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On truth, honesty and sophistication, on fashion trends and loving life without covid restrictions

Fast Confession - Etiquette expert Ladislav Špaček: I swear by the classic style

Šárka Kabátová
26.Nov 2021
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4 minutes

It is an honour to have the opportunity to take a break from the hustle and bustle of preparations and, shortly before the start of the Natali Ruden fashion show, spend a moment with the man who would soon take on the role of the host of the gala evening - a man whose name rings familiar to many, Ladislav Špaček. He is not only a top expert in the field of etiquette, but also has experience as a former spokesman and director of the press department of the President of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel. He confided in that those had been the best years of his life and told us which skills a spokesman for the head of state needs to have. Furthermore, we also learned what fashion style he prefers and how he admires the hard work, creativity and energy of strong women. Last but not least, he revealed to us a secret piece of advice given to him by his father, which he lives by to this day.

You have been cooperating with Natali Ruden for quite some time now and you actively follow her work. How do you see its development, what progress have you noticed and what do you find appealing about it?

Natali has been a constant on our fashion scene for 20 years. We have been cooperating together for a relatively short time. During that time, I couldn’t notice any major development. Especially not during the lockdown, when Natalie was praying to survive the trying times, people weren’t buying clothes, no balls were held and social events were cancelled. So what I have noticed about Natali is not progress in her work, I don't understand fashion all that much anyway. But I admire her incredible diligence, inexhaustible creativity and the enormous energy she puts into everything. When I watch the preparations for her show here backstage, and it's not even one of her bigger shows, I'm amazed at what that girl can pull off.

Luxusní byt 4+kk na prodej, Praha 7 – 296m
Luxusní byt 4+kk na prodej, Praha 7 – 296m, Praha 7

How big a role does fashion and its current trends play in your life? Do you succumb to them or do you stick to the classic style?

I swear by the classic style, because it seems to suit me and everyone expects it from me. Everyone knows that I will not be the person to pioneer some fashion fads. I have to wait, like the majority of us, before I try something new. When it comes to fashion trends, I'm not a frontman, I don't care about Fashion Week in Paris or New York, but of course, I like to be well-dressed, I have to wear formal wear and I have to make sure I practise what I preach. So that I wouldn’t break the rules I have invented.

How do you feel in the role of a host? Do you already have some experience with hosting fashion shows?

No, I've never been a host of a fashion show. I have hosted various events, though. Of course, when I worked for President Václav Havel, you could say I hosted press conferences and presided over many other conferences. So I do have some experience and I think I won’t do terribly, even though it's my first fashion show.

Which host is your guru and what do you find inspiring about them?

It doesn’t feel right to name people who are better than me, right when I'm about to go up on the catwalk. I'd rather keep that to myself, but of course, there are some legendary hosts I can mention. From my generation, it’s Vladimír Dvořák and Jiřina Bohdalová, but I was very young back then. Honza Čensk is great, of course. Leoš Mareš, he’s such a punk, he just goes all in. We could spend ages going through them one by one.

What is your opinion, as a former spokesman for President Václav Havel, on information from the Castle to the public about the health status of our current President of the Republic?

I took a personal vow of silence and refrain from any comments on the politics of the Castle. Because if I criticized their media policy - everyone does it, which is understandable, I'd really be projecting the message, "See, we've done a better job." If I said they are doing it wrong, I’d necessarily be implying that I was better than them. So it can't be me saying it, someone else has to do it.

What do you think the ideal spokesperson should look like?

Above all, they must be restrained, and they must adequately represent the institution or personality he works for. They must avoid any attempts at conflict on social networks, such as engaging in various debates, they must not communicate with other constitutional officials. He's just a civil servant, this small in comparison with any elected official. So, a proper spokesperson is more of an éminence grise that rather stays in the shadows. If you look back in history to some of our spokespeople, you’ll find out that you don’t even remember what, say, Václav Klaus’ spokesman looked like, and he was very active in the media.

What do you think about the campaign for unvaccinated people that features real photos taken in the covid sections of intensive care units?

I haven't seen it yet and I'm cursed with a sensitive soul. I bawl when I watch Pretty Woman, so I probably won't even look. But I think we need to use all means available to us to persuade those who aren't vaccinated to get the jab. Because experts are of the opinion that there is no other way out of this covid Hell, and I really want to live a normal life again. I want to travel, go to restaurants, enjoy myself, organize fashion shows…

Do you have any general advice that accompanies you through life?

I do, it was given to me by my father: "You have to clean your shoes every day."

Thank you for the interview.

I thank you.

Fast confession:

What do Czech billionaires have in common?

I'd say maybe modesty, they've learned it by now.

Ten years with Václav Havel in three words?

Fantastic time. The most wonderful years of my life.

Is intimidation a form of fair negotiation?

No, but there’s a thin line between that and assertiveness.

Do women communicate unpleasant things better?

I don't think so, women are more emotional and often spit things out without thinking.

Aren't monarchies a thing of the past?

Not by far. On the contrary, it’s becoming obvious it can be a far more cultured form of establishment than many a republic.

Is there anyone for whom you’d step into the role of a spokesman with the same enthusiasm and commitment as you did for Václav Havel?

If you had asked me 30 years ago, I'd have come up with a name, but not today.

If you needed a spokesperson yourself, who would it be and what qualities would you like them to have?

I'd rather do it myself.

Should a spokesperson communicate truthful information to the public at all times?

That's actually the most important thing. They cannot lie, they must always tell the truth.

The term "sustainable fashion” is a huge topic these days. Have you ever bought something in a secondhand store?

No, I’m not really into that. That's a bit of a fad, I’d say, isn’t it?

What advice would you give a sexual predator?

That he should take some pills, just like the people who have the opposite problem. They also take some pills, and sexual predators should probably try and gain control over their urges. Everything can be treated today.

Have you ever encountered unacceptable behaviour at the doctor's office?

No. I personally have not, but I know that many of my acquaintances complain about the behaviour of doctors. That's why I wrote the book Etiketa pro lékaře (Etiquette for Doctors).

Are you looking forward to the era when we will be able to buy your books with cryptocurrencies?

No, absolutely not. I don't recognize them as a currency, nor do I know how it works.

Is it true that sophistication is the best policy?

Yes, there’s no doubt about that. Sophisticated people tend to be popular and well-liked.

How many tie knots can you tie and what are their names?

Well, Shelby's knot, that's an easy one. Four in hand and Windsor. These three are probably the most common ones.

Are you going to see the fashion show? Do you like fashion shows?

I love fashion and I'm really looking forward to it.
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