Projects / +7 hours

+7 HOURS interweaves the Japanese and Bulgarian culture through the visual language of contemporary fashion design. The inspiration comes from the traditional Japanese and Bulgarian culture, the personal story of the owners of authentic Japanese kimonos, combined with the phenomena of contemporary urban life and lifestyle in both countries.

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Two are the main thematic complexes we associate with our understanding of Japan: preservation of tradition and technological progress.

“+ 7 HOURS”, which literally indicates the time difference between the two countries, Bulgaria and Japan, in transcendent sense carries the breath-taking spirit of “overtaking” time, futurism and utopia, crossing time and space and their “cancellation“, the ability to reach out and touch two remote worlds and cultures in a foreseeable period of time. The number 7 is a symbolic number for the project‘s participants: this is the number of our seven transitional and insomnia nights, of the hours we spent for our photo- and film-shootings in Tokyo, the seven days full of intense meetings, observation, visits and working during our research travel to Japan, the need for so much more than seven hours in order to get to know more facets from the Japanese ambiance and culture … The motto of the number seven is also not random: Understanding. Understanding and respecting the foreign culture. Understanding of the own one, re-considered anew by its encounter with the distant and magical culture of Japan and the sense of transcendental closeness.

In our global world, in which the individual increasingly recedes to the universal and characteristic features are blurred, we become more and more aware of the need for self-determination, finding ourselves by exploring other cultures and mentality that are foreign to us but perceived as close.

We need a distance, a moving away from our roots, a collision with a distant culture, to look at them from a different perspective and feel again our connection to them. Our goal as artists and designers is to be able to translate our roots into a contemporary visual language inspired by a new, unfamiliar, dynamic urban environment and a way of life that we experienced during our research travel to Tokyo, Japan.

Clash of time and space, the coexistence of tradition with high technology.
Long-distance crossing, intertwining of different cultures, tastes and perceptions, reality and fiction, past, present and future.

What attracts and interests us in Japan and its culture and contemporary everyday life is on the one hand the parallel non-dual coexistence of the past with present and future, of preserved roots and traditions with modern urban life, of craftsmanship with super-technology. Modern products are based on traditional techniques that are interpreted in a new and extraordinary way, with new expressions, through a contemporary view and with the help of the high technological achievements of the digital world. Yet in the ultimate result the human interference, the imperfection is readable, entirely in the spirit of wabi sabi – the Japanese ideal of the beauty of the imperfect, fleeting, and transient. On the other hand, we aim a critical view towards disturbing social currents (isolation, depression, escapism) and the deleting your own identity by accepting a foreign one (subcultures, cosplay).

“A Bulgarian body within a Japanese soul. Or vice versa. Being your real self through your roots, the knowledge of your family and the exploration of foreign times, history and authenticity. Through the fabrics, the symbols, the traditional costumes so needed in our modern world to be closer to those we come from.”
(Irmena Chichikova – actress, inspirer of the project)

+7 HOURS was part of the official programme of PLOVDIV-European Capital of Culture 2019, focus: Japanese culture and was funded by EU JAPAN FEST, PLOVDIV 2019, NAOS Bulgaria and the Embassy of Japan in Bulgaria, as well as supported by the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Japan.

The project was part of the Days of Japanese Culture 2019 and is in the official programme of the Triple Anniversary of the relationships between Japan and Bulgaria 2019.

Bulgarian fashion designers:

Alexander Gerginov, Georgi Florov, Dilyana Ivanova, Neli Mitewa, Polina Sotirova, Simeon Atanasov, Stanislava Dimitrova, Tsvetalina Atanasova, Yana Dvoretska

Japanese fashion design students of BUNKA Fashion College Tokyo:

Yucheng Zhou, Mai Sudo, Miki Ogu, Ryuga Kawabe


Neli Mitewa


Dora Somova, Iren Yamami, Katya Cherpokova

Project partner in Japan:

Toyomi Sato

Exhibition set design:

Momchil Tasev/PISTOLET Design Studio

Exhibition Locations:
  • 2019 SKLAD Plovdiv, Bulgaria
  • 2019 Fashion show at Skopje Fashion Weekend
  • 2020 Fashion photography exhibition at DOZA Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • 2021 NEXT 7 HOURS – SOFIA edition video
  • 2022 NEXT 7 HOURS – PLOVDIV edition, video presentation at SARIEV Gallery, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Nominations and awards:
  • Fashion Collaboration Award 2020 from BIG, Center for Creative Economics of Southeast Europe in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and inclusion in the catalogue of the best design achievements “BIG SEE REPORT 2020”;
  • nomination in the FASHION category of “ART-ACTION – Art with a Cause”-Award, Sofia, Bulgaria.

Projects / +7 hours

Research travel to Tokyo

Projects / +7 hours


Projects / +7 hours



+7 HOURS – Fashion film

featuring: Irmena Chichikova
screenplay and directing: Alexander Gerginov
camera: Ayako Kobayashi, Roy Mizuno
editing: Alexandra Nenkova

styling: Alexander Gerginov
hair and makeup: Slav

setting & lighting concept: Momchil Tasev, Alexander Gerginov
set design: Momchil Tasev
projection: Ayako Kobayashi, Roy Mizuno
music: Ooshi Uemoto
producer: Mira Draganova

special thanks to “do-c sauna + sleep Ebisu” capsel hotel.

Dressed in intertwined cultures
Japan stuns, confuses, bothers, entices, dazes and absorbs you.

Living vertically, on the floors of the elongated buildings, in the elevator gap between the commercial noise and the quiet tea room. Producing ruthless futurism and worshipping the created by hand, made by your ancestors. Far and at the same time inexplicably close.
What causes the feeling of such closeness?

The curiosity: about an incomprehensible culture, its magic and its ritualism, the multilayer you want to spread.

The admiration: for futuristic visions, for the coexistence with the most sophisticated technologies, for the urban life with all its pleasures and ailments. The worshipping: towards the roots, the cultural traditions in order to transmit tribal memory, respect and love for those we come from.

We flew seven hours ahead on silky Japanese kimonos with exquisite patterns and inwrought stories, on grandmother’s embroideries, on paper like textiles or fabrics with iridescent lights like those in Tokyo by night, equipped with luggage full of manga hero icons, our mother’s wedding trousseau, letters of foreign friends and a recipe for a ceremonial dub loaf.
And here they are, embodied in conceptual fashion: the impossible possible connections and interweavings: Dresses made of memories, melted in futuristic designs.
(Neli Mitewa, curator)

FESTIVALS – official selections, screenings, nominations and awards:
– selection for Seattle International Fashion Film Festival, Porto International Fashion Film Festival, CANIFFF Canadian International Fashion Film Festival, Sarajevo Fashion Film Festival,
– nomination for “Best Costume Design 2020” at the CANIFF Festival in Canada,
– nomination for “Best Costume Design” and “Best Hair & Makeup” at the Sarajevo Fashion Film Festival,
– nomination for „Best Costume Design“, „Best Art Direction“, „Best Cinematography“, „Best Editing“, „Best Makeup“ at La Jolla International Fashion Film Awards, San Diego, USA;
– „Best Costume Design“ Award from Sarajevo Fashion Film Festival.