Spending close to 30 minutes in my bra and knickers in front of a three-panelled, rather unforgiving mirror, as a gorgeous, waif-like woman with a score of measuring tapes around her neck and a pincushion taped to her wrist flits around me, taking my particulars is not quite my idea of fun. I can think of a million things I’d rather do than listen to the litany of measurements that resulted – like putting my collection of egg cartons in their sell-by date order, or scrubbing the grout on my kitchen floor with a toothbrush. As I stood there wondering what the antonym for rubenesque might be (the closest I could come to was ‘svelte’), I went through a series of emotions that were expertly managed by Orsolya Kovács, the brain behind YURKOV Fashion Lounge, Hercegprímás Utca 19, in Budapest’s Vth district.
Three years in the making, YURKOV finally opened its doors on 1 January 2012 to offer a heady combination of fashion design, styling, and life coaching. A talented designer, Orsolya was stopped in the street one day by some tourists who asked where she’d bought the dress she was wearing. That spontaneous, public recognition of her talent made her sit up and listen. After 15 years in the IT business, on a good salary, with a nice car, and a comfortable life, she decided to make a change. Why? Because it felt right. There are few characteristics I respect more in a person than their having complete trust in their intuition. Ms Kovács has this, in spades. The signs were there. And she followed them. She sold it all and opened YURKOV. She’s a woman on a self-confessed mission to show us all how beautiful we really are; how beautiful we can be.
And don’t go thinking this is strictly a woman thing! Many of her clients are men. The first session is the same for both men and women: a two-hour consultation where she picks the right colour tones and figures out what shape you are. A series of innocuous questions over coffee and chocolates (nice!) about the colour content of my wardrobe progressed to a lively explanation of colour tones, chakras, and body shapes. I’ve never seen myself as a banana, or an apple, or a pear but in due course, all was revealed. (And at last I know why I am drawn to the colour orange!) As I trotted out the litany of what I least liked about my body and how it affected what I wore, Orsolya said little, yet what little she did say encouraged me to say more. I actually thought about why I don’t wear make-up – I much prefer the constancy and truth of unadorned skin and only resort to ‘putting on my face’ when I’m heading into a social situation where I feel the need to erect a barrier between me and the world. Thankfully, this usually only happens once a year or so. Anyway, pretty soon it became clear that when it came to tailoring and fashion, I’ve had more misses than hits and when it came to knowing the make-up of my body, I was clueless.
For the first trip to the mirror, I was draped in flesh-coloured wrap as Orsolya patiently placed swatch after swatch of colour next to my face, explaining that while 40% of choosing the right tones is about physical appearance, the remaining 60% is about personality. It was nothing short of amazing to see how some colours aged me and others simply looked cheap. Some made my eyes shine, others washed me out completely. In colour terms, I’m summer: cold, tired colours suit me best. As I mentally threw out nearly half my wardrobe, I wondered what would be left once we’d figured out what fruit I was.
Down to the bra and knickers now, I stood straight in front of that damn mirror. Any misgivings I voiced about what I saw in front of me were countered by Orsolya pointing out on the dimples in my shoulders (first time I noticed them) or the taper at my wrist (likewise) or the slight narrowing at the top of my calves. Mind you, we both agreed that my knees ain’t my best feature (how could it be that I was only just noticing this when I’ve been looking at them years!) but I was at least comforted by her assurances that tailoring would work wonders and impressed by her straightforwardness and sensitivity. Working on the premise that if I’ve never heard your no, I’ll never believe your yes, I knew that Ms Kovács is a woman to be trusted.
And then came the surprises: my legs are actually longer than my upper body; my shoulders are narrower than my hips; and my neck isn’t quite as long as I thought it was. Measuring tapes just don’t lie. Had I not already been convinced that Ms Kovács knew what she was talking about, this was the clincher. We tried necklines, hemlines, and sleeve lengths. We tried belts of various widths in various positions. We tried jewelry for size and length and colour. And with each change came the dawning realisation that for the last 30 years or so, I’ve been my own worst enemy. And that with the right attention to detail, a new me could emerge.
I’d never taken a dispassionate view of my body before. I’d never looked at it objectively, in that calculated way that centimeters have of turning it into a mathematical equation. It’s about proportion. What you have more of, tailoring needs to reduce; what you have less of, tailoring needs to add – the ultimate goal being the illusion of an hourglass and to hell with the fruit.
The next step for men is a home visit to the clear out the closest. And don’t be fooled: underneath that petite, delicate exterior lies a heart that can be ruthless. No mercy shown. And then, it’s to the shops to restock what is bound to be a fairly depleted wardrobe.
Women, on the other hand, are better at following instructions (my words!) and so while the option is there, most come to YURKOV with the intention of commissioning a dress, designed for their shape, in the colour that wows the most. Orsolya is not into collections; all her pieces are custom designed with one person in mind.
YURKOV is also home to fashion workshops at weekends, designed for groups of no more than 10 people. The day-long session includes lessons with a make-up artist, a hairstylist, and a fashion stylist with a photographer on hand to evidence the results.
At face value, it might seem a little pricey. The two-hour consultation runs to 40 000 ft (gift certificates available), the one-day workshop will cost you
25 000 ft. Yet consider it an investment. You don’t need to be a genius to figure out the amount of money you waste on buying clothes that do nothing for you. I know I could probably have saved enough over the last 30 years to buy a cottage by the sea with room for a goat or two.
I can honestly say, hand on my heart, and despite the 30-minute forced frontal viewing of my near-naked body, the experience and the lessons learned are priceless. I have a whole new regard for my body and now that I know what I have to work with, I’m looking forward to making the most of it. (And yes, if you look out your window, you might just see a pig fly by!) I’m going the whole hog, too, and treating myself to a YURKOV dress, especially made for me, for my birthday. Why? Because I’m worth it!