Zita Mészáros has been a professional fashion model and stylist for more than twenty years. She spent most of her professional life in Paris, but in 2019, she temporarily moved back home to Hungary, and a few months ago, she opened her designer bistro called pr09re55 at 43 Pozsonyi Road in Budapest. Visitors do not get the usual bistro and concept store experience—rather a beautiful and delicate set of senses from everything that shapes Zita’s taste in gastronomy, design, fashion and art. We asked the model about the establishment of pr09re55.
We are scheduling the photoshoot, and Zita is documenting in advance exactly what time the place is flooded with sunlight. Later on, I realize that our goal may also be to capture and recall the moment when she first saw the place for rent from the window. The tiny and cozy place where every single object has now a story, and where everything from coffee cups through Zoltán Demeter’s “Hárs” Brut champagne in Tokaj to the available Trudon perfumes reflects her taste. With a scent cloud coming out of the beautiful perfume bottle and pulsating music, the frothy coffee in grandma’s vintage cup is served, and the Kusmi tea is resting in a teapot with Scandinavian design features. Zita’s not kidding, it’s really all about tuning in different senses. We are surrounded by treasures, our gaze never rests: Bauhaus album, 1984 by G. Orwell, VECSEI Millinery hats, L.G.R handmade Italian sunglasses and the first Sentiments dress in which Zita stepped onto the runway. Some things are available for purchase, some are not—we will only know if we ask Zita what she wants to sell, more precisely, as she says: she shares with others. I know only a few bistros in Budapest, which would be this characterful.
How did you come up with the idea to open pr09re55, and how do you describe the place?
The story is more about fate than consideration. I live in the immediate vicinity of the shop, and one morning I saw the golden sunlit interior behind the window, the plaid stone floor… “For rent”. I was standing there, imagining the crystal chandelier, the copper marble countertop, the neon lights, Kilim pillows, Art Deco tables, Thonet chairs…
The pr09re55 is the “eclectic gem of senses”. Bistro, micro gallery, tea room, reading room, cocktail bar, vintage corner, perfumery—the offer is versatile and experience-oriented. Here you can choose from objects and products collected according to fundamental values and ethical considerations, while enjoying pleasant music and tasting the delicacies of the bistro.
How has your professional journey evolved over the years and how does pr09re55 fit into this now?
Twenty-five years ago, I started working in the fashion industry, twenty-three of which I spent abroad, twenty in Paris. As a model of the Maison Chloé between 2002 and 2013, and then at the Lanvin house next to Alber Elbaz between 2013 and 2015, I learned all the tricks of the profession firsthand. In 2016, I received my MBA in Global Fashion Management Executive from the Institut Français de la Mode. I have been working in casting director, stylist and merchandiser positions with different French and American brands for fifteen years.
The pr09re55 is a design universe founded in Paris in 2018, organically grown out of the name brand, whose core values are quality and sustainability. The shop located at 43 Pozsonyi Road in Újlipótváros, in Budapest is built around this, which evokes the world of concept stores that are popular abroad. In this boutique format, the bistro has a rather community-building role, the main activity being the sale of objects and products that are part of the design universe.
I have been commuting between Paris and Budapest since 2019, but thanks to the dynamic team, pr09re55 is becoming increasingly autonomous, so I’ll soon be able to smoothly complete the Paris seasons, and I may even have time for a few treasure hunting campaigns. At the same time, it will always be important for me to be there in person, and I have had the opportunity to meet many interesting and sophisticated people here. I made a place where I also want to spend time.
What was your concept when designing the interior, what atmosphere did you want to create?
My roots and the many years spent with the best in the profession have created a special design guide, a kind of accent—I speak it and it also defines the character of pr09re55. I can describe this atmosphere with ten concepts, on the basis of which I have selected design elements and products: eclectic, world traveler, gourmet, boho, vintage, rarity, elegance, decadence, subtlety, play. Art Deco, oriental carpet, leather, chrome, crystal chandelier, velvet, marble, green plants, neon light—their fine, careful rationing and placement form a unit. In the space, objects for sale and not for sale, called exhibition objects, alternate. The products in the store, from champagne through cheese selection to perfumes, are all personal favorites and represent the values of quality, sustainability and craftsmanship.
What are the three elements in the space whose history is particularly important to you?
One of them is my grandmother’s seventy-five-year-old cup—we have a guest who will only drink frothy coffee from it. Likewise, the glass-copper, floral Sputnik wall lamp from the sixties is important to me, which leads to the vintage corner at the flight of the stairs. I dreamed of such a piece and it was the first treasure I found in Budapest. Another favorite is the black checkered stone floor, which was the flooring of the hairdressing salon that used to operate here. It was clear that it had to be kept, it is an integral part of the space—it confirms the eclecticism of the interior and my belief that the old is worth cultivating, even if we are open to the new.
Boglárka Nagy’s exhibition Vive La Femme is open in pr09re55 until 30 April.
Photos: Dániel Gaál