Chatting up Éva Lili Bartha




Words by Tue Elkjær

Pictures courtesy of BARTHA


We scheduled a chat with the promising young designer Éva Lili Bartha to talk about her inspirations and what led her to the fashion industry – not to mention her thoughts and industry practices.

The first time we set sights on Éva’s work was at VIA Design Graduate Show during Copenhagen Fashion Week for AW18, where we were very impressed with her unique style and very impactful designs.


Picture by Joaquin Carbajales BARTHA AW19; 'High On Life' at VIA Design Graduate Show

We’re still very impressed with her work and fascinated with her perspectives on fashion, style and design – we hope you will be too.

Anyway, here’s how our chat went:


I was surprised to learn, that you have a degree in mathematics. How did you make the transition from mathematician to designer?

That is an interesting story. I think I have a picture in my head of my mother sewing something on an old Singer when I was a kid, and maybe these memories made a deeper mark in my mind then I expected.

During my university studies I purchased a very basic sewing machine just for fun, and taught myself how to sew dresses from scraps of fabrics, I found in basement stores.
I did not even know the specification behind constructing a dress, but it made me feel happy and excited.

One day I had a goodbye party before leaving to Italy and I got into a panic, since I could not find anything to wear. So I decided to make a dress in 5 hours from some random fabric I had and it ended up being a very pretty one, people kept asking me where I bought it.


Wow, 5 hours, that’s impressive!

Thanks haha ? it was from a tablecloth fabric, so you can imagine, it was not so comfortable, but this was still not the point when I realized, maybe this was my true passion.

I just kept on sewing some stuff, drawing a bit and enjoying the wonders of mathematics. Then in the last years of my master studies, somebody asked me what was next and I started thinking: Do I really want to continue my career as a researcher, doing a PhD somewhere?
So slowly I realized, I needed something with my hands, something where I see my creation and can form it.

I accidentally bumped into a Danish education stand, at a job fair I was conducting and decided: Then let’s study drawing for a year and try to get into that college.

So, besides writing my master thesis, I went to sewing classes with sweet housewives and went to drawing lessons with a wonderful teacher, who believed in my strong will. And then, got accepted to VIA Design.


Wow, so you really worked hard to go from one study to the other?

Yes, this is typical me, if I decide to do something, I go all in, full power, every effort, hard work.

I decided that I wanted to make a fashion label, with an innovative mindset and understood that, in order to do that, I needed to educate myself first, in fashion.


Wow, that’s very impressive!
So, how does your mathematic background influence your work as a designer?

Before studying fashion, I did not really have an artistic education besides some drawing class, my artistic vision is unshaped and could develop into a very unique perspective.
Having a logical and analytical mindset helps me to have an overview of the processes and create authentic, individual solutions.


So, you don’t really have a design philosophy as such, it’s more instinctual, or?

No, over the years of fashion studies, I did develop my own universe and my philosophy, that is essential to becoming a confident designer.
I would say, that my philosophy equals my values and vision, which I have built my label on.


And what are those values exactly?

First of all, I am a rebel soul, I don’t like rules and being in boxes, being limited, and it’s the same with my designs. Being free in expression and creation is not just a value I have, but a method I follow when working.

I believe that, given this freedom, fashion can be and has to be used in an innovative way, to help make the world a better place and to help the fashion industry develop from the second most pollutive sector, to a field where people learn, develop and unite.

As an upcoming designer, I think it is essential to have a modern mindset, considering social and environmental issues, as well as the problems of consumerism, over-production, fast-fashion and animal cruelty.
My concept is to communicate through clothing, share my feelings, stories, opinions through design, so the audience can create a unique bond with the garments and built them in as part of their life.


It sounds very conceptual to me, is that how you experience your own work?

Yes. Overall I am trying to design experience and connection, rather than just garments.


What are your ideas about beauty – what is beautiful to you, what does that word entail?

Good question!


Picture by Joaquin Carbajales BARTHA AW19; 'High On Life' at VIA Design Graduate Show


Thank you.

Beauty is such an important issue, the way we think about it and how we channel our thoughts can change people’s view of themselves and others.
When I like something, or I find it beautiful, I have this feeling in me, some kind of amazement and joy, I see it as a part of how wonderful life is, how full of moments when somebody or something can achieve a positive response in the observer.


So, beauty is more a feeling, than a visual?

I think it is both: The world we perceive from its visual and tactile elements are all inputs to our senses, and what feeling comes out of it, is formed on all of these interactions.
So it is a feeling, but it is generated based on what our senses receive.


Picture by Joaquin Carbajales BARTHA AW19; 'High On Life' at VIA Design Graduate Show


I’d like to talk about your participation in Copenhagen Fashion Week. Last season, you showcased your designs at Copenhagen Fashion Week, can you tell us about that experience?

Yes, it was a wonderful opportunity, and I am very thankful to VIA for inviting me to participate in the graduation show.

I have been working at the London and Paris fashion week before, so I am aware of how amazing and chaotic a show can be backstage, and my participation was just the same – the rush and stress of preparing every look and feeling when they enter the runway and you watch them on your little screen, and the reactions you see in the audience.




Picture by Joaquin Carbajales BARTHA AW19; 'High On Life' at VIA Design Graduate Show

After the show the designers had to be present with their creations and talk to people interested. This was a great opportunity to network and tell more about what the concept actually is. I met a lot of interesting people and got lots of positive feedback, invitation to collaborate, etc.


Wow, so it was a really busy time, doing so many fashion weeks. Was it your first time, to be part of Copenhagen Fashion Week?

