INTERVIEW / BOGDAN PETROVIC / FREEDOM IS A QUESTION OF ALL QUESTIONS
Interview for Bazar magazine
author / Milan Nikolic
Independent of corporate businessand any kind of institutions, Bogdan Petrović truly lives creative freedom to the fullest extent. For years, a widely-read blogger and unconventional fashion designer, he reveals the principles of his creation and the advantages of a position that, in a professional way, many fantasize about – belonging only to oneself.
His blog is read by those who seek answers to provocative questions. Those who are not satisfied with commonplaces. Those who are not afraid of the truth. It is precisely such individuals who wear the clothing pieces he designs. Bogdan Petrović sends a unique message through both areas of his work. Boldly and uncompromisingly.
1 / With what idea have you been opening your blog for quite some time now?
The idea originated from the desire to create a space where I could freely express myself, present my philosophy, share life lessons and personal opinions, as well as the views of people who inspire me, without anyone interrupting. The blog was born alongside my decision to increasingly choose silence as a form of communication in everyday life. We exist in an era of noise where, if you want your voice to be heard, you are forced to shout (mostly with those less intelligent than yourself), and that definitely isn’t my style. I was raised on the principle that anything wise or beautiful doesn’t need to draw attention to itself, so I have always strived for my actions and deeds to speak for me. I sincerely hope that this is also the case with what my writing.
2 / What does writing mean to you, especially when this need arises spontaneously?
For most people who write, writing is an escape from reality or fears if they have them. For me, on the other hand, writing is both a passion and a job, serving as an excellent means to confront the harsh reality. In both cases, it is a form of therapy, especially when the need for it arises spontaneously.
3 / How much has the blogging scene contributed to opening up Serbia to some important but neglected or intentionally buried topics?
Not to the extent one would expect. The blogging scene lacks activism. We live in a time of self-promotion but also political correctness. This causes most authors, specifically bloggers, to be restrained. When I read today’s blogs, I get the impression that most authors, on one hand, fear the modern reader who can easily fact-check us on the internet and catch a mistake or assess how consistent we are in our beliefs. On the other hand, they think in a copywriter’s way, trying to please their audience. Therefore, on many important topics, which are taboo in a conservative society like ours, silence still prevails.
4 / What is still not talked about enough?
There are many such topics because the range is too broad. Personally, I can tell you what is the situation in the field of sex, since that it is the topic that I mostly write about. Sex is omnipresent in the media but reduced to banality and perversion, based on the conservative and small-minded principle that we would rather peek into others’ yards than solve problems in our own. It sounds paradoxical, but in 2023, people, especially men, still have difficulty talking about sexual frustrations or dysfunctions. Women are more open when it comes to this topic, but many taboos still exist for them, too. However, I think the biggest problem in this sphere is the lack of discussion about sexual education for children because we refuse to accept the fact that children are sexual beings and, as such, explore their sexuality. I’m afraid that due to our turning away from this topic, children will educate themselves about sex exclusively in the virtual world, and that can’t end well.
5 / Do you have communication with your readers?
Of course. Social networks allow us to be in constant contact with our readers, which is actually a double-edged sword. On one hand, this communication provides insight into what interests readers, but on the other hand, it can easily lead us into the aforementioned situation of pandering to them, which is not good. Do you think that great writers from earlier epochs would have been able to create all those epochal works if they had been in constant communication with their readers every day? I’m afraid they would not.
6 / What reactions do you most often hear?
I would be lying if I said they are always positive. On the contrary. Due to the specificity of the topics I deal with, I am often the target of attacks from conservative-traditional currents, especially as I actively fight for the rights of (sexual) minorities and advocate pansexuality as a natural state of mind and the only one in harmony with our libido, which, to be productive, must be completely free. However, there are still many more words of support and praise for my texts. The reactions I focus on and value the most are those that come from people who say that by reading my texts, they have managed to liberate their libido or detect and overcome some sexual dysfunctionality, and so on.
7 / Where does the interest in fashion design come from?
My interests, when it comes to design, are much broader than just fashion, although I worked as a stylist for many years. By profession, I am a graduate art historian, so I am interested in the historical aspects of design, especially in the former Yugoslavia. On the other hand, when it comes to practice and work experience, I have educated myself to be a Visual Designer, which means that I am more involved in visual concepts that include the overall visual identity, and that is what my clients most often ask of me and that is the field on which, without false modesty, I am the best.
