Jadwiga grabowska: Poland’s Coco Chanel
Jadwiga Grabowska (1898-1988) was at the helm of this legendary brand. She came from a wealthy Jewish family of the surname Seydenbeutel, but after World War II, she was left penniless. Her innate sense of aesthetics and love of fashion led her to Paris in 1924, where she completed a course in design.
Upon her return to Poland, her goal was to help Polish women regain their pre-war elegance. She set up a small boutique called Feniks (Phoenix), a symbol of Warsaw’s rise from the ashes after the war, which grew into a bustling tailor shop. When it was taken over by the authorities under the communist regime, Grabowska was named Director of Fashion Shows, which was then combined with the Gallux-Hurt manufacturing company to create Moda Polska.
At Moda Polska, Grabowska was not only the head designer, but she also recruited and trained its staff and its models, managing the entire team and organizing fashion shows that brought a stylish air to women across Poland. In 1968, she left the company after being forced to retire. Her team included other talented designers including Halszka (Halina) Zdziarska, who was her assistant and secretary. Others who followed in her footsteps included Krystyna Aniołkowska, Tula Popławska, Jerzy Antkowiak, Katarzyna Aniśkowicz, Irena Biegańska, Małgorzata Blikle, Krystyna Dziakowa, Grażyna Hase, Magdalena Ignar, Kalina Paroll, and Małgorzata Zembrzuska.
A team of expert tailors, headed by Stanisław Kudaj, was in charge of production. The accessories that were part of the line were all sourced from local craftsmen from Warsaw. Shoes were crafted by an expert shoemaker from Nowy Świat Street, buttons and bags were made by Ewa Zielińska, gloves at a shop on Marszałkowska Street, and hats were made by Krystyna Szpilowa.