Jadwiga Grabowska was a Polish Coco Chanel – the famous “Lady in a turban”, an extremely talented visionary and fashion creator, as well as a polyglot fluent in five foreign languages. In the gloomy times of real socialism, her collections stood out with colour and elegance.

She was born in 1898 in Warsaw to a wealthy Jewish family of Seydenbeutel, construction entrepreneurs. She studied journalism and was also a translator. In the interwar period, she visited Paris, where she attended design courses, and established contacts that turned out to be helpful in her future work as a fashion designer. There she also met the fashion revolutionary Coco Chanel. Conversations with her changed Jadwiga’s mindset and shaped her imagination for life. Paris itself – the capital of fashion – which she loved, was a source for inspiration for her. She visited it regularly practically every season throughout her life.

Already before the outbreak of the war, she owned a fashion house in Warsaw, but her greatest successes came after World War II. She was lucky to survive the Holocaust. In post-war Warsaw, she opened a modest boutique, which dynamic development was interrupted by the communist authorities. Jadwiga Grabowska, however, managed to outsmart the system and got employed in the Women’s Fashion, the predecessor of the famous Cepelia, where she became the artistic director.

I speak five languages thanks to my mother, who was always very elegant, and from childhood she instilled in me and my sister the aesthetics of clothes. After the war, Warsaw was badly destroyed, and women were neglected. Someone needed to think of them. That’s why I chose to work as a fashion designer.

Thanks to her ingenuity, stubbornness and hard work, she became a real fashion creator. She designed collections for the international fairs in Leipzig, which made it easier for her to achieve great success: the opening of the first fashion house in post-war Poland – Moda Polska (Polish Fashion). Jadwiga also became the artistic director of the company. She managed to smuggle into Poland the latest fashion trends from Europe: from Paris and London. Her fashion shows in Warsaw, in the Palace of Culture and Science and the Primate’s Palace, were always unique and attracted the cream of society of those times. She was responsible for creating collections between 1958 and 1968, when she was made to retire. Her departure was a clear turning point from which Moda Polska began to decline. Jadwiga Grabowska died in 1988 in Warsaw.