Arkadius was discovered by Isabella Blow. His most celebrated collections have served as political manifestos promoting pacifism.
“Arkadius left Poland seven years ago, he said, with nothing but a rucksack. In London, he met someone who became his benefactor, paying for his tuition at Central St. Martin’s. Isabella Blow, the stylist, discovered him and made the introduction to Ebel, which, he said, has agreed to finance him for three years.”
– Cathy Horyn, The New York Times
Fashion designer Arkadiusz Weremczuk, better known simply as ‘Arkadius’, was born in southeast Poland and graduated from Central St. Martin’s college in 1999, making his press debut two years later when his work featured in The Face, in a session directed by Isabella Blow. In 2000, Arkadius was awarded the New Generation Award by the British Fashion Council and, the next year was named by The Independent as one of the Ten Leading Fashion Designers in the uk, alongside Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, and Stella McCartney. In 2002, he received the nesta Fellowship award. Arkadius has been worn by a number of famous names, including Björk, Mary J. Blige, Pink and Adrien Brody. He has also created costumes for the Los Angeles Opera and the Polish National Opera.
ARKADIUS • 'Semen of the Gods', Graduation Collection, London, June 1999
Arkadius’ most celebrated collections have served as political manifestos promoting pacifism. The designer has drawn a great deal of inspiration from Catholic art and Polish folk culture. His Virgin Mary Wears the Trousers collection (s/s 2014) featured newborn babies as its central motif. The designer explained:
“The baby print in the collection signifies the word virginal: innocent, new, young. This is how we are born: completely pure. People are alike, the only major difference being their religion. The environment we grow up in, the society we find ourselves surrounded by, and the religion we belong to moulds us in a certain way. It is a shame that religion is often misinterpreted, alienating people and creating wars and conflicts. Religion to me means freedom and love.”
The richly-adorned gold dresses of the Holy Mother, the chalice containing the Host, the ears of grain and the images of Mary featured in the collection are all references to the baroque altars which are typically found in Catholic churches in rural Lubelszczyzna, where Arkadius was born.
ARKADIUS • SS 2002 / London Fashion Week / photo Suresh Karadia
The designer’s United States of Mind collection (s/s 2004) was an objection to the military intervention by the US and her allies in Iraq in 2003. The collection featured a striking white dress in the form of a bloodied dove, and prints comprising a collage of the US flag, the Star of David, the dollar sign and prisoner restraint belts. The show was described in Vogue: “A choir sang Glory, Glory, Halleluiah amid the ricochet of machine gun fire as glittering badges of the face of President Bush and the Statue of Liberty featured on jeans and tank tops plastered with shredded strips of turban. Later, it was the face of Arkadius himself, who took his bow wrapped up in traditional Arab attire, festooned with laurels like Julius Caesar.”
ARKADIUS • SS 2004 / London Fashion Week / photo Steve Wood
Weremczuk’s last collection for the Arkadius label, Le Cock, appeared in a/w 2005. A decade later, in 2015, returned with Arkadiusz Weremczuk a new label, P-iFashion, which stands for ‘Politically Incorrect Fashion’. The principal motif of the first collection was a series of obituary notices alluding to the designer’s temporary absence from the fashion scene.