Photo by IVO BIOČINA

Weekend attire – gold embroidered slippers and flowers

What does a World Cup hero wear to his homecoming after playing the biggest game of them all, the World Cup Final in Moscow? Domagoj Vida’s decision to visit his native Donji Miholjac by horse drawn carriage sporting the distinctive local folk dress of white shirt, black waistcoats and round black hat with a ribbon of Croatia’s red, white and blue was surely the most traditional of the spectacular welcome parties for the heroes from Russia.

It was quite a party, and an insight into one of the most traditional parts of Croatia, where each Slavonian village has its own proud traditions and attire, which come out at every occasion when there is a celebration to be had. Known as one of the most hospitable places in Europe, Slavonian traditional dress has a style and diversity to match.

Among the most famous is the dress of Bizovac, whose distinctive reds and yellows add a dash of colour to one of Croatia’s more complex outfits. Several layers of cotton skirts are worn very short, just over the knee, allowing one to admire the ‘bobane’ woolen stockings and gold-embroidered slippers, while the headgear is an indication of the lady’s status in society. Floral wreaths made of artificial lilies and rose buds are the main decorations.

For a bright floral sartorial display, don’t miss the Spring Procession of the Queens of Gorjani near Đakovo, inscribed as intangible UNESCO heritage back in 2009. Known as Ljelje, the Queens are local girls who perform special songs and dances with sabres. The ‘Kings’ wear sabres and male hats beautifully decorated with flowers, while the ‘Queens’ wear white garlands on their heads like brides. The tradition dates back to the times of Ottoman occupation when the Turks had taken all the men away, and the women dressed up to distract them and were mistaken for ghosts, allowing the men time to escape.

There is a lot more central European influence in the traditional dress of Međimurje and Zagorje, where white garments form a common base, which was usually covered with decorative scarves, shawls, aprons ad jewelry, with red a dominant colour. Elaborate stitching and embroidery with gold thread was also a common theme, and great important in the male costumes were paid to the hats, which were either the traditional black and dome-shaped Pannonian hat or a black felt box-hat, adorned by a ribbon with the Croatian tricolor.

The traditional dress of Lika is quite simple, perhaps most famous for the male Lika red cap with thick black rim. White shirt, red waistcoat and black trousers complete the male outfit, while the women’s colourfully decorated red apron offsets the simplicity of the plain white headscarf.

One of the most traditional types of clothing is Croatia’s stylish addition to the world, the cravat. This essential male accessory has its origins in the 17th century, as the wives of Croatian mercenaries in the French army would tie pieces of cloth around their loved ones’ necks so that they could be distinguished in battles. King Louis  XIII was impressed by what he saw, and men’s fashion has never looked back.

Continental Croatian folk costumes come with a variety of jewelry and decoration, including gold embroidery, flowers and old coins. Often simplistic in their design, the jewelry reflects what was available at the time to poor ordinary folk. One of the most important additions was the fine lace of Lepoglava, whose intricate designs were the main activity of the town’s female population and which – along with the islands of Hvar and Pag – are part of the lace-making traditions of Croatia inscribed as intangible UNESCO heritage.