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Some designs by Lu Jindrák Skřivánková. Courtesy photo.
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Painter turned fashion designer gets inspiration from unlikely sources...

I almost walk right into her. This is mostly due to my eyes looking up instead of straight ahead, trying to find the correct address she's given me. I let out a sigh of relief when I finally find the building in the unfamiliar neighborhood and when

I look down again, I'm towering over Lu Jindrák Skřivánková, a fashion designer who is a member of Molo7. This group of young designers sells their stuff together through the website

Her bright orange curls catch the sunlight as they lie unruly on top of her head, almost long enough to brush the top of her red-framed glasses. She's dressed smartly in a navy blue sweater that fastens with shiny metal clasps, and her slim-fitting jeans tuck neatly into stylish black boots. Her small hand gives a surprisingly firm handshake.

"I thought we'd sit outside at a café," she said, already starting up the hill. "It's such a beautiful day."

Five minutes later, the 30-year-old red-headed fashion designer and I are seated on a small, sun-warmed bench. She sips her beer daintily and gets a far-off look in her eye as she recalls that her love of fashion began at a young age.

"I was into fashion because my mom designs clothes," Skřivánková said. "She always sewed my and my brother's clothes," she said, adding that looking back at old pictures of herself in those outfits is embarrassing, to say the least.

As she got older, Skřivánková would buy pieces of clothing from H&M and make them her own by cutting them up and changing them in a way to that fit her own style.

However, designing clothes wasn't Skřivánková's first love. She began pursuing that talent only two years ago. Her first passion started 13 years ago: painting.

While studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, Skřivánková found her niche in acrylic painting and her personal style quickly began to shine through. To get this personal style requires a process: she travels around with her camera taking pictures of beautiful architecture all over Europe.

"It's all about cities," she said. Once she's gotten a shot she loves, she takes it home, destroys it, sticks it on her painting, and incorporates it into her masterpiece to create a mixed media effect.

Now Skřivánková's fascination with architecture has spilled over from her paintings to her world of fashion. Coats and sweaters are her favorite articles of clothing to design.

"I decided to do coats because it's also like architecture," she said with a twinkle in her eye. "If you wear this coat which is really big and monumental, you are a small piece of architecture walking through the city."

Another source of Skřivánková's fashion inspiration is people. After finishing her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, she spent a year and a half in Sweden and Finland. While abroad, Skřivánková met a Japanese girl who gave her new ideas about color and how to use it. Skřivánková mostly sticks to blacks, grays, and whites in her designs but she does like to use a pop of color every now and then, like pink and turquoise. For Skřivánková, colors are symbolic.

"People really use colors that can help them," she said, adding that for her, turquoise symbolizes harmony. "It's about soul and inside power."

It's important to Skřivánková that her designs reflect the way people feel on the inside. You could say she cares about the customer. "Normally, I just sell my clothes personally," she said, adding that she likes meeting with the customers because it's more intimate. The personal sales are in addition to the sales via the Molo7 website.

While Skřivánková does appreciate the personal connection she gets from meeting with her customers one-on-one, she also sell her clothes online on MOLO7, a website that sells the clothes of fashion designers with creative and inventive styles, like Skřivánková.

With many creative and inventive fashion designers in Prague, people are starting to wonder if it will be the next city on the fashion radar with places like Milan and Paris. However, Skřivánková thinks that Prague's focus currently lies somewhere other than fashion.

"I think we are a small country and we are better in other stuff," she said. "It will take time, but it's changing. It's better now."

The meal clasps on Skřivánková's sweater begin to glint in the setting sun. She's come a long way from the young girl who bought clothes from department stores just to tear them up and make them her own.

"It's really about my personality," she says of her clothing designs. "It's about having something different."

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