Bora Aksu’s Spring/Summer 2019 London fashion show a Gypsy tale inspired by Romani poetess Papusza

Bora Aksu paid homage to a distinguished historical character once again with his Spring/Summer 2019 (SS19) Ready-To-Wear Collection that debuted with a dazzling catwalk at London Fashion Week last month.

The acclaimed London-based Turkish designer’s latest collection is inspired by renowned twentieth century Romani poetess Bronislawa Wajs, widely known as Papusza.

Aksu’s SS19 eye-catching garments symbolised different aspects of Papusza: a colourful, nomadic life in Poland; her desire to be educated in stark contrast to most women in her community who remained illiterate; and, after becoming a child bride at the age of 15 to an older man, her melancholic and sensitive self that used singing as an outlet to express her sorrow.

Her melancholy didn’t stop even after she was noticed by the Polish poet Ficowski, who published her poems. Yet this fame became her downfall; she was accused of revealing the secrets of her community’s culture and disowned by them. It led to a breakdown and an eight month stay for Papusza in a mental hospital. She tragically remained isolated for the next 34 years of her life before her death in 1987, and in the years since, her work and life has been plucked from obscurity to be celebrated.

Bora Aksu SS19 Ready-To-Wear Collection, London Fashion Week, 14 Sept 2018


Aksu does just that with a vivid mixture of vibrant floral prints and soft silk tulles and laces, which have become trademark characteristics of the Izmir-born designer. As we’ve seen in earlier collections, Aksu opts for light and pastel shades, which arrive in whites, creams, soft blues, pinks and blacks, together with gypsy-esque colours, such as lilacs, purples, corals and hot pinks.

Reflecting the Romani gypsy lifestyle and dress code of the early 20th century, Aksu balances Papuzsa’s colourful character through romantic, sharp lines and gothic elements, while maintaining softness. The designer acknowledges this extraordinary woman with a soft-spoken nomadic message in his embroidered cut-out lace patterns, as seen on the dresses’ collars, cuffs and ribbons. Dresses are completed by knitted head pieces with flower embroidery, created by Liria Pristine.

Aksu’s show proved a hit with fashion critics and media alike. His 14 September catwalk featured on the front pages of The Times and The Daily Telegraph, while Grazia’s Fashion Editor Lucy Morris described his ensembles as, “Heavenly detailing and a varied vivid palette [that] made Bora Aksu’s SS19 collection a compelling competitor for event dressing.”