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  • Writer's pictureSODIUM

Fashion Film Forge Boyana and the rise of Bulgarian Designers.

- When Slavic Folklore meets ART.

Film Forge is Nu Boyana film studio’s vocational training centre. The production company is located in Sofia, Bulgaria and it is one of the leading, best technically equipped, highly demanded by the film making industry, movie studios in Europe.

For the beginning of their Academic year, In collaboration with Code Fashion TV, Film forge hosted one of a kind fashion event in their ” Ancient Roman City”. The host provided a platform with prize fund of 30,000 Euros for up to 30 fashion designers to present their unique pieces of art. Beside runaway show, the programme included a concert by the major international hip hop artist- 50 cent with unseen before visual effects.

As this is an extraordinary event for the Bulgarian Fashion Industry, we had the unique chance to interview the winner of the contest – Sandrela Kanaan, the designer of SAMODIVA and get to

know more behind the distinctive look of her designs.

Congratulations on winning the Fashion Film Forge Contest!

Can you tell us more about the award and how you plan on using it?

Thank you very much! Everything was so fast paced that I still can't believe that I have won. The award sounds really promising, and I am grateful for the trust and support by Film Forge regarding my future endeavours. The prize is a bundle of studio service that I plan on separating between different shootings and exciting projects.

What does that award mean to you and your talent?

Recognition from people out of my world and aesthetic vision.

How do you feel about events such as Fashion Film Forge?

Honestly, I am not used to participating in such events, but I admit it was pretty exciting. This is, in fact my second runway. The previous one was 2 years ago and my brand SAMODIVA won 3rd place in that competition...I can say we are upgrading haha. The funny thing is that both times I signed in just in the last minute. I only wanted to see where my brand stands professionally and never thought I would win.

What are the main challenges of being a designer in Bulgaria and what do you believe is the gap in the Fashion Market?

To this question I will answer in reverse so you can understand me well regarding the challenges. To me, the main gap in the Fashion Market is the lack of culture and identity. Bulgaria is a small country, the influence is mostly one-sided, many idols admire the mainstream flow and few would break the rules and walk against it. So here I come challenged to perform, convince and represent as a wearable art, an old-fashioned revival wave in a new, modern, sustainable and slow fashion way. The main challenge is the niche public.

What does Samodiva mean and why did you decide to name your brand this way?

The brand name was born from my thesis project in Milan. I was looking for an inspiration in the unseen and occult, and after months of delving into esoteric researches I came across the Samodivas. They are creatures from the Slavic folklore and mythology, agents of both light and darkness. They can cure and conjure spells, heal and take lives. Their magical powers reside within their woven garments, crafted with enchanted threads and mystic fibres. If the Samodiva is to ever lose those transparent and ethereal light robes, she would instantly lose all her vigour and strength too, turning into a mortal woman.It was so trilling to finally have the perfect archetype to define and represent the essence of my brand.

The Samodiva is a well know symbol of raw natural energy, how does that apply to your label?

As I said, I am deeply inspired by the folklore behind all of it. With my brand I strive to carry both the spiritual and ideological aspects of this archetype. I am using organic materials and I aim for a slower and sustainable fashion.

How do you implement Bulgarian Heritage into your garments?

I can't say that all I implement is necessarily a Bulgarian heritage per se, since the myths about Samodivas and Samovillas are spread all across the Slavic lands. I use a lot of wool, silk and cotton that I work by hand and lately I've been thinking of ways to push the authenticity and cultural identity even further, so stay tuned!

Can you tell us more about the hand craft and process leading to the final result?

It's a fully hand-crafted process when it comes to making a macrame or textiles. The texture is double-faced, made by chiffon or silk and "I’ve" merino wool. The process is filled with many steps, water solutions, rolling, belabour, tempering and layering. It is a long and exhausting task, but the result is worth it. In the end there is always a pitch of random chance- a happy accident or magic, if you wish -that makes every textile unique and unreproducible.

How would you like to expand your brand, and what are your future goals?

As an artist I don't follow a strict plan. I'd be happy to find more recognition on the avant-garde stage among like-minded people. I hope to expand my vision of the experimental and haute couture, not necessarily confined to fashion. Many of the textiles I work with can be expressed in interior design, but that is a language I am still exploring.

Since this is the first time NU Boyana Film Forge hosts such a high bar event, we at Sodium Collective, London are excitingly and patiently waiting for what might follow next and how the studio would out top themselves in future. We want to wish them a successful Academic year and thank them for making us part of this unforgettable event.

As it comes to Samodiva, and the rise of this unique, Bulgarian heritage implementing label we would also like to wish them success and even more recognition within the industry.

To connect with NU BOYANA FILM FORGER :


Instagram :

@ filmforge_nuboyana -

@nuboyana. -

To connect with SAMODIVA :

Instagram :

@samodiva_______ -


Fashion Writer Angela Gaote

Instagram : angela,gaote


Photographer : Simon Varsano

Instagram @simonvarsano


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