Ascher Challenge at Munich Creative Business Week

4. 5.-.2. 6. 2023
Munich Creative Business Week, Czech Centre Munich, Prinzregentenstraße 7, Munich, Germany.


Accompanying programme

May 11th, 2023 at 7 p.m.
Lecture: Lenore Jurkyová – Ascher_renewed


There are projects that do not age. One of them is the Ascher Challenge, which was prepared by students of the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague (UMPRUM) on the occasion of a large exhibition devoted to the textile work of the Ascher family, Mad Silkman. Zika & Lida Ascher: Textiles and Fashion, was presented at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague in 2019. Now the project being presented is of young talents, who were given the opportunity to design their original textile collections using fabrics from the famous textile company Ascher, which will be presented during the Munich Creative Business Week at the Munich Czech Centre.

Ascher Challenge at Munich Creative Business Week

Zika Ascher and his brother opened a luxury cloth shop in Prague in 1933, but in March 1939 he and his wife were forced to leave for London. From the 1940s to the 1980s, he supplied the leading French and English fashion houses (e.g. Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior) with exclusive fabrics, collaborated with leading artists (Henry Moore, Cecil Beaton, Henri Matisse, Barbara Hepworth, and Alexander Calder) in their creations, and also enjoyed working with students and young people throughout his life. As early as 1946, he launched the "Try Your Hand" competition, which attracted about ten thousand young people. This is also why the curator of the exhibition, Konstantina Hlaváčková, connected the original head of the Fashion Design Studio, Pavel Ivančice, with the descendants of this family and a unique collaboration was created, where the students were able to give the original fabrics and design new forms of treatment and the perspective of contemporary young people.

Although the Ascher firm is no longer active, its heirs Peter and Robin Ascher have provided a selection of different fabrics from their archives - stretch cotton satins, twill weave linens, silk scarves, silk satin, batiste, and a variety of printed cotton fabrics. Students were provided with fabrics from different periods, different materials, and patterns. Each of the young designers was tasked with creating a collection that reworked the original fabrics with a unique pattern in mind. In addition, they were also tasked with linking the project to modern technology, while having to fully respect the fabrics and copyright.

"Despite the initial enthusiasm, it turned out to be a complex task that set various limits. But students approached it with vigour all on their own. The opportunity to work with such unique materials and to meet and consult with the Aschers' son Peter and his wife Robin was certainly a strong motivation for them. It was a very ambitious task, but the students did not disappoint", says Pavel Ivančic, the then head of the studio, about the intensive semester project.

Among the individual collections, Karolina Liberová's project is worth mentioning, it focuses on positioning the materials freely. Karolína used the patterns for car seat covers as a basis for her models. Here she combined black velvet and twill with prints of Henry Moore's sketches, resulting in an alternative to elegant evening dresses. A different approach was taken by Barbora Kotěšovcová, who was inspired by the morphology of floral motifs and transformed her dress into the shape of a flower.

"The Ascher Challenge exhibition is proof that history is not dead and is constantly intervening in the way we live. The Aschers are also a reflection of the complexity of the 20th century, all the changes, and their effects. Although famous and respected in the world, they are neglected and almost forgotten here. Their timeless fabrics have transcended their time. Our students could work with them, give them new life and connect the past with the present and the future", summarises the deeper message of the Ascher Challenge exhibition and its relevance, Jitka Šosová, Vice-Rector of UMPRUM.

The creative processes of innovative work with original materials and original approaches of UMPRUM students, including the story of Zika and Lída Ascher, will be presented by Lenore Jurkyová on Thursday 11 May 2023 at the Czech Centre in Munich. The respected curator also collaborated on the launch of the Ascher Challenge exhibition in Prague. Her lecture will take place as part of Munich creative business week, which is rightly considered the biggest event in the world of design in Germany. Last year alone, it was attended by over 60,000 visitors. This year, after a hiatus of several years, the Czech Centre Munich made contact with the organisers of the Bavarian platform Bayern Design and secured the inclusion of the Ascher Challenge exhibition in the Munich creative business week programme. "The Ascher Challenge exhibition has great potential to appeal to international audiences because it combines a strong story of textile history with the innovative approach of young designers. The field of fashion and textile design is an important part of Munich Design Week, and the exhibition at the Czech Centre Munich is, therefore, an excellent opportunity to highlight young talent in the Czech Republic to a professional international audience," concludes Blanka Návratová, Director of the Czech Centre Munich.


Special thanks to Peter and Robin Ascher, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, and Konstantina Hlaváčková.

The exhibition was organized in cooperation with the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague and the Czech Centre Munich.