

Erika: Traditions and modernity in the first place, also functionality and flamboyant style. We use quality textiles with flower patterns and bright colours or unique techniques in sewing and decorating the clothes. We also put huge emphasis on the making process of the clothes. In addition, we design textile and silver jewels, if someone requests we use gold as well. We use the most significant Gypsy luck symbols and motifs in jewel making: lentils, clovers, horseshoes, roses, the sun and the moon.

-excerpt from Varga’s interview with The Gypsy Chronicles



Image source: The Gypsy Chronicles