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She has been shining bright in the world of fashion for 35 years. She has been commuting between two different cultures - Czech and Lebanese - for a large part of her life. She demands professionalism, does not know the meaning of the word “difficulty” and doesn’t even go on holiday!

Fast confession - Blanka Matragi: Instead of luxury I live in a workroom

Tereza Janatová
11.Nov 2016
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4 minutes
Special section
Blanka Matragi

She is particular about high quality materials, accomplished workmanship and so it is no surprise to anyone that she is reaping the rewards of success the world over with the most discerning of clientele.

Blanka Matragi
Blanka Matragi
Blanka Matragi working

Shining bright in the world of fashion for 35 years is an incredible success. It is clear that there is a lot of hard work behind that, but surely you can say what or who you above all owe your success to?

I of course owe that most to my husband, my team and the possibility of working for the richest and at the same time most discerning of clientele.

You have created a lot of collections over your time in the world of fashion. Which of them is “closest to your heart”?

The KUBIS and Universe collection which I built on in Elements.

The Elements fashion show is now coming to Prague on the occasion of celebrations to mark the 35th anniversary of your work. Why is it called Elements?

Life on our planet would not exist without the basic natural elements – water, earth air and fire. This is why I am returning to my roots in the “Elements” collection in these unsettled times …

Prodej luxusního domu, Praha - západ - 414 m2
Prodej luxusního domu, Praha - západ - 414 m2, Okolí Prahy

That was a very succinct reply considering how demanding preparations are. What exactly is Elements about?

In my 35 years of design, the attributes of elements always intermingled not only in clothing and works made of glass, but also in experimental industrial design. In this collection, I would like to combine my experience to date and show the development of the creative process. This is enriched by the latest technology, not only in materials, but above all in the approach and use of original innovative features with a 3D effect with features taken from optical illusions.

Which element is the most fundamental for you yourself when designing clothes?

TVAR – shape. 

But you are known for placing great emphasis on detail and perfection of workmanship when designing. What in your opinion is the most important thing when designing a collection?

Detail certainly divulges and says a lot, but the overall shape and perfection of workmanship is the most important thing.

Which materials do you like working with most and how much do you think about the price of the materials?

I like working with the latest innovative materials best, materials which represent a great challenge. They needn’t be expensive – it is about the product being enhanced from a design point of view with added value. Being able to quickly reflect the demands of the world.

It seems that you are meeting the demands of the world in full seeing as you have been so successful for so many years. How long does a collection like this usually take?

It can be done in four months. I worked on this collection for longer. It was created on the fly, when we had to handle a lot of orders.

That is a great burden for the people you work with too. Which qualities do your employees in fact require?

They must take a professional approach to their work. They must have an eye for flawlessly executed work, they must be flexible, react quickly and come up with new ideas.

If somebody came to you for a job interview, how many minutes would it take for them to make an impression on you?

I know after 5 minutes whether that person is able to meet my demands. Although sometimes people can surprise you – they must be given a chance.

You expect an excellent approach to work. Have a lot of people under you resigned due to that or were you lucky to find capable people who are not afraid to get stuck into their work?

A lot of people have left – the strong ones remain.

You once told me that you don’t understand why celebrities in the Czech Republic rent dresses for social events rather than buying them. Do you feel that this is an insult to designers, that their work is not appreciated as much as it should be?

It is an insensitive approach. How my customers who order and buy expensive items get this idea. One VIP client of mine has already indicated that if I were to rent dresses, she would stop buying clothes from me.

That is pretty harsh. What in your opinion is the best possible reward for a designer to ensure that they have a good feeling about the work they have done?

The fact that they are constantly in demand – I have been designing clothes for three generations of clients already.

But you don’t only do fashion collections. I myself once had the opportunity to visit a glass factory with you and it seemed to me then that creation of statutes gives you incredible energy. Is that true?

It gives me an amazing amount of energy to be able to take a break from work with clothing. And also the opportunity to work with men. ☺

How in fact did the idea of creating statues come to you? 

I have always approached design using 3D models and still do. Be this dresses, jewellery, enamel statues (Smalt Art – Vitkovice), glass objects or IGS – workshop.

Prodej exkluzivního domu, Praha-východ
Prodej exkluzivního domu, Praha-východ, Okolí Prahy

You are a very emotional woman and this is also reflected in your work. What has in fact surprised you most over the course of your whole career? Either in a positive or negative way.

I have always been surprised by interesting challenges, be these invitations to workshops or private orders for statues, pictures, glass objects or jewellery. The most negative moment was when my husband and I found ourselves held as political prisoners in Saudi Arabia via the fashion business – I talk about that in my books.

What is life in fact like for a woman in Arabic countries?

I have lived in the amazing Lebanon for 35 years. This is a very specific country. I would not be interested in living in any other Arabic countries.

Do you like living in the lap of luxury or could you get by without it?

I suppose it would be hard for anyone to imagine that I have spent the past 35 years including Saturdays living and working in workshops. I don’t go on holiday apart from when I travel to meet people or learn new things or for work. So I don’t know how to answer that question as I don’t live in the lap of luxury. ☺

But you must have some dreams. Which ones have you not yet managed to make come true?

Without dreams, there are no goals. A perfume for example or if someone were to film my life story. But I would probably have to conquer the world of show business a little more for that to happen.


Fast confession:

How do you take your coffee?

Black Arabic, sometimes espresso with milk.

What is your favourite place in Prague?

The Municipal House.

What is guaranteed to make you laugh?

Double meanings.

What makes you most angry?

Unprofessional behaviour.

Who is your favourite designer?

Alexander McQueen.

Czech Republic or Lebanon?


Fashion or sculpture?


What do you like best about your husband?


What does he like best about you?

Long ginger hair.

Love or career?


What do you not like about yourself?


Favourite colour?


Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Question by the interviewee to the editor:

How do I come across to you?

As a professional who knows precisely what she wants and strives to achieve it.
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Blanka Matragi
U Prašné brány 2 110 00 Praha 1 Česká republika
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