Hailing from Amsterdam, new designer brand, Durga Universe, created by Dorit Kozlovski, brings a spiritual edge to contemporary fashion. The collection is a delicious mix of eccentricity, extravagance and colour – all underpinned by the brand’s motto of “reuse, reduce & recycle”. This is daring fashion at its very best and not one for shrinking violets! I caught up with Dorit to discover what makes her tick and what actually lurks in her closet…..
Hello lovely Boots Shoes and Fashion readers! I’m happy to contribute to this wonderful blog. I am Dorit, the creator and designer of Durga Universe. As the name Universe suggests – it is where everyone and everything exists. The fire Goddess Durga is my highest self / deity according to an Indian magi astrologist. (Goddess Durga symbolizes the divine forces (positive energy) known as divine feminine energy/ power that is used against the negative forces of evil and wickedness. Durga slays negative traits and is the joy in the cosmic dance of life.) These powerful names give me complete freedom to create sustainable fashion, music, art, shows and involve amazing artists of all areas! My mission is not only to create, but shed the light on a love based economy, where mass-production, greed and exploitation of people and resources have no room! I promote conscious consumerism.
What inspired you to launch Durga Universe?
I’ve always loved creativity. Living in Amsterdam for 10 years, I realized that creativity was a way to distract the mind from the desires that Amsterdam offers. This was really important for myself and my friends around me, who were all captured by an unhealthy lifestyle, yet at the same time so inspired by Amsterdam and the deep exploration of the almighty consciousness. In my darkest times, Durga was always the light at the end of the tunnel. The more I’ve been diving into the creativity, the happier I feel.
Have you always had a passion for fashion?
I’ve always had passion for beauty and fashion by expressing through colours and mismatching styles, mainly rebelling against the political constraints or people’s mindset. Many other reasons, for example: growing up in the Soviet Union, within the grey dullness; my father having been sentenced for 4 years in prison for secretly exporting vintage clothes to Estonia for “capitalist” activity; people wearing certain clothing in what was considered to be “appropriate” for the style of music or group setting – got me to express myself passionately. My dear friend, Manchester born Zoe Edge, says it well in a song we produced together “Be a lion,not a sheep”. I think that has also become the motto of Durga.
The collection is eccentric, extravagant, and brimming with a kaleidoscope of edgy colours – I do so love colour- what was the inspiration for the vibrant collection?
Durga is all about colour. To liven up the streets from being dominated by grey, black and blue shades, that seem to be absorbed by the masses. To awaken to oneself as a God/ Goddess and realise that we are all responsible for how we live our life and how we live/think/feel/perceive each day. Durga creations emphasize the uniqueness of each and every one of us, therefore, they are one of a kind designs that I try not to define as a “collection”. A collection to me is the notion of time and season, whilst Durga is about creating timeless designs not constrained by specific year or season.
I totally love the “Durga Psychadelic Metamorphosis Butterfly Dress” and the “Extravagant Eccentric Vibrant Purple Faux Fur Coat”. What outfits have proved popular so far this season? Have you got a personal favourite?
Thank you very much. I can’t define the popularity of Durga designs in a particular season. When I checked the favourites that people have chosen in the Durga Universe Etsy shop, the most attention has been given to the up-cycled art coats/ jackets for men by graffiti artist Cian Muggler and my crochet blended colorful scarf dresses.
My personal favourite is the Ethnic Eccentric Faux Fur coat, it reminds me of Mongolian shamanism, Asian spirituality, accentuated with glam rock faux fur. The coat combines so many different elements, even pieces of my sons’ red vintage jeans…
All your photo shoots feature local talent and locations that showcase the allure of Amsterdam. It certainly is a fantastic city and really epitomises your motto – daring fashion for urban gods and goddesses. Have you got any favourite locations in Amsterdam? Where was the most oddest/most daring photoshoot spot?