8 / Is the power of fashion to “speak,” convey a message, overrated or underrated?
I think that power is underrated, but on the other hand, it is a consequence of the fact that fashion, in the generally accepted sense, has been devalued. It lacks activism, especially in these areas. As Ana del Russo would say: Fashion has just died with pay-to-wear bloggers. Somehow, I increasingly feel that fashion is returning to 2D because people are most concerned that what they wear looks good on photo which they post on social networks, while fashion shows rely on a completely wrong concept—they are created as entertainment, as a party where as many people as possible will gather, and the organizer of the event is going to play a music. However, I still tend to believe that fashion will one day contribute to a better world through the ecological awareness of its own consumers and through what it does best – breaking down gender boundaries.
9 / What do your pieces that you create say?
The pieces I produce under the Doroteo label are not fashion pieces in the true sense of the word. Doroteo Design was created with the idea of materializing the Doroteo philosophy. And Doroteo is freedom. A symbol of that motivating feeling that you can freely do everything you desire, everything that makes you happy, independent, yours, unique. These pieces are intended for people who live simply and unrestrained, who are constantly on the move – modern nomads who know what they want and where they are headed.
10 / Is freedom important in clothing?
Very much so! Freedom is the cornerstone of a meaningful existence, shaping our physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. Freedom is fundamentally the expression of any form of creativity, including dressing.
11 / Why do many people lack it?
Due to a lack of courage. Bound by human obstacles, conservative limitations of the spirit, egoism, and complexes, people are still not entirely free to live and do what they truly want and love. To be free means to live on your own terms, without fears and the need to confess to anyone. Living freely can only be achieved by those who dare to fight for their freedom. That’s why I believe that the secret of freedom lies in courage, as well as a readiness to give up certain things because the complete sense of freedom, in the postmodern world, can only be achieved through significant sacrifice, similar to Robinson Crusoe’s style. Therefore, freedom is unattainable for most people, and some never experience it. Being free fundamentally involves independent decision-making, often on the principle of instant decisions, which is what the common person fears the most. Essentially, if power is truly a motivator and aphrodisiac, and it is one of the stronger ones, then the best libido booster and what keeps our ego productive and non-destructive is owning our own life and accepting ourselves with all our good and bad qualities without any sense of guilt. Only those who are truly free to be themselves conquer freedom and are capable of sharing it with others, enabling everyone to experience it.
12 / Have you always been ready to express yourself entirely freely through everything you do?
The precondition to be free is to accept yourself with all your “diagnoses,” and then, by the same principle, accept everyone else around you. As I mentioned earlier, freedom first implies taking control of your own life, being the tailor of your destiny, and the builder of your own peace. In that sense, I can say that I have expressed myself entirely freely through everything I have done. Moreover, that’s how I live. Although I see Belgrade as my home that I always return to, I can be wherever I want, do only what I want, and be with whom I want. I am a risk-taker and adventurer. I love changes. Established forms are generally uninspiring to me. After all, as Nietzsche said, in life, there are no final solutions; the only constant is change.
13 / How have you pushed your own boundaries?
With pain, suffering, and uncertainty! Life itself brought the first two things, and when life relentlessly beats you, you always come out stronger from such situations if you have already decided to move forward. On the other hand, I often pushed myself out of the comfort zone so radically that many in my surroundings thought I was crazy. However, that’s the gambler’s gene in me. I always wanted to reach as many places and be so many things, not to mention everything. And I was never afraid of wandering because it is a source of new knowledge. I am convinced that life is much better spent wandering than where you don’t want or enjoy being. As one Serbian proverb says: The smart person goes where it’s better, and the fool goes where he’s used to. Essentially, you cannot wake up every morning, do the same things in a set pattern, and expect some change to happen. Just as you cannot progress and expect everyone to love you. I consider myself an intelligent person who has mastered his own mind and surrounded himself with wise, creative, and inspiring people. For years, I haven’t lived to be admired by others, nor will I falter if they say I’m terrible. Life is a struggle, and whether we like it or not, we must have a stance!
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