Aleksandar Joksimović

Aleksandar Joksimović


09 September - 30 October 2015

Graduating from the Shool of Applied Art in Novi Sad, Aleksandar Joksimović moved to Belgrade, intent to dedicate himself to tapestry. At that time, he started to get toghether with a group of artists who belonged to post-war modernism frequently, and in creative spirit. Without entusiasm, though, Joksimović started to work as a clerk responsible for making work clothes at Institute for Household Improvement in 1959. Designing school and work uniforms won him his first prizes. Back then, fashion news arrived to Belgrade rarely, up until the1980’s, kept under control by the state organs that were in charge of development of industry and marketing of products. The profession of fashion designer had not blazed its trail yet, then, although the ready-to-wear clothing factories started to employ professionals who were educated at the Academy of Applied Arts. Among them, standing out, were Mira Čohadžić, Anđelka Slijepčević and Božana Jovanović, who influenced Joksimović’s formation as fashion designer the most. He made his first trip abroad in 1962, when he visited Netherland, Paris, Cote d’Azur, Trieste, then the very center of Yugoslav “shopping tourism”, and attended a month long course in sewing and tailoring in Bruxelless.

In ambiences that put for their “otherness” in relation to the West for political-ideological reasons, such as the socialist Yugoslavia, one of the means for differentiation was fashion that featured folklore national characteristics. The Institute for Household Improvement established National Salon in 1963, whose program was modernization of tradition inspired Aleksandar Joksimović, too, to dedicate himself to research and collect folk art. In 1965, he created a collection for the occasion of opening of National Salon, inspired by the study of tailoring and decorative motifs of zubuns (zubun, a representative piece of clothing of Serbian ethnic dress). It was big surprise for international connoisseurs of Yugoslav fashion, too, who noticed Joksimović’s gift with which he distinguished himself in the surrounding in which “imitation was the rule of fashion design”. Centrotextil (one of the largest Yugoslav import-export companies), in whose Export Department Joksimović worked as of 1964, showed his collections abroad from 1966.

In March 1967, Aleksandar Joksimović showed his first haute couture collection, Simonida. Yugoslav variant of haute couture brought great success and enormuous publicity to its creator. The young of both sexes acquired their fashion guru in Joksimović and became participants in general fashion revolution of the 1960’s, and the State got a person, which, with his talents, knowledge and creative energy could turn fashion into new field of international affirmation.

The works done by Aleksandar Joksimović attracted media and they inspired bringing the newspaper’s presentation of fashion up to date. His work was followed by numerous photo-reporters, such as Tomislav Peternek, Moma Vučićević, Nikola Dević, Srboljub Vranić, Ratomir Radetić, Vladimir Bačlija, Velisav Tomović, Đorđe Nikolić, Milan Simić, Dušan D. Aranđelović, Vlado Duić, Ivan Balić… Working in harmony with currents in contemporary fashion photography, they belong to pioneers and to important representatives of Serbian and Yugoslav fashion photography. Milena Dravić, one of the most popular Yugoslav actresses and, according to Joksimović, “the prototype of modern young Belgrade woman”, often posed wearing his models, during the 1970’s.

The Damned Jerina, Aleksandar Joksimović’s last haute couture collection, premièred in 1969 at the exhibition of Yugoslav industry and art in Paris. It brought Joksimović the recognition of professional public of this capital of the fashion world and attracted international commissions to Yugoslav companies. Just the same, the Damned Jerina collection encouraged Joksimović to experiment with leather, as well as to collaborate closely with Bosnian Leather-Textile Company d.d. Visoko that would soon rise so much to become one of the leading Yugoslav factories. Designed for export, his luxury prêt-à-porter collections (Vela Nigrinova, Emina, Birds, Anna Karenina, Formula I, Ramona, Mosaic, Maria Tanase and Theorem), have brought huge profit to the producers, and affirmation of his own ideas and continuity in work to him, something that was rare in the Yugoslav fashion system.

The first models created by Aleksandar Joksimović could be bought, custom made, at 1965 National Salon. They started, in 1969, to produce in boutique series of one hundred pieces and with popular prices, but never with the label carrying Joksimović’s name. From 1975 on, Joksimović’s work steered towards domestic market, more and more. At that time, Milena Barilli collection was made, the models of which found their way into sales in Centrotextil department store six months after its presentation at International Fashion Fair Fashion in the World. Next collection, Isidora, marked a significant move forward and it was shown at the fair as well as in stores. During that, 1976, the long-waited for Centrotextil boutique, which was popular as Joksimović Space, modeled at famous L’Espace Pierre Cardin in Paris, was opened in the main commercial street.

At a directive by new management of Centrotextil, Aleksandar Joksimović ended the design of luxury prêt-à-porter collections in 1978. Such a decision was a consequence of the political-economic system shaped by the Law on Associated Labor (proclaimed in 1974), which represented a draw back of the Yugoslav economy in its denial of marketing principles and economic logics, and in its denial of individual talent and achievements. From then on, Joksimović worked on seasonal models for numerous factories of differing ready-to-wear assortments. Aleksandar Joksimović dedicated himself to design hand and machine made knits collections during 1980’s. Association Radinost from Kraljevo engaged three thousand women to make hand knitted clothes from Joksimović’s sketches. Presented at international fairs, they found their shoppers especially in Canada and the USA. This encouraged Radinost to establish new brand Janhari in 1986, in collaboration with Belgrade import-export company Yugoslavia Public. It became recognizable by its geometric motives, inspired by ornaments from Pirot kilims and other folklore works, which Joksimović studied and modernized passionately ever since the beginning of his career.

Joksimović stopped working in Centrotextil in 1987, and continued his career as freelance artist. The imposition of international sanctions against Serbia in 1992, marked the end of the success of brand Janhari on the international market, and political-economic situation in the country precluded Joksimović to continue to work at same pace. There followed years that were disgraceous to both creativity and fashion industry, and Joksimović retired in 1995. He was awarded with special prize of The Republic of Serbia for exquisite contribution to national culture in 2007.