Kukeri..! A new book Charlotte Wales & Chopova Lowena... styled by Agata Belcen, designed by Jamie Reid and published by Claire de Rouen. With text by CDR Director Lucy Kumara Moore.
‘Kukeri’, a rhythmic, witty kind of word, is the name of the men dressed up as monsters for Surva, an ancient Bulgarian Winter folk festival. Wearing hand made-masks, embroidered and beaded clothing and heavy belts of bells, the Kukeri dance along the streets to ward away evil spirits. Plus! Surva is about encouraging bountiful harvests and celebrating the coming-of-age of a community’s young men. All in all, it’s an important, centuries-long tradition that has largely paid no need to the shifting sands of time (the costumes are often kept in the family and handed down through generations… Although one thing has changed – in recent times, women have begun to participate in the festival as Kukeri, too).
For their most recent collection, fashion designer duo Chopova Lowena (Emma Chopova from Bulgaria/US + Laura Lowena from the UK) crashed together two strands of inspiration – 1) the Bulgarian Kukeri and 2) 1980s wrestling culture, seeing connections between these two types of orchestrated ritual – both involve DIY costumes and over the top performance.
In Kukeri, Charlotte Wales travels with Chopova Lowena to Pernik, Bulgaria, to document this year’s festival. Not stopping there, she also shoots the new Chopova Lowena collection on location in Bulgaria and in a London studio, too.
Kukeri is part fashion catalogue, part documentary, part exploration of wild identity mash-up, character swaps, costume traditions and fantastical athletic personae.
Published in an edition of 400.