Ever since the establishment of the LADO Ensemble in 1949, much attention has been given to traditional costumes. Over the years, the pool has grown into a respectable collection of original pieces and masterful reconstructions with more than 1,000 sets of traditional costumes.
LADO’s concerts are so awe-inspiring in part due to most elaborate ceremonial traditional costumes that have traveled from Croatian cities and villages to their new home - LADO's vault.
Considering Croatia's long and colourful history as well as its geographic location on the crossroads of large cultural areas, traditional costumes in different parts of Croatia show Mediterranean, Pannonian, Dinaridic, Central European and Turkish-Oriental influences. The final forms of traditional day-to-day attires show the influence of civic fashion on the style of Croatian countryfolk.
The traditional attire carries an important role even to this day, as a symbol of national, native and local identity, along with its practical use on the stage.
These beautiful and valuable pieces can be found in LADO's collection. Rather than lying in a chest or a closet, these attires serve a special purpose in LADO - alongside song, dance and music, they are an equally valuable part of each performance, accompanying the stunning diversity of music and dance styles present in an area as small as Croatia.
Creating the costumes
The lengthy and arduous process of making these attires used to be performed exclusively by women and it started in the fields with the cultivation of fibre crops. Mostly flax and hemp were used to make thread which would later be woven into cloth and made into wearable pieces. This process took a lot of knowledge and time.
However the magic did not end there. In the final and most impressive stage of production - the decoration - the creativity of the makers shines through each detail. There are numerous techniques of weaving and decoration associated with each part of Croatia.
LADO's collection largely comprises ceremonial pieces richly decorated with embroidery, lace, beads, pieces of mirrors, ribbons and other ornaments, different patterns, colors, fabrics and materials that are carefully maintained and preserved. This is the responsibility of the collection curator, workshop head and wardrobe supervisor.
Artists treat the pieces with special care and carefully fold them into custom-made boxes after each concert.