It has never been her dream to become a model; despite that, thanks to her looks, she makes plenty of money to this day. Zuzana Osako is a nice, inconspicuous girl from Moravia, who got married in Japan. Then, after years, she returned with her family and established her own business - she makes national bespoke costumes. Costumes, which you can even wear to work and feel like a goddess in them. In an interview with Luxury Prague Life she talked not only about national costumes, inspired by Moravian traditions, but also about life in Japan.
I certainly do not consider myself to be globally prominent. I have been doing advertising for big global brands since I´ve been fifteen, but only for various chocolates, shampoos or for example fabric softeners. Those kind of things that make life enjoyable, when I put on a great smile, which sells. But I have never been a “fashion” model, presenting famous fashion brands on the catwalk.
I do not know if there are tens, or hundreds. There has been a lot of them…
The very first was for Disco biscuits and that´s how it all started. I was fourteen and a lot of people remember me from the nineties. In that advert I appeared with in-line skates and on a carousel. Now I am making Dobrá voda (mineral water) campaigns.
Well, my looks must be terribly versatile, because nobody recognises me from those commercials. (laughter)
When I get an offer I like, then I am. But on the whole, it is mainly advertising abroad.
I had my children early on. I met my future husband one summer, we got married the second summer and a year after that our first son was born. The other two children were born when we lived in Japan. I could not work very well there, because I was illiterate. I learned to speak the language fluently within one year. I used to teach painting and I myself was learning to paint with ink. But otherwise I could not do anything where I would need to read and write. So I had had plenty of time to have children. I have always wanted - if one is to have a family, then a big one. And my number was five children.
Well, I think that only grandchildren. (laughter)
It was! (laughter) On the other hand, I had lived completely differently and I used to hear a lot about it. When I was fifteen I went for a year to Milan and I kept going a flying somewhere all the time.
Rather, I was not prepared for it. Because I was not interested in that country and I was not at all interested modelling. It did not attract me and I didn´t feel in my own element. Rather, I kept saying to myself that I am not enough "something". Not tall enough, not thin enough, whatever. So, I was doing it mainly for the money, to enable me to study design abroad. That was my main motivation, for going to castings. When I was ten years old I went for my first casting.
Imagine, that this whole thing had been thought up by my mother! She knew that I am interested in fashion, so she wanted to bring me closer to that sphere through modelling.
We have been kind of long-distance dating for half a year. About a month after I returned, he moved to Madrid to be closer to me. He did not have any friends here, so he used to fly to meet me. And when I had my 18th birthday, he came to my parents to ask for my hand.
They had known about him. They knew him from photos, so in my opinion they were not surprised enough. I think that their perception was that he is a man of good family, with great manners and that he is good to me. They simply saw him as a man and did not think about race or culture.
No, we got divorced this year.
We have put a lot of effort into it over many years, but it simply did not work.
He lives in Tokyo.
He visits them once every two months. And the children fly over there about four times per year for a week or two.
We have been here the first four years as a basis. But until the eldest son started school we had been constantly travelling around the world. Then we lived in Japan for five years and now we have been here for nine years. For them these are two homes that they are completely familiar with.
Czech, Japanese, English and Spanish. They are still studying Spanish.
One doesn´t easily forget that.
No, it is not. It is not difficult for a Czech, because phonetically we have exactly the same syllables. Many words sound exactly the same, they just have a different meaning. So, if you are learning Japanese, either through listening, or from a book, which is written in Roman alphabet, then that is fine. Only the writing is a problem.
I have painted since I was little and I have always known that that is what I wanted to do. Actually, around the year 2008 there was a boom of fashion and commercial illustration, so I created a portfolio and it was a success. Soon I was able to illustrate full time and make a good living out of it.
When we lived in Japan, I painted our national costumes, because I wanted to show the Japanese at an exhibition what they look like. The Japanese spectacularly take care of their own traditions and national affairs, so there you can constantly see exhibitions or festivals. They know how to communicate it, take care of it, they have fun with it. This is why I wanted to engage in a dialogue and show them our treasures. Details of our hand-made embroidery or hand-painted fabrics.
I also compared their and our culture. I knew that here it is rather a prerogative of folklorists in certain regions. And there, moreover, only in some families, i.e. just a handful of people. So I told myself: After all, people can enjoy it much more, get together more! Even in the villages people don´t meet as much...
