Sunday, January 11, 2009

The New Thrace

My husband, Ludmil, and I ventured out this afternoon to visit our favorite gem of a museum, the National Archaeological Museum, in central Sofia. Their well-curated collection includes an installation of Thracian gold artifacts, many pieces of which have been on tour in the international blockbuster exhibit of the past few years.

It is not easy to describe the polarity between Bulgaria's Thracian glory and today's high-end fashion retail environment. Boutiques like Cartier, Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, and Max Mara now dot the city's chicest corners. It is a display of luxe-style of a whole new extreme.

Today's artifacts may never measure up to the true handwrought craftsmanship and integrated functionality of objects from the ancient world; the latter being both bold and daring in design while also being inherently eye-catching in their use of nature-based motifs and luminous materials. Leafy Thracian crowns are a rival to Cartier, as the crossroads of the past certainly have something to teach us about sustainable design and timeless style.