The Difference Between the Amateur and the Professional: Interview with Márta Makány

Do you ever have one of those days when you feel like you’re running out of your mental fuel? When time just seems to pass by without anything seriously grabbing your attention? On a similarly uninteresting morning of mine, I walked up to the first floor of a building in Báthory utca and was welcomed by the kind handshake of Márta Makány, one of the most successful designers of the Hungarian fashion scene. It soon turned out to be one of the most memorable encounters of my career, so far.

Márta Makány strives for excellence: her brand stands for quality, designed to perfection to the smallest details. I found her sitting at her desk, drawing when I arrived for our interview. All the while, I counted at least 3 marvellous soon to be dresses, emerging at the tip of her pencil. I felt like I sat down with an empty bag that was filled with many encouraging thoughts that managed to turn a completely mediocre day into an extraordinary one.

During my research, I read that the first wedding dress you designed was kind of out of the blue.

Yes, the very first piece was requested by a very nice customer of mine. I didn’t advertise it or anything.

What’s the main difference between designing a wedding dress and an evening gown?

Well, have you had your wedding, yet? – I shook my head – Then you’re yet to experience that planning that special date puts everyone into a completely different state of mind, a very fragile one, in fact. Everyone, including those who might not put so much emphasis on their outlook on a daily basis, wants to look their best. You want to be gorgeous, perfect even. And so it’s a very special and emotional mode of being.

What do you think makes a wedding dress unique?

For me, it is always about the person who wears it. The most important thing from my end, is knowing that she feels absolutely comfortable in it and it makes her happy. For the bride, it’s probably about stepping out of their everyday appearance and becoming something kind of extraordinary.

In my head, I immediately scanned through the ideas of what sort of a wedding dress I would want, realizing that I don’t really know that much about my own needs and expectations when it comes to the topic.

Some women have been dreaming about that day since they were little girls, while others don’t care about it so much and come up with some plans right after the proposal. But I met people who didn’t know what kind of dress they wanted a week before they were getting married. So, just like in every other area of life, there are many scenarios.

How much the trends have changed in the past couple of years?

There are different designers and situations, but I think white and ecru colours still dominate the industry. You know, everyone would like to get married only once – preferably – so most of the brides end up deciding to have a traditional colour dress instead of a more extravagant one. But of course, fashion is changing: earlier, the more princess like, frothy wedding dresses were the most stylish ones, but lately there are many light, modern pieces.

Where can you find inspiration?

Oh, I wish you would ask the same question from a baker, or a hairdresser! My answer is always the same thing: you find something you love doing and practice it for many years until the point when it sinks into routine. It doesn’t mean you lose interest in it, it’s just that you develop certain qualities that guide you. For example, now I know what sort of dress someone would want just by looking at them. I can only guess, of course, but mostly it turns out that I was right in the first place.

So you could tell me what sort of wedding dress I would like to have? – I looked at her with curious eyes.

Yes, I think you would definitely go for something more modern. You wouldn’t want a too decorative dress, rather one that is simple and graceful. – If you’d be wondering, yes, she saw right through me.

Which part of the designing process you like the most?

To me, all of it is great fun! – She said laughing. – From the start to the final touches, I enjoy every single bit of it. And the fact that I can accompany these women on the way to a truly significant day of their lives, and relive the excitement, the thrill, it gives me great pleasure.

You designed so many things beside bridal wear. Is it important for you to create dresses that can be wear comfortably, in a daily manner?

I consider myself to be someone who likes feeling comfy, therefore I like designing dresses that are also convenient to wear. I think every piece has to match the occasion it was made for.

What are you the most proud of?

The fact that I have been able to do this, to make a living by something I admire.

How do you motivate yourself?

I don’t wait around till some divine spark falls into my lap. I don’t have any sense of fear, I’m kind of reckless in a way, I push forward and don’t really need to motivate myself to do this, because my habit goes there naturally. I wake up every day with numerous ideas in my head and I just sit down and work with them. But it’s the same thing in every craft, let it be painting or writing a novel. Creativity doesn’t work itself out, you actually have to act on your ideas. And it’s a kind of addiction, because I don’t feel like “working” in a way of looking forward the end of the day when I can leave the office and go home. No, for me it’s something I truly enjoy. I believe that I either do something, or I don’t. But there’s no in-between. One of my teachers used to say: What is the difference between the amateur and the professional? The amateur needs inspiration, the professional needs deadlines.