Timeless Style: admire alluring attire by Katalin Schäfer

Photo : SCH-Fashion
Go Active Budapest

From flowing belly-dance dresses to elegant vintage evening wear to sexy cabaret costumes, Hungarian designer Katalin Schäfer creates a colorful variety of time-transcending clothing all shaped by her vivid fantasy world. Celebrating the spirit of summertime with a new line of swimwear that would fit right into a 1960s beach-party movie, this Friday she hosts a fun-filled fashion show that is open to the public aboard Budapest’s most popular pleasure boat.

Since early childhood, Katalin Schäfer was always fascinated by the graceful style of dancing actresses in old Hollywood movies, inspiring her to learn movement artistry in a variety of genres while growing up. Coming from a family of clothing producers, Katalin could make her own garments from a very young age – and so the stage was set for the absolutely iconoclastic career that she pursues with playful panache as an internationally performing dancer who designs unique apparel based only on her own stylistic obsessions.
Katalin began belly-dancing at 18 years old, and was immediately recognized for her natural talent at it; there’s no doubt that her voluptuous figure is perfectly suited to this form of Middle Eastern motion, even if it’s rare to see a blue-eyed redhead whirling in this ancient way. However, she soon became dissatisfied with the costumes traditionally worn in belly-dance shows – the most expensive customary dresses could be beautiful, but Katalin found most modestly priced outfits were simply tacky.
“When you go out on stage in the belly-dance costume, you get this feeling that you are a princess or a cheap dancer,” she explains. “Who wants to be a cheap dancer?”
To feel more like a princess while performing, Katalin began designing and creating her own belly-dance clothing, but she allowed her enchantment with classic-film glamour to influence and improve this ordinarily unchanging clothing style – using skin-colored fabric sewed together with the skirt, she developed a way to lighten the entire outfit and liberate hip movement, all while embellishing the overall look of the ensemble with simple cuts and adornments like Swarovski crystals and pure silks. Soon Katalin was earning as much admiration for her dresses as for her performances, and she was hired to create costumes for fellow belly dancers. Although she continues dancing internationally to this day, by this point Katalin’s calling as a fashion designer became loud and clear.
In 2010 Katalin established her exclusive SCH-Fashion label, and in addition to customized dance attire, she started making cute vintage-style cocktail dresses that would look perfect on Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe. Soon afterwards, these graceful garments were offered alongside risqué cabaret-show outfits of the style worn by burlesque dancers almost a century ago; more recently she began making bikinis and swimsuits laden with frills and bows reminiscent of Esther Williams “aquamusical” films from the ’40s and ’50s, or “Frankie and Annette” surf films from the early ’60s.
However, there is an important distinction between the retro gear that Katalin produces and models, and old-time outfits from the silver screen – instead of the stiff and scratchy materials that these garments were made of when the style was new, she uses modern elastic fabrics that are considerably more comfortable than the originals they are based upon.
“Women back then were suffering for their beauty,” she says. “I want them to enjoy their beauty.”
Anyone in Budapest can enjoy the beauty of Katalin’s unique vintage swimsuit collection during her “Candy Shop” fashion show happening on Friday, August 1 on the rooftop terrace of A38 Ship, beginning at 7pm – in addition to models strutting in her timeless two-pieces, Katalin promises a complete spectacle with surprises like acrobatics, balloons, wild wigs, and much more.
Each of her styles can be ordered at specified sizes through her website, and in the near future, Katalin plans to create an even more imaginative line of attire based on the fantastic realm of pixies – yet another example of the attractive visions that she continually transforms into reality.