You have chosen luxury, custom-made lingerie as your path. How so?
I studied women's clothing in London, and I always really enjoyed doing something more form-fitting, smaller. The first thing I started experimenting with was a swimsuit. But that didn’t really interest me, because I have a bit of a material fetish, I like delicate lace and silk chiffons. And so this path led me to undergarments. Of course, this is completely different from classic skirts, dresses and the like. So I went back to London, this time for a specialized lingerie course, and learned how to work with it.
How did you even get into design?
I had studied French at Charles University for five years, and just before the state exam, my first husband got a job in London. He convinced me to make the move with him, at first for just a few months. We had a tiny son then, so I decided to interrupt my studies and go. But since I’m not the type to stay at home, I wondered what to do in London. After all, even now, as I'm expecting my fourth child, I'm still trying to do something and keep working. And because London is a city of fashion and design, a veritable creative hub, I applied to the London College of Fashion. This turned out to be a smashing success, because it's a very prestigious school, where until then only two Czechs had studied…
How did you manage it?
It wasn't easy with a small child, but I didn't want to give up. Not only did I graduate from the College of Fashion, but I also received a grant from the London Business School as part of my master's degree, so I studied two schools simultaneously while raising a baby.
Was it worth the effort?
It certainly helped me a lot, because I am more into creativity, and the local government had just offered us in our last year at the College of Fashion the opportunity to gain insight into the business world by studying at the London Business School. This is because creatives generally cannot identify their market, their customer, prepare a strategy or financial plan very well. That education was fabulous but mainly beneficial. And I think it would be appropriate to focus on similar aspects of education here in the Czech Republic too.
Do women perceive intimate fashion differently in London?
I think so. When I returned here in 2010, the market was really different. But I think that now, after 11 years, the differences are slowly fading.
What response did you encounter to your tailor-made lingerie project in the Czech Republic? Was it a gap in the market or did you have to work your way up to success?
At first it was a gap in the market, but now brands producing lingerie have exploded. But I still feel that people here don't really understand the difference between tailor-made lingerie and buying lingerie in an ordinary store. It has also been my experience that Czech customers still don’t fully perceive the differences between different materials, craftsmanship and quality in general.
And are they willing to pay for tailor-made lingerie?
I have clients who know what they are looking for, what they are going for. They already have certain material and processing requirements. They want it to not to be too tight, and in most cases, they wear luxury brands anyway. They want the best for themselves, that is, perfectly fitting lingerie, which is the most important aspect of lingerie in general. After all, every woman is different. We can custom design with different shape deviations. In fact, no size is a problem, and mainly the lingerie then fits her and is comfortable.
Where do you get materials?
I still have contacts in London, so mostly from there. And if I want some gold components, I source from France.
Do Czech women welcome your individual approach?
Yes, I think so for sure. That's why they more or less come to me because they can relax and enjoy themselves with me. They can openly tell me what specific lingerie they want. For a perfect result, it is vital that they are not afraid to entrust me with their needs.
How old is your oldest client?
I didn't ask directly, but I think around 60-65. I like it when women aren't afraid of it. It's great when an older woman comes along, who, for example, has longed for tailored lingerie all her life. I had a client who wrote me beautiful e-mails and read all my articles and watched my TV show (Fashion with Tereza Vu on Czech Television). She was such an admirer of mine. And you wouldn't say that of her at first glance. She wanted a silk bra that wouldn't squeeze her anywhere. She then had two bras made exactly the way she had always wanted. I am very happy when customers come in having even fuller shapes, are bold and easily go for the red set. Self-confidence when choosing lingerie is the key and is actually the most important thing.
What are the most common requirements of your clients?
Mainly comfort. Mostly they want something comfortable yet nice-looking. They often dress even in sports undergarments, for example, because they don’t know of other options. And then there's the second robust clientèle, women who want something erotic.
Are there still lingerie trends that you follow? Colors, cuts? Or are there no limits to your imagination and the key is for you to make your client happy and beautiful?
I don't really follow trends too much. Of course, I sometimes go to trade shows, for example to Paris to Interfilière. There are always a lot of suppliers and interesting lectures, but my work is not really so much about trends as it is about product quality. Therefore, it does not really matter whether the lingerie has a pattern following the latest trends.
Where do you get inspiration?