Yes. But just to avoid confusion, I worked on the other mentioned fashion weeks, as part of the crew for other brands. For me as a designer, it was the first showcase at a fashion week.


Ah, okay. Yes, I misunderstood.

This season I will be back though, I will present a collaboration at CIFF.



Pictures by Kenny Back BARTHA SS19; 'Fish Society'


Oh, that’s great. What is your view on Danish fashion and Copenhagen Fashion Week, as a Danish educated Hungarian?

I think it is not a surprise that the world loves the so called ‘Scandinavian lifestyle’, the Danish design aesthetics, along with the mood and relaxed atmosphere, is needed in this rushing world.

Copenhagen Fashion Week is a great place, where many amazing designers meet as well as the cool labels I have chatted with at CIFF.


The Danish Fashion scene is also getting more international, getting more international attention and becoming more diverse, I think. But do you think birth place or genetic origin is relevant, when it comes to fashion design or personal style?

I think it depends on the concept of each designer.


Why do you think, fashion is so nationalized? I mean, it’s always brought up, whether a brand is French, Italian, Danish or whatever! Like I’ve done in this interview…

I don’t think it is nationalized, at least not necessarily from the side of the designer. What the audience perceives is different, which the designer cannot control totally.

If people want to see something as Danish design, they will see it like that. It depends on the branding, if a label wants to put focus on which country they represent.
With my label, I am trying to support production facilities in Europe, but the label is focused on the established conceptual thinking.

I think, these days authenticity and innovative thinking is much more important, than where the design is coming from.
In terms of design, to avoid misunderstanding, not in terms of production. It is important to be able to trace where your items and how your items are made.


But what about fashion as an international industry, for example the fashion weeks are also organized and categorized by nation, with branding that focuses on nationality. I know it’s not your decision, but what are your thoughts on it?

I think it is natural, that a country wants to help and promote their own nationality and support designers from that specific country. But if you look at the participants, they are mixed, fashion has to be from various sources and backgrounds.
Like when Anne Sophie Madsen presents at Paris Fashion Week or one of the designers I worked for, Manish Arora, is a very famous Indian designer and he is presenting at Paris Fashion Week as well.



Fashion has no nationality, people do.


Picture by Joaquin Carbajales BARTHA AW19; 'High On Life' at VIA Design Graduate Show


I’d like to talk more about your showing with VIA. At Copenhagen Fashion Week, one of your associates (I believe it was your Brand Manager) told me, that your designs are based on your personal history and your own life experience – can you elaborate on that, how do you use your own life experiences in your design process?

Yes, he was a branding colleague, who summed up my design concept pretty accurately.

As a designer, we interact and react to the happenings in the world, as well as to happenings in our life, thus we work from experiences and memories as well.
Involving my personal history in the design development allows me to form an authentic and personal statement on issues.

For example, the collection I am working on at the moment is called Fish Society, and it is based on my memories of escorting my parents to protests and party speeches, when I was a kid. Since the actual political situation in every country is so unique and fragile, and plays a huge role in the happenings in the world, it is natural an artist reflects on it.


Picture by Kenny Back BARTHA SS19; 'Fish Society'

Now, I form my own opinion on who I support and what I think about the politics in my country and that voice is transferred into this rebellious group, who act as a mocking glass to society.


Wow, that sounds really interesting.

Your branding colleague also said the experiences – behind the collection you showed at cpfw – were rather dark experiences, but the collection you showed was very lively, colorful and bright. How did that translate to the styles in the collection?

The collection is a bittersweet storytelling. It draws a metaphor between drug addiction and the sometimes desperate search for happiness.


Picture by Joaquin Carbajales BARTHA AW19; 'High On Life' at VIA Design Graduate Show

So, you can see that every addiction has 2 sides: the ecstatic feeling and the seeking.
With the visual elements, shape and tactility of the looks I tried to express this ecstatic feeling, experienced by the subject of this metaphor.


And the seeking?

I kind of see the colour white as our naked soul, like a page on which nobody wrote anything yet.


Picture by Joaquin Carbajales BARTHA AW19; 'High On Life' at VIA Design Graduate Show


And it’s just addiction in general as a concept?

So, if you observe the looks, they are all a transition between white and the strong graphical prints. In my world, it tells a story on how a person gets from one state to an other.


Picture by Joaquin Carbajales BARTHA AW19; 'High On Life' at VIA Design Graduate Show

For me that is the seeking, but again, I can send a message, but the receiver decides what they take from it.


How does it influence you personally, that your own stories are translated and, in a way, publicized in your designs?

This is a choice I make, when I decide to involve something from my personal experience.
I decided to share stories and memories because, through them, I want to send a message, in the case of my graduate collection: about drug addiction and the despair to be perfect, or in the case of Fish Society about the freedom of speech, and the importance of our voice.

I am not afraid or ashamed of my personal history, on the contrary, I want to use my conclusions to attract attention the issues important to me.

As an artist, I use the material I got, to create true art.


Now, we’ve talked about past experiences, but what about future ones, what do you hope to experience in the future, both private and professionally?

Private: I would like to keep on developing myself as a designer, grow as an artist, and innovate as a design thinker, as well as interact with people interested in my work and learn more about what they perceive from my messages.

Professionally: I would like to achieve an established label with a steady base and a unified, strong voice, as well as build my team, who believe in my values and support each other. Hopefully with the presence in the fashion scenario by showcases, collaborations and growing the European market, I can promote the innovative mindset I am representing with the label and attract attention on how a young fashion label can build a unique, authentic concept, while considering various sustainable aspects.

I would also like to explore more sustainable options and work on the ones I committed to already: zero waste, no animal product, conscious design and production, friendly workplace.


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