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A Life of Change

The dramatic changes of the early nineties were like a blow on the head for many people. More than a decade afterwards, we look back and analyze the results of a tremendous social upheaval. How have families recuperated? Have individuals been able to use their former achievements for their benefit?

Some have not been able to turn the page and start from scratch. Yet the number of people that have succeeded in the struggle to move on is definitely encouraging. The most daring of them have not only adjusted to change but have gone much further, to make change a part of their everyday lives.

Fashion, one of the most unpredictable business spheres, has become the life interest of leading Moldova designer Valentina Vidrascu. Mother of two sons, one of whom is finishing school while the other is pursuing an attorney degree at a university in the Netherlands, Valentina has not escaped the social and economic changes of Moldovan society as a whole. Several years ago her husband passed away after a battle with cancer. This devastating tragedy could have broken the strongest of people, so what would it do to a fragile and delicate woman like Valentina? Yet she withstood the difficulties that her loss involved: a sudden lack of moral and financial support, the necessity to deal with many problems at once, an abrupt turn to what had been a fairly peaceful life, and an increased sense of insecurity caused by an obscure future.

Born in a Moldovan village near Dubasari, Valentina was brought up in the best of Moldovan cultural traditions. Her mother had a strong sense of ethics and possessed very high moral values. Good nutrition and cleanliness in combination with a supportive atmosphere at home created the positive outlook on life that Valentina can pass on to dozens of people every day.

A closely knit village community and surrounding natural beauty of the Moldovan countryside contributed to bringing out some of the best qualities in the young girl. She learnt to sew from her mother and neighbor. During that period in life Valentina acquired the acute feeling for color, fabric, and style, which helped her achieve success later on.

In school she always differed from the rest of the girls in her choice of clothes. For one special occasion Valentina decided to design a dress herself. It turned out better and more original than some of the dresses procured for the girls in her class by their parents. These were the first impressions of a perfectly formed young girl, who was ready to start out on her own in life, tackling all the hardships that being a grown-up involved.

In Chisinau Valentina attended the State University, Philology Department. She had a strong desire to get to grips with Moldovan culture, and it was vital for her to master the authentic Romanian language and not the kind that was spoken in Moldova during the Soviet regime. Later on she had the opportunity to work as an interpreter tourist guide for Romanian travelers. The chance to live and work in Romania for a while enabled Valentina to perfect her language skills.

Discovering more about her people and her native tongue was very important to the initial ideas that Valentina has been able to realize as a designer over the last five years. Applying for a grant with an international organization, Valentina received the financial means to travel to London and Paris to study fashion and modeling in more depth than she could have done in Moldova or Romania.

According to her this was a great professional experiences, in that it provided her with necessary expertise and management concepts. It was a unique opportunity to learn from famous designers in order to bring some of their traditions onto the virgin soil of the Moldovan fashion world and start a distinctive culture in this country.

As a mother and a good Moldovan wife, Valentina did not work. Her husband was against her taking up an occupation and pursuing a particular interest in life. So while his decease brought much heartache to the family, it was also a forced liberation. Obliged to find the means of supporting herself and her two sons, Valentina began again.

In a very short time she acquired full independence, and found out how to combine work and family life. She spent long hours grappling with a myriad of questions related to running her new business, a modeling agency, with very limited funds. This is the kind of thing that can turn people into working machines with their strength and inner warmth sucked from them. Valentinaís, however, was a totally different case.

Dealing with people day after day, including insecure young girls who came to her for confidence, Valentina could not assume a snobbish, letís-get-down-to-business like demeanor. She took on the difficult mission of inspiring people, living by the rule that beauty is the art of being what one really is. Businesses in Moldova are hard to start off and although the modeling agency is not thriving yet, Valentina is happy with the results.

This story goes to show that even without special skills and knowledge it is possible to make a good idea work for the benefit of the people who initiate it and bring it to life. It takes a lot but only if one is not ready to move on and to readjust many, many times. Valentina can provide her associates and workers with the necessary thought and the required amount of inspiration. Her vision is the driving force of reviving fashion in Moldova, bringing it line with international standards and creating a unique attraction.

Her efforts go beyond making a good living. Valentina wants to remain involved in the social processes and extend her support to hundreds of young Moldovan women. Surprisingly she speaks very little of the problems encountered in our society today. It was strange and exciting at the same time to hear a person with so many ideas on how to resolve these problems instead. Simple solutions put into very simple and straightforward words that could lead to the prosperity of a beautiful country with so many beautiful women.

Valentina Vidrascu has incorporated change into her life. She is part of the fashion world, a world that undergoes constant and persistent change. In many ways it is only a reflection of the dynamics of other aspects of our lives today Ė yet to understand that, and to admit that failure is not due to processes out of our control, is the biggest problem Moldovans face today.

She promotes national traditions on an international level, taking them with the help of her collections across the borders of the country. But clothes are nothing without people. With their striking southern beauty, Moldovan models help focus attention on certain elements of our national culture.

Valentina is one of the people who have changed to understand and accept the changes that have taken place in the country. Her moral principles remain unaltered, however, and whatever there is wrong within our society, she makes her effort to eradicate or improve. Time is the best judge of things, and only time can show us how fashion will evolve in Moldova. Yet a positive attitude, an offered opportunity, and a word of encouragement help make people better and kinder, isnít this what forms the greatest achievement?

By Natalia Corobco

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