The fashion of a potential utopia – Lilla André’s contemporary togas

What would our clothing look like if the Roman Empire hadn’t fallen and would keep on defining our culture? Lilla André’s fictional design sought to answer this question, envisioning a utopia that incorporates toga as casual everyday wear.

Lilla combined the distinctive toga form with a shirt in a three-piece collection. Her garments borrow certain features and components of the shirt, for example shows its typical functions but blended with the folding options of the toga.

“I often think in narratives. Right at the start of the project I started wandering what would have happened if the Roman Empire hadn’t fallen, picturing a utopia where all of Europe was incorporated in this enormous empire.”

The toga was definitely not a masterpiece of tailoring: it is a gigantic piece of white canvas that people wore draped around their bodies using various folding methods. Each age group and segment of society had their own colour, way of folding and decorations. In addition, only a small fraction of the population was allowed to wear it – exclusively men – as a marker of position and rank. Partly for this reason, Lilla’s togas are specifically female garments, inspired by ancient statues, columns, surviving paintings, and the still popular kimono.

“Togas were neither practical, nor accessible to the majority of people, and in the last stages of the Roman Empire, they were no longer commonly worn. It is a good example of how troublesome pieces of clothing are weeded out with time.”

With its excess of fabric and folding style twisted around the waist, the garment brings the toga to mind, and so does the design based on asymmetry. One half is untailored, with one sleeve shaped like a loose tube, slightly taken in and sewn into the waist, while the other half has the cut of a blouse. The two distinctive designs intersect along hidden buttons and a tie, with a triangular, folded shape in the waist section.

“I wanted to create a modern piece that would blend in well with contemporary fashion, from ancient times, that I myself might like to wear.”

Lilla’s toga is a contemporary and yet timeless answer to her question, and we would no doubt be wearing it and similar ones in a parallel universe with an alternative historical outcome. Hopefully regardless of social standing or gender.

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The project was completed at the Textile Design BA programme of the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design.

Photo: Szelina Bodócs

Model: Petra Nagy

Szerző: Pintér Zia