NIKOLA EFTIMOV: There is no greater punishment to go through life as an actor unless it is one’s profession

Nikola Eftimov is a fashion designer and lecturer. He graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Skopje (Graphic Art and Fashion Design, 1993) and completed the master studies at Accademia Italiana in Florence, Italy (Fashion as Art, “The Eccentric male costume in the last three centuries”, 1998). His teaching career spans over decades and includes engagements at Macedonian universities, higher vocational schools, informal education institutions, but also abroad (Chanapatana International Design Institute in Bangkok, Accademia Italiana Thailand, etc). Currently, he holds the position of professor at the International Fashion Institute Izet Curi and mentors at the Academy of Fashion Design, Djolev, and the Arts in Skopje.

With his French Bulldog Aaron, 2014
(photo by courtesy of Fashionel)

Nikola Eftimov giving support to the Fashion Revolution Macedonia, the Earth Day 2021

Plamen, the rescued stray dog

What does the concept of Lifestyle mean to you?

The concept of an individual lifestyle, for me, means a way of living, based on a personal world view, sets of values, attitudes, etc. In a way, it reflects my identity, built through the interaction with my social surrounding(s), but also based on my choices, interests, preferences, gifts, faults, etc. The lifestyle evolves the way we evolve throughout our lives, but can also change depending on the phases or situations we are going through.

With Snezhana Janachkoska Bogdanovska, at the promotion of her book My Stories – My Life, 2016 (photo by courtesy of FWSK)

Do you aspire to involve your life passions into your daily routine?

I do, otherwise, the whole concept of lifestyle would be just wishful thinking or an empty program. Sometimes the words can be deceitful or not capable to describe precisely the true substance, but I think that I can say of myself that I am a passionate person. Hence, all the components of my lifestyle are the things, ideas, actions, etc. that I am passionate about.

Since my childhood, I have a very special relationship with plants. I am surrounded by them, and part of my daily routine is taking care of their needs or just enjoying their company.

A birthday surprise by the Thai students, Bangkok 2005

The same goes for the animals, cats, and dogs especially, but not only. I was growing up both in Skopje and in Zagreb, my Croatian grandmother always had many cats in her houses. Later, my very first dog, the French Bulldog Aaron, made me even more aware of the other, less fortunate dogs. I started to feed the stray dogs and other animals regularly, participate in programs that might improve their lives, even in protests against animal cruelty. I ended up adopting Plamen, a senior stray dog, from a high kill shelter. My daily walks with him give me the possibility to distract myself temporarily, to interact with people and other animals, even to meditate.

Food is another big passion of mine. Being a vegan forced me to be engaged in cooking almost daily. Both the cooking itself and enjoying the food afterward could be considered proper rituals. To share my experience, I have created a FB blog in the Macedonian language, dedicated to vegan food.

With Lidija Georgieva as representatives of R. Macedonia at The 3rd Central and Eastern European Countries and China Cultural and Creative Industries Forum, Łódź 2018
(photo by courtesy of Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland)

My personal and professional formation is closely linked to art, in all of its manifestations. There is no single day without reeding something related to visual art, costume, and fashion design, or just enjoying some piece of literature; listening to a good interpretation of early music composition with some of my favorite soloists and orchestras; enjoying online lectures on history, culture, art, religion, etc. When I am occupied with manual creative work I like to listen to an audiobook.

A great part of my work as a designer is dedicated to the research and practice of sustainable fashion, so I tend to live a more conscious lifestyle, whenever it is possible.

Nikola Eftimov, autumn/winter 2014-15

Nikola Eftimov, spring/summer 2011

The vining design of the Coca Cola Light fashion design competition
(The Silver Temptation), 2005

In my youth, I could have been described as a social butterfly. Whether at home or abroad, my daily schedule was quite hectic, attending different types of parties, the openings of exhibitions, concerts, dinners…

In the past few years, I live a more secluded and peaceful life, surrounded by plants, books, music, animal(s), textile handwork, students when I am teaching, and as a Catholic, with my daily prayers.

What do you consider to be a healthy and gratifying lifestyle and what is your advice in creating and sustaining it?

In my opinion, regardless of the diet preferences, more or less healthy habits, socially proposed and acceptable measure(s) of success, etc. the key element for a gratifying and healthy lifestyle is one’s decision to live a truthful and honest life. There is no greater punishment to go through life as an actor unless it is one’s profession. Each of us has a unique set of talents, a unique personality, I dare say, a unique mission, so the personal lifestyle should reflect that uniqueness. We are not able to control all the situations, but we can nurture ourselves by our personal choices and actions. I tend to believe that as we age and become more mature, we should also become more tolerant, so that quality could certainly add to the standard of the lifestyle, regardless of the circumstances.

With Mr Christian Thimonier, former ambassador of the Republic of France in Skopje, enjoying the student fashion show of the International Fashion Institute Izet Curi,
Skopje 2020 (photo by courtesy of Macedonia Welcome Centre)

Where do you look for inspiration and motivation?

As a designer, most of the time I am self-referencing or getting inspiration from my closer and wider surrounding, past and present events, with glimpses of the future. As for the lifestyle, I am doing my best to respond to my needs. Again, the motivation comes from me, but also from people whom I admire, especially people that have gone through different life challenges, yet remained dignified and truthful to themselves.

From an early age, Nikola Eftimov has shown great enthusiasm for decorating his home. These photos depict his flat during his late 20s and early 30s and were published in the journal Vest, in 2002

The flat in 2011

Nikola Eftimov

Part of the plant collection of Nikola Eftimov

Photos from the FB blog dedicated to vegan food

Enjoying the afternoon tea

On a more worldly level, a nice interior design magazine consumed with a cup of Earl Grey tea and cucumber sandwiches can be a very stimulating and inspirational experience. The same goes for a glass of wine with vegan snacks before joining the lifestream of an opera premiere from some of the renowned European opera houses.

Living in North Macedonia is exciting and distinct?

North Macedonia is famous for its beautiful natural features and unique cultural heritage. Despite the post-transitional stressful conditions, its population succeeded to retain relative calmness, openness, sense of humor, creativity, and traditional hospitality, which are very promising signs for the future. Hopefully, as all the integrative processes unroll, more and more of the still-missing-contents of a fuller, meaningful, and contemporary lifestyle will become part of our daily life.

I have traveled and spent a certain amount of time in different countries, yet, R. N. Macedonia is the country I call home.