Thursday, September 27, 2012

Profiles of Excellence: Malina Opatowiecka owner of "Lady Malina"

In an on-going quest to inform the Modern Medievalist world about the pursuit of excellence, I was recently introduced to Malina Opatowiecka of Poland.

To some of my American or Australian readers, you might not know who she is. Malina as she likes to be called is one of Europes biggest medieval fashion and equipment merchants. She is one of the co-founders of SPES-Medieval Market, and the recently launched "Lady Malina" medieval fashion line. Both of whom are located in Torun, Poland.

Recently she set aside her busy schedule to speak with Modern Medievalist, she was most gracious with her time.

Q:When did you attend your first ever medieval event?
A: It was in 2000. I had met some of my friends in a pub, and they asked me to come to the Grunwald/Tannenburg Battle. I said, "Yes."-It should be noted I had six months to prepare for the event.

Q:Why did you then choose to become a Tailor?
A: I had given a seamstress a bolt of beautiful fabric.She then made the dress the exact opposite of what I needed. So I decided I could do as well, if not better. So I dragged my mother's sewing machine down from the attic, and begun to sew.

Q:So let me try to understand... it didn't look period or what?
A: No. No it didn't. It took a great deal of trial and error, after a lot of hard work, I finally got the dress the way it should look.

Q:What then become the motivating factor for you to continue designing and sewing clothes?
A:The group I was in at the time-(Choragiew Ziemi Gornoslaskiej-translated into English as Silesian Earth Banner.) They the group had asked me to sew some clothes for them. I found out I liked it and one thing led to another.

Q:You went to Grunwald/Tannenberg with ChZG in 2000. What happened next?
A: Well our group joined with a larger group, one that is historically called a "Banner"

Q:What is a "Banner"
A:In order for a smaller group to be able to participate/fight at the battle, you need to belong to a much larger group or collectiong of groups. Usually called a "Banner". In the case it was the Banner of Konrad the VII, the White. It was there that I was noticed, and asked to be an Authenticity Officer.

Q: What is an Authenticity Officer?
A: I was the person for the Banner who approved or disapproved of the costumes. I was the person in charge of making sure everyone was in period clothing.

Q:I bet that didn't make you a very popular person?
A: No. No it did not. But I learned a great deal, and the group at first didn't like it. Soon though, they began to trust me and we collectively began to look period, and authentic.

Q: How long after that did you decied to make Tailoring your career?
A:It was in 2006. I had just graduated with my degree in Sociology. I then began making clothes full time. Then in 2007 with my two partners, Andrzej and Grzegorz Zmuda Trzebiatowski, we opened up SPES-Medieval Market.

Q: After that, what happened?
A: We as a group began to turn our company into one of the premier suppliers of clothing and equipment in Europe. On 01.06.12 I then registered the "Lady Malina" fashion label.

Q: How have you done since then?
A: Fantastic! We have really taken our company far. However no one knew that it was me who made the-"this is perfect or I'll buy from you again clothes." I wanted a way to express my personal designs, by coming up with my own label. My commission que is full until April of next year.

Q: In addition to showing off your desing skills, what do you want to do?
A: I want to become a personal fashion adviser. If a client comes to me, they can tell me what level of society and how authentic they want their clothing to be. I can absolutely help them every step of the way.

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A: From historical, and extant pieces found in private collections and museums. I also look at medieval manuscripts like the Maciejowski Bible, the XIV Century Romance of Alexander, to name just two. However nice it is to look at medieval documents, you have to be careful. Because often what is being written or described and what has been painted are not the same thing. The best sources of design are from museums. My personal love is, to examine preserved historical garments.

Q:How many people are directly working for "Lady Malina?"
A: It is myself, and I have one seamstress who works directly under my direction, but it is my designs, my tailoring, and my creations. If I need to, I can call on other seamstresses to help out.

Q: What are the limitations for "Lady Malina Fashions"?
A:They are only limited to what my client wants. If they want machine stitching, I can do that. If they are living reenactors who want hand stitches, I can do that as well. Regardless of their level of reenactment or fancy dress, I can suit their needs. I will be there to personaly advise them as they need it.

To find Malina Opatowiecka, you can find her personal Facebook page at:

It should be noted, Malina is still an owner of SPES-Medieval Market.
The "Lady Malina" fashion label website is under construction.
To view her other efforts you can find her and her co-founders efforts at:

Their telephone number is: +48 605 309 768

I would very much like to thank Malina Opatowiecka for taking the time to sit through this interview. She very much exemplifies what a Modern Medievalist is all about!

All my best!

DS Baker

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