Meet Daria Gora, creator of California Chic.
Daria left Poland when she was 24 and pursued her dreams of working in the fashion industry by studying fashion design in Chicago. She then became a designer for some major American brands, and after returning to Poland for a few years, she worked as a designer for Reserved. She is the founder of fashion brand ‘From Warsaw’, has lived in various European countries and is currently based in California. Get to know her and see below for details of how to stay in touch with California Chic.
Daria Gora was photographed by Beata Becla
Five minutes with Daria Gora
I pick my wardrobe carefully, focusing rather on the quality not the quantity. Fashion design experience taught me how to recognise good fabrics and perfect fit. I like clean tailoring, modern minimalist silhouettes accentuated with stronger details: big cuffs on a shirt, bolder accessories. For colours, I pick neutrals: shades of beige, grey, blush pink, brown and of course white and black. When I feel like pop of colour, I choose red or green. I only pick timeless, functional clothing, and would never buy something over the top, just to show it on my Instagram or to stand out at the fashion week.
Who or what has been your biggest style influence?
There isn’t one particular person, that I would consider my biggest influence. I like the aesthetic of some brands like Filippa K, Toteme, Celine, The Row. I admire the personal style of Victoria Beckham, Kate Bosworth and Jennifer Aniston. My Pinterest has a section called Muses, which includes all-time style icons that I admire, such as Lauren Hutton, Charlotte Rampling or Carolyn Bessette Kennedy.
You love not only wearable fashion but also interior design. How have you decorated your own house – and considering that you have moved quite a bit, has that affected how you decorate where you currently live?
When I lived in Belgium, my apartment had a classic modern look, black and white furniture and white walls with purple accents. It used to be more “raw”. Since I have moved to California, I wanted things to be brighter with a vintage flair. My husband and I decided to go for Mid-Century Modern style. My favourite piece is an original 1950s desk and a chair. It is my personal working space.
After graduating with a fashion major, from the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago I worked as a designer for big corporations such as Target, Sears in USA, followed by Reserved brand in Poland. Later I moved to Belgium and started freelancing for smaller companies. For a while, I had my own brand called From Warsaw, which had success among Belgian press and clients, however I decided to close it when we moved to California 2 years ago and start something fresh. I still freelance part time, and run my blog California Chic, which I enjoy immensely. I would love to combine my fashion design experience and blogging by collaborating with a brand by developing a capsule collection for them.
What are your recommendations for a night out in Poland?
When I visit Poland, I usually stay in Warsaw. Our capital is a cool city, with a great art scene and lots of unique attractions. Visiting Warsaw makes you think of a younger version of Berlin before it became popular. When you are there, take a historical tour in a Nysa Van, and visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum to learn about Polish history. If you want to explore the heart of Warsaw’s up-and-coming art scene, go to the Praga district and you visit the Neon Muzeum, which is one of the most unusual museums. Check out the rooftop gardens at the Warsaw University Library, and take a boat trip on the Vistula river.
For Polish designer fashion, jewelry, art, interior furnishing and photo gallery, go to concept store Mysia 3.
For food, art and overall vibe you must go to this unique place called Hala Koszyki, a recently renovated pre-war market that now shines anew with dozens of different restaurants and shops. In the evenings, there’s a DJ playing and it’s a nice place to meet up for either food or drinks, plenty of different types of cuisine to choose from, so everyone is likely to find something they’ll like.
Other interesting places for food that I can recommend are SAM with modern and alternative food and a deli shop, and Polish-Danish fusion restaurant Nabo Café. Great, homemade donuts are made at MOD and at Regina you’ll find modern Polish cuisine.
For a night out, I always prefer a dinner out with my closest friends, which could be in any of those restaurants.
I try to stay updated on what’s happening in Polish fashion. The one designer who I truly admire is Magda Butrym, not so much an upcoming anymore; she already has a few collections under her belt and huge success all over the world. She is bringing hand-made details straight from craftsmen in Poland and she’s doing it in a way that is very current and on trend.
Other brands that I like: an incredibly chic lingerie brand Le Petit Trou, and minimalist women’s wear brands like LeBRAND and The Odder Side.
You’ve lived in various countries, and right now you’re based in a place with many sunny hours. Apart from the weather allowing you to dress differently, what is the biggest difference in the way people dress in California and the way people dress in Poland?
When people hear California, the first thing that comes to mind is Los Angleles, celebrities, Kardashians etc. I live in Northern California, in Silicon Valley. This is a place where all the biggest tech companies are located: Apple, Google, Ebay, Microsoft etc. The tech wizards dress very comfortably usually in jeans and t-shirts, there is not much fashion around. Lots of people here in California, are also into fitness. Many, myself included, choose active wear for their daily errands. It changes once you go to San Francisco, which is 40 min away from where I live. I can see more variety, trends and fashion inspiration there. If I compare current street style in big cosmopolitan American cities like San Francisco, LA, NY to what young people wear in Warsaw, there is not much difference. Because of the influence of social media, trends are accessible to everybody and people, especially the millennials, dress very similarly everywhere.
In your opinion, what is the best-dressed nation and why?
I am trying not to generalize and prolong the stereotypes about certain nations. Not all French or British people are chic and elegant and not all Eastern Europeans look cheap. Western Europeans see many Polish people from small towns and villages, who come to Belgium, Sweden or the UK to search for jobs in construction or cleaning, and these people are not the most fashion forward ones. The thing is, they do not represent the whole nation, just a certain group. This kind of people exist everywhere, Western Europe included. When I lived in Western Europe, I saw lots of great fashion and lots of horrible as well! What I am seeing is, that people in big cities (Warsaw, Paris, New York, Istanbul, Rome) dress rather well and those who live in small towns are less concerned about what is trendy. What differs everywhere is the aesthetic, like the choice of colors and fabrics. Italians choose more colorful clothes as compared to the Swedish and Polish for example. Aesthetics I would not grade as “what is best or what is worst”, it’s a personal choice, and it is determined by the weather conditions. I love watching people wearing lots of color, but personally prefer neutrals and black.
What is the one Polish thing you miss?
My family and some of my closest friends. I miss classy, hip Polish restaurants that offer super tasty fusion food. What is available and considered Polish and Slavic in USA and Western Europe in terms of food, is very limited and has nothing to do with what contemporary Poland has to offer. We are not just serving pierogi and sausage, there is so much more! I miss access to Polish culture. All I see, that is organized in USA, are Polish folk music & dance festivals. I have nothing against folk, but again: this not all what Poland is about! Actually my Polish girlfriends from the Silicon Valley and I are thinking about organizing a Polish film festival here. We should really get into it!
If you have kids, are there any Polish traditions that will be continued in your family?
Definitely I would teach my kids about Polish culture: music, movies (we have so many great movies lately!), Polish design, art and history of course.
What makes you proud to be Polish?
Until very recently, I have been proud and happy about how Poland has evolved since communism. Unfortunately, our current conservative government is ruining everything. In terms of politics, it is not looking good right now.
I am always proud of the achievements in Polish culture, science, technology. I am always proud when I see a real talent coming from Poland, and I try my very best to promote it.
Follow Daria @daria_gora_, leave a comment on California Chic and read up on what makes Daria’s heart beat a little faster – sharp cuts, straight lines and understated Scandinavian minimalism. Check out her favourite collections from New York’s FW18 to see what she might be wearing this fall, or see how she recommends packing wisely to stay stylish on your next trip.