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Hungarian designer Sandra Sandor knows what contemporary women want from their wardrobe: functionality, comfort and sophistication. While Sandor grew up in Budapest, she spent a year studying in Portugal when she was nine years old, went to university in London and often visits New York. Her time spent in suitcases taught her importance of ease in dressing, which she takes into account in her designs. Nanushka’s versatile style makes day-to-night dressing quick for women around the world.
Nanushka recently opened their flagship store in Budapest and premiered their AW18 collection at NYFW. Despite already achieving international recognition, they’re only just getting started. At the forefront of the artistic and commercial development of Budapest, Nanushka is a great example of emerging Hungarian talent.
What does the name mean? Why did you decide to use it as the name for your brand?
It was my childhood nickname! My name is Sandra so the typical nickname is Sandy, but Sandy became Nany because I couldn’t pronounce Sandy and then my father started calling me Nanushka.
How does Budapest inspire Nanushka?
Budapest doesn’t inspire my collections directly, but the city is the meeting point of Eastern and Western cultures. The Turkish Empire was there for years and you can still feel the remains of that. Then there’s a more classic, almost Parisian vibe. At the turn of the century, a lot of artists and writers originally from Budapest returned from Paris, bringing cultural references that they integrated into Budapest’s scene. This cultural mix inspires Nanushka, rather than just the traditional Hungarian roots.
What were your parents’ backgrounds and how did they influence you?
My mother designed a children’s clothing line. In my school years, I was in her photoshoots and then I would assist her in the shop on my breaks. I grew up surrounded by her work and it definitely made me appreciate and fall in love with clothes.
How did studying in London change your perception of fashion?
In Budapest, people are followers of fashion; it’s less about self-expression. But in London, I think it is the opposite. They’ve had a daring history with fashion – think of the punk and mod movements.
Did moving away change the way you saw your hometown when you returned?
Returning from London, I connected more with Budapest. It’s home for me so I connect the city with childhood memories, my family and friends.
How do you think Budapest has changed in the past few years and how does it continue to change?
There is a big demand for change from the people living there, especially from the younger generation. People want the city to represent their values. The past five years have been very exciting for the local culinary and art scene with a new, extremely ambitious generation putting Budapest on the map.
Besides Budapest, where else do you find inspiration?
Travel is constantly inspiring me. When you travel, you’re inspired by the traveller’s state of mind. You’re much more alert and receptive to your surrounding. You’re able to relate to people and your surroundings because of curiosity. You have fewer preconceptions and you want to absorb everything. It’s a very creative and inspirational state of mind.
For me, travel is also a metaphor for life and how you are in different stages of your life. It’s not only travelling from one place to the other but also a holistic mindset.
How does travelling affect your design process?
We design for the travelling customer, so comfort is essential and function is important. When we choose the fabrics and the style of the clothes, we’re constantly thinking about these conditions. I believe people will like the brand more in the long run if they feel comfortable in what they wear. We don’t use any fabric that crinkles or anything that could be itchy. When you travel, you only take your favourite clothes that you feel comfortable in. We want to be a brand that people pack.
What are your favourite activities when travelling?
I love going to museums and galleries. When I go to New York, I always go to the MET. I also like vintage shops from clothing and antique furniture to upholstery.
Where are three of your favourite travel destinations?
We often visit Andalusia in the south of Spain because my parents have an apartment there. They’ve owned it since I was 12 years old so I am very familiar with the area and I love the neighbourhood. I’m interested in the Moorish architecture. Morocco is definitely another one of my favourites. I’m also desperate to do a road trip across the southern states of America – New Orleans, Marfa, and Joshua Tree are on my list.
For travellers to Budapest, how would you recommend spending 24 hours…
In the morning I’d recommend the downtown market at Hold UTCA. It’s the perfect introduction to traditional Hungarian markets without having to leave the city centre. During the day, you have to visit the castle district. The Royal Palace in Szent Gyögy Teris is a gorgeous and iconic site on the Pest side of the city. Inside the palace is the Hungarian National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum and the National Széchényi Library. After a day of exploring, visit the Gellért Grand Hotel & Bath. It’s a historic hotel with the best thermal baths in the city. For dinner and entertainment head to Déryné, a classic bistro with live performances. Then finally for a drink, Telep is one of my favourite spots. On the ground floor, it’s a bar and an art gallery on the top floor.There are so many other amazing places, but these are a few of my favourites.
Who are other artists or designers from Budapest that we should keep our eyes out for?
Gergo Szinyova is an amazing Hungarian artist you should definitely check out.
What are your favourite pieces from your SS18 collection?
The Fleur top – it ties as a scarf in the back and has self-covering buttons in the front and the Kioa jacket – it’s jungle jacquard.
What should we look out for in the AW18 collection?
We continuously use this faux leather material that’s washable and this season we have it in a bright red – I’m really excited about that!
What is one part of Budapest you think visitors often overlook?
We have great mountains a 15-minute car drive from downtown. Every tourist focuses on the city sights when it comes to Budapest and no one goes out to the Buda mountains. It’s such a shame as it is beautiful and there are many great hike tracks around.
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