Residency time: 15 September – 15 November 2017

Monika, a fashion designer based in New York and Hamburg was staying for two months as a resident of RUCKA in Cesis to develop her new collection and exhibition, Urban Pilgrims – Positions in Advanced Fashion. The exhibition were on Cesis Exhibition hall  October 24 – November 5, 2017. (Photography Kaspars Goba)

She  created a one of its kind fashion collection by utilizing high quality natural garments that were made in the past and have a special history and spirit, and bringing them into a contemporary context. In her work, she applies design techniques like de-/reconstruction, repurposing and zero waste.

The materials and inspiration for this collection were found all over the world – in Baku and Bruessels, Paris and Hamburg, Cairo and New York…… The “make of” of the collection is entirely based in Cesis and builds on local collaboration and participation.

The work Urban Pilgrims is reflecting on the theme of travelling, movement between spaces and places; about new impressions, experiences…and about transition; as Pilgrim, as Traveller, as Refugee, as Explorer.

The five urban pilgrims will enter the scene one after the other, until they will be shown jointly for a short period. Each outfit has its own identity and spirit. The “DNA” of each outfit and the creation process will be made transparent in set cards – witnesses of what they were and what they are, how they are composed and from which places they come from.

Urban Pilgrims out in the mystic, beautiful forests just outside Cesis, Latvia.
Design Monika Zabel, Photography Lelde Goba


After her RUCKA residency in Cesis, Monika’s own pilgrimmage will continue, together with her collection. While heading back in the direction of New York, she will be touching base in several European cities with her work.

Monika Zabel is a graduate of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and is specialised in sustainable design. Her education also includes a PhD in Economics of Technical University Berlin. She has shown her work at several art exhibitions and gave presentations in Europe and the US, she also curated and contributed to the international exhibition “Art of Fashion” at Poolhaus-Blankenese gallery in Hamburg, and most recently provided a key note speach about “Reconstruction in Fashion” at the Global Sustainable Fashion Week in Budapest.

She was born in Hamburg and lived and worked in cities like New York, Sao Paulo, Moscow, Brussels, London. She is currently based in New York and Hamburg.

The Cesis Fashion Show Cast with Alise Līce, Elga Praulina, Evija Šverna and Monika Zabel.
Design Monika Zabel, Photography Lelde Goba