As much as they used to, because they get into the car, drive to work, come back and are together at home. In the past, people used to get together much more. So that was the idea, I began to paint our national costumes. Then I joined the Community South-Moravian Foundation and even though I lived in Prague, I used to go there. I liked the projects which connected people. We had a project which we called Live Folklore, and we wanted to revive folklore. For the people to again begin to be interested in it and for all to enjoy it. I for example love the scenes when the Moravian lad rides a horse, jumps off and sings and dances verbuňk - (male folk dance from Slovácko - transl. note). These are in fact sensational and beautiful moments, which a person from Prague doesn´t know anything about, you simply have to experience it!
This was connected to the fact, that I painted old grandmothers, who wear national costume every day throughout their entire life. They have working-day, simpler and very wearable folk costumes. In fact, this is not just about people who dance outdoors at social events in those overly elaborated, festive costumes, which one could hardly wear apart from celebrations.
I used to go to their homes, they were sitting down in a costume, all dressy, just sitting down. I have always chatted to them for two or three hours and I realised that their costumes, which they wear every day are really fantastic clothes, in which they look beautiful, whether they work in the field, or cook in the kitchen. Simply always! When my great-grandmother went at five in the morning to the garden to dig around her vegetable patch, she put into her dress the same effort like a lady politician nowadays when she is to have a public speech. She had a costume of beautiful colours, beautiful fabric and it suited her to perfection.
In Japan, Austria, Germany, but even in America - they all have their own traditions. And I realised that here we have our national costume, that we need to revive and reintroduce.
The idea of people nowadays is that the costume is decorated by sequins and that there is a lot of lace. But this is simply not true about the ones for everyday use.
People who looked at our website and realise that what we are doing are things for everyday life.
Not at all. You will simply go in a ladies´ suit, which is a bit more feminine and more embellished than lapels of a jacket which could have been a men’s suit.
On the contrary, I find it entertaining that few people buy the top and the bottom from the same fabric, i.e. the skirt and the jacket- “jupka”. “Jupka” - we have to revive that word. Or start to call it a jacket… But perhaps we should just press ahead with jupka, we should get used to it as Czechs! (laughter)
Take for example a Chanel jacket. If you say ´jacket´, you will not automatically imagine one by Chanel, you will think of something with lapels. That is a similar concept like a jupka. It is of waist length, close-fitting and it is decorated by lace or something decorative. But it is far more feminine.
I chose Petra myself as a model for my first campaign. Even though I would almost prefer if she were not so well known. But I could not find a woman whom I would visually prefer. I simply terribly like what she looks like, because she has beautiful curves as well as wonderful face.
I used to sew for myself and my children.
We lived within a super community there. We lived in the city of Kokura, it is like when you imagine Brno. It is a city for families and older people, it is kind of quiet. And our children went to a Catholic school, something like Waldorf or Montessori. Parents are very much engaged. In the mornings, we, as mothers, when the children were in the kindergarten, spent our time by making things for the children, we sew things for them and for ourselves. So, in that community it was nothing unusual. I did not stand out or feel different from the others. Only in the beginning it was these mothers who had very much helped me learning Japanese.
I have terribly enjoyed it. I really immersed myself into their cuisine and flower arrangements, simply everything I have had the opportunity to learn from someone, mainly the ink painting. But even so, I´ve had enough over those five years.
I did first go with children to Moravia. We were having our first marital crisis and I spent a year with the children there. The children tried the elementary school which I attended as a child. And after a year when we gave our marriage a second chance, we told ourselves that the children should be in an environment where both parents understand the language of the school. And since then the children are at an international school and they study in English.
I don´t have any problem with Czech education system, quite the contrary. I think that healthcare and education is excellent here, and we have the huge advantage, that at this level it is free for all. What saddens me about Czech schools, is the behaviour of children among themselves. It is really harsh, unnecessarily unkind. And the teachers are usually not a good moral model of how deal with such situations. Oh, I would have wished that the education precisely of those who teach would change. For the teachers to be led to be a moral model.
But perhaps as we all remember from our school years that it is rather an exception. How many teachers can you name about whom you can say: That was an amazing person! One or two. And the rest has favourites, were bossy, failed to resolve any issues fairly, mainly to have the problem quickly dealt with. The nine or eight hours a day in school really shape up the personality of the child. And then they will not be able to in their own lives approach problems within their own team. At the international school this is really far better.
Our domain is custom-made tailoring. We are endeavouring to widen the production and in the salon we are constantly trying to improve and extend what we can offer to our customers. In the past year we have also built a ready-made line for adults as well as children and house textiles. Therefore, I simply still work very hard. But that is because I really enjoy it!