As we told you a few days ago in this article, in which we announced the return of Budapest Central European Fashion Week, its 11th edition, which has just concluded, promised to surprise us with new formats and formulas. Betting on significant changes – the substitution of fashion shows for presentations and the alliance with four places of cultural interest converted for several days into epicentres of fashion in the city – the event led by The Hungarian Fashion & Design Agency was ready to show us everything they had been working on for the last months. We were there from February 2 to 6 so now we are looking forward to sharing with you all our impressions. Are you ready?
It is not news that Budapest Central European Fashion Week offers one of the most complete experiences on the international fashion map to all its guests. Far from being a typical fashion week, in which you just attend show after show and the interaction with the rest of the editors, stylists and designers is restricted to a few minutes, the great date with fashion in Hungary immerses us in a multisensory experience with which to discover more about his talent in fashion design, of course, but also about their gastronomy, their incredible locations and their absolute friendliness and kindness.
Before diving into some of the presentations that most caught our attention -in a calendar in which we missed Nanushka and Aeron, – although the latter did hold a side event –  we must highlight the good planning and execution of all the BCEFW program activities. Their fantastic team led by Zsófia Jakab, CEO of the Hungarian Fashion & Design Agency, Anita Forintos-Szűcs, deputy CEO and Viktória Tolnai, Marketing and Communications Director, allowed us to spend the first day before the brand presentations kicked off in a location that is hard to describe in words: the Botaniq Castle of Tura.
This impressive castle, which was built by order of Baron Sigmund Schossberger as a sign of his love for his wife in 1883, offered us an experience in which there was no lack of an unbeatable gastronomic offer, activities with which to relax -always with the support of Omorovicza – and prepare for the frenzy of the following days, and a perfect opportunity to meet all the editors coming from different countries, as well as the different members that make BCEFW happen. But let's go with the presentations, this new format with which the organization wanted to encourage interaction between participating designers and professionals in the sector, offers creatives an opportunity to show their work as closely as possible and, ultimately, consolidate Budapest as a leading fashion capital in Europe.
The first location we head to once we left the fairytale castle was the National Dance Theater in Budapest. The modern building hosted the first presentations on the morning of February 4, starring four Hungarian brands – PelsoPinetime Clothing, Borbala and Daige –  and one Slovakian brand, Petra Kubikova. Among all of them, we must highlight the talent of Borbala, focusing on upcycling and plastic recycling and achieving a recognizable brand identity in a moment in which more and more brands, fortunately, are betting on this technique. Created from deadstock fabrics and leftover materials, this brand questions the fashion system by raising questions through a collection that is very alienated from the tastes of the young generations, where colours and textures intermingle with each other.
Bratislava-based designer Petra Kubikova also let us learn more about her vision of fashion. Her creative universe is closer to Japanese culture, just look at the shapes and silhouettes to realize the Asian inspiration in her looks. Fleeing from maximalism and offering refined looks defined by neatness and good technical execution, this brand was undoubtedly another must on the morning of the first day. But if there was a brand that offered us a really interesting experience, that was Daige, the last to reveal its work
Functionality, sustainability and design meet in the work of Melinda Tóth, founder of the brand, whose Fall/Winter 2023 collection has just celebrated the 10th anniversary of her project. Through layering and details in garments that a priori might seem wardrobe basics, and adding an extra dose of creativity with the experimental set that serves as a backdrop for her presentation, the designer achieved a great result.
After having lunch at Bobo Restaurant, a place that we strongly recommend and where in addition to a very good offer of seasonal products you can enjoy the great selection of Hungarian wines, we headed to the Aeron side event. Their team had just arrived from Copenhagen Fashion Week, where they decided to present their new collection on this occasion, welcoming journalists and friends of the brand to their wonderful store. A formula that demonstrates the intelligence of the project led by Eszter Áron, which continues to gain followers around the world, while expanding internationally always keeping in mind their home town, Budapest.
On the evening of February 4, we headed to the Hungarian National Museum, the second location of the program, where five brands presented their latest works: Elysian, Artista, Katti Zoób, Mero and Abodi. The collection unveiled by Dora Abodi, who leads the only Transylvania heritage contemporary high fashion brand, deserves special mention. She not only starred in one of the best moments of the evening but of the entire edition. Her collection showed evident creative maturity, a plausible coherence loaded with symbolism and meaning. Including in their presentation set a figure of a winged unicorn, a hybrid mythological animal which symbolizes something highly desirable but difficult to see, find and obtain, their pieces demonstrated their extensive technical knowledge. Creativity with a message that got great feedback from the audience.
The day ended with a cocktail night at Múzsa, the Bar of Four Seasons Gresham Palace, in line with The Hungarian Fashion & Design Agency's quest to make all of us enjoy an experience that combines music with tourism and gastronomy. Live music and even a ballerina enlivened a fantastic evening. The next day, the presentations would begin in a new location, the Museum of Ethnography in Budapest.
On the morning of February 5, we were able to see the new collections from five brands, the Hungarian Kata Szegedi, Cukovy, The Four and Tomcsanyi, and one Polish brand, Szcygiel. I think many of us agree when we say that Flora, the designer born in Budapest to a Nicaraguan mother and a Hungarian father and the creative mind behind Cukovy, starred in one of the great moments of the day. The brand established in 2014 makes changing parts one of its great strengths and demonstrated with her Embrace The Coldness collection that she knows the direction it wants her project to take. And everything indicates that she is on the right track to achieving it. The fitted silhouettes transformed back into the signature forms and shapes complemented by some multi-function accessories demonstrated a contemporary creative vision without sacrificing utility and functionality.
The minimalist set that the Museum of Ethnography offered us would give way to the last location, which was completely different and would house the last four presentations of the day. After lunch at Baba Restaurant, we headed to our last stop, the Budapest ELTE University Library, to get to know the latest collections from the Hungarian brands Virag Kerenyi and Sentiments, the Polish Rad Duet and the Slovakian Petra Kovacs. This location was undoubtedly one of the most surprising, demonstrating the success of the alliance with locations loaded with meaning in the city centre.
The evening presentations were defined by maximalism, featuring many colourful prints, headwear and accessories to match the outfits. In addition, these presentations were the ones that had the most similarities with the traditional fashion show among all those that we saw in the two days. We highlight a pink total look presented by Virag Kerenyi, which we can imagine many influencers wearing to protect themselves from the cold weather while keeping their own style. But if we have to go for just one brand, we choose Rad Duet. Founded in 2017 by two Polish fashion designers Maciej Józwicki and Juliusz Rusin, quality and craftsmanship are two of the strengths of this project. Their garments full of details demonstrated their talent in terms of technique and execution. There was also no lack of social and political demands, integrated into what was one of the most interesting collections of the day. Once the fashion shows were over, we enjoyed a closing cocktail at Flava Restaurant , in the fantastic Verno House hotel that opened its doors just a few months ago.
Will Budapest Central European Fashion Week definitively annihilate fashion shows as we know them? Will they go one step further in experimenting with the formats when it comes to showing the new collections? Will they consolidate these four historical places in the city as their favourite locations, or will they continue to show us Budapest with new choices for next season? We will answer these (and many other) questions in its next edition.

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Petra Kubikova
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Virag Kerenyi
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Rad Duet
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