There is always a story behind each of my collections. It is absolutely essential for me that the individual collections are complex, and it is the back story that contributes to creating and maintaining a unified line, without which no collection would be a collection. Once it was Alice in Wonderland, the second time the libertine movement, and so on. Of course, everything is reflected in the subsequent communication, whether it involves photos or mood videos.
What does your creative process look like?
I'm definitely not in the habit of taking paper and drawing collections like I did at school. I don't have time for that, because I’m either catering to clients or designing collections for Fashion week, which comes twice a year. In other words, I don’t draw, but because I have a visual memory, I see it all in front of me, and it materializes before my eyes. That’s my creative process. And the more complex it is, the happier I am.
And what do you consider your greatest success to date?
It's nice that I managed to realize my TV show, I'm terribly pleased. Because it helped not only me, but also a lot of people in the industry. It had a lot to do with enlightening the Czech viewer. Many people have written to me that they value my insight into the fashion business, and that it was interesting for them to learn how the individual fashion professions work. I also see my success in that I have my own studio and that I do what I enjoy. My job is my hobby.
Where can we find or even touch your collection?
I regularly attend the Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Week. And then I have my studio in Letná, where I receive clients.
How long does it take to sew one set?
When I'm in a hurry, I'm able to do it in one day, but it normally takes around two to three weeks.
So since the gentlemen probably won't have time to buy it by Christmas, do you also offer gift vouchers?
Yes, at my e-shop www.terezavu.com you can also buy vouchers that can be set at any value.
What are your plans for your collection in the future? Will you stick with just lingerie?
I would enjoy a lot of things. When I'm older (maybe in 20 years ☺), I would like to try making shoes. I really admire the shoemaker. But for now, I'm not planning to throw myself into anything new.
Do you also manage to fulfill your personal goals, or has work completely consumed you? How do you rest? What do you enjoy?
I love sports. I really like to run, which I currently can't do unfortunately. But I usually clear my head that way. Several of my collections were created, incidentally, while running.
But you also do charity work.
Yes, I have worked, for example, on a project to support deaf and autistic children.
Do the quality and exclusivity characteristics of your work have to be reflected in your living? Based on what criteria did you choose your new home? Why the Šárecký dvůr project?
JI have always longed for a home with its roots grounded in history. And when I got pregnant with my fourth child, we started looking for something bigger to fit all of us. And when I noticed the project Šárecký dvůr, where everything was made from the original Baroque stables, I went there to look, and I said to myself: “That's what I want.” Then I came to a second meeting along with my husband and the children, who told us that they would really like to live there. And the third contact was already a reservation agreement. I was enthralled by the combination of modernity and the historical context. Not to mention the neighborhood. It's quiet and it's just outside the Šárka Valley, you can even hear frogs there. And yet it's practically downtown.
Was furnishing a Shell & Core apartment a challenge for you?
I really enjoy the idea that I can fine-tune everything to my liking. Now I'm still surrounded by tiles and everything, in fact, I'm still dealing mainly with sorting out our home. I'm really looking forward to it, and I keep pushing the parties involved to complete it by January so I can leave the maternity ward and go straight there.
What must not be missing in your home for such an important warmth of home?
We have a lot of books; we are literally surrounded by them, and we love it. I have my design books, my husband has his marketing and historical books, on the night stand I have the ones we are currently reading. Libraries are simply the dominant feature of our apartment. Actually I too grew up like this. Otherwise, of course, our children embody the warmth of home.
Your lingerie is beautiful and provocative. Has it saved any marriages yet?
Thank you for the compliment, of course it's provocative. That's actually intentional. I really hope it has saved at least one marriage, and I immodestly think it wasn't just once. I've heard a lot of stories. For instance, recently my girlfriend confided: “It worked!! We argued, but we made up.” I'm glad for any story like that. I know from my own experience that quality lingerie is good for a relationship.
Thank you for the interview.
After high school, Tereza began studying French at Charles University, which she later interrupted and terminated prematurely. Her love of fashion, quality fabrics and crafts took her in a completely different direction. She graduated from the prestigious London College of Fashion and later began to develop her own brand, which specializes in luxury, hand-sewn lingerie. She regularly participates in fashion weeks and other prestigious fashion and social events. And her twelve-part television show Fashion with Tereza Vu, broadcast on Czech Television, where Tereza became a guide to the world of fashion and the latest trends, is also well worth watching.