Amsterdam is truly the playground for magic and creativity. The oddest shooting was in my favourite bar, the Blarney Stone. After 2 attempts of filming a bar scene for the video “Forgiveness”, after getting the whole crew together – firstly, there was a problem with camera; second time,the light. On the third attempt, the gathering of people for our shoot disappeared and our leading man Tom could not stay. However, we found a Welsh rugby team enjoying a stag party in the bar. I asked them all to get involved in the set: as security for holding back the crowds passing by during the filming and of course, the stag himself playing the actor part. It was getting very dangerous as the shoot was going on a long time… some team members got a bit messy and the expensive equipment was in jeopardy! It really tested the patience of Xander productions and Visual Susana. As crazy as it was with all the mad energy in and outside of the Blarney; it surely was the most odd and funniest experience so far during the set.
Which famous lady and gent would you love to see as the “faces” of Durga Universe?
A Durga bearer can be anyone appreciating a bit of magic, daring, perhaps in the path of reconnecting with one’s true nature. I do admire free spirits, those not afraid to express themselves. It would be an honour if Roisin Murphy would wear Durga. My new project – 100% hemp coats representing Goddesses/ Gods painted by different artists should be completed by the end of Spring 2016. I would love to ask Sinead O’ Connor to wear one of the coats (perhaps the “Tree of Life”), to remind her how significant her music and poetry has been in raising awareness about paganism, showing true emotions, standing up against injustice. She was such an inspiration to me as a teenager. Perhaps I could regain her faith in herself and humanity. I could imagine Ian Brown from Stone Roses wearing the Fireface jacket painted by artist Cian Muggler.
You have travelled far and wide and Durga’s textile inventory includes ethnic handwoven textiles handmade by local Laos artisans, luxurious Indian silks, rare faux fur and vintage fabrics. What do you look for when choosing your textiles? What place/country impresses you most with its array of textiles?
Fabrics that are inspiring, colourful and have some sort of emotional value are unique and sustainable. I mostly go with the feeling and a lot of times, I get an idea when I see a certain fabric. Some fabrics are gifts from friends or family that later evolve into ideas. For example, the Long Classic Peacock Dress is made from sari material given to me by my mother years ago when she visited India and I just recently got an idea to make it into an open back dress with a longer back flair.
As you are based in Amsterdam, are your clothes available to overseas customers?
Absolutely. I have an online webshop and I also sell via Etsy.com, shipping worldwide. I intend to open my own atelier shop in Amsterdam soon.
Being well travelled, where is the most unusual place you’ve visited? What’s your favourite location? What country/place is currently number one on your travel bucket list?
Travelling is truly important in my life and such a contribution to my happiness. I think I’ve always travelled whether physically, in my imagination or within my consciousness. The most fascinating has always been travelling within myself. Regarding the physical travels, the most humbling and extreme was the Amazonian jungle in Ecuador, with massive spiders, huge paralyzing ants, big beautiful slow-motion colourful butterflies, birds and the dangers of anacondas etc. Closest to my heart is the ashram of my spiritual teacher, the hugging mother AMMA India. Number one on my bucket list is a Columbian jungle trip, visiting 11 shamanic tribes.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I am a huge fan of spontaneous vintage shopping. Most of the outfits I wear are vintage designs found from all parts of the globe. I also shop consciously in alternative stores. For example, Alien boots from Cyberdog in Camden.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
I love Etsy.com, where artisans from all over the world sell unique clothing. Vintage shops and markets everywhere. I do not support global corporations and corporate brands based on a greedy economy, pollution and slavery.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I am grateful of everything I have and not in need of anything particular. I do admire inspiring artists and recycling, which I gladly support.
Boots or Shoes?
Depending on the environment… definitely boots in the Netherlands, very practical due to the weather conditions; sandals in any warm country and barefoot whenever I can.
Links you would like to share:
Durga Universe social media links and shops:
Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/DurgaUniverse
Wow, Dorit, you are one interesting and sassy lady! Your clothes are very vibrant and I love your use of textiles too. I must say, your bucket list number 1 trip sounds very adventurous – if you do manage to go, I’d love to hear all about it! Dear readers, are you vintage/textile fans? Are you brave enough to wear bright colours? Are you adventurous? Do let me know how adventurous you are !
All photos have been published with kind permission from Dorit at Durga Universe. The photographers are: Xander Productions, Elena San Francisco Photography, Luca Chiapatti Photography. The models are: Sasha Kalashnikova, Marta, Sonia Lawicka, Ramona.