Our first UFA finalist, born in Russia, living in the land of Botticelli absorbing Italian romanticism and with London fever in her heart, Anastasia and her work, both are driven by eclectic cultural diversity.
A recent graduate of MA Alta Mood at Academia Costume e Moda and with a degree in Textile Design from Central Saint Martins, Anastasia is attempting to redefine couture by experimenting and combining artisan techniques with high fashion. By marrying metropolitan style and crazy flamboyancy, treading on the thin line between reality and imagination through hand drawing and illustrative prints, she is creating conversations through her work. Her work makes a tongue-in-cheek statement between colours and textures, adding humour and personality to her designs.
Both my world and my work consist of pushing the boundaries and questioning our understanding of fashion and how we can utilise a more creative approach to meet the consumption demand but also better the environment that we live in.
Fashion world as we know it has changed and will grow immensely and through my work, I want to advocate slow, personal and experimental approaches, making each piece unique.
When we asked Anastasia, about her latest project; Magpie which was also her graduation collection, this is what she had to say.
Idea of " Magpie" comes from old Folk stories. Through out Eastern Europe magpies are known for theft and obsession with shiny objects which they collect and keep the treasures for themselves. This represents my personal connection and also the fabrics used.
This collection reflects my obsession with exploring the boundaries of Haute Couture and trying to question them by using material which you find in any household kitchen in combination with luxury fabrics. The pieces have their own life and characteristics which are created through hand craft of the textiles but also through prints, paintings and finishings. Seduction of the streets has been a huge inspiration; the theatrical performances of day to day, directly representing current society.
Inspired by revolution and rebellion throughout Soviet Union as well as street style movements focused on late 70s -80s. Heavily based on icons such as Leigh Bowery and the New Romantics period, over exaggeration, over decoration and flamboyancy. More is More. Silhouettes echoing " Zoot Suits" power dressing and contradiction are the elements which drive the collection.
This collection reflects my obsession with exploring the boundaries of Haute Couture and trying to question them by using material which you find in any household kitchen in combination with luxury fabrics.
Tell us about your creative process. From sketch to realisation.
I always have something that I am fascinated by even if I am finishing a project. I tend to discover something that catches my eye during any research, it may be irrelevant now but makes me want to explore further. Whether it maybe be fabric manipulation or I read some story which fascinated me. I come from a textile design background, so when I have an initial idea I tend to run with it and start trying to express my ideas through drawing or fabric sampling and if something that I created was successful or made me feel excited the end story may change, but I think it’s an organic process. My Masters collection started with a fairy tale of a bird stealing jewelry and ended up with me using tin foil to create jackets. I do draw a lot as well, using mixed media and bold colours, which may affect the materials I use. It was my first collection and I have learned a lot and was also able to find ways of collaborating my artistic tendencies with Haute Couture fashion finishings. You just have to go with your gut and trust yourself.
The juxtaposition of cultures always gets my mind boggling and trying to figure out how to preserve or develop our youth culture further through this pandemic and that alone gets me thinking.
What inspires you as a designer?
Honestly it can be anything. Due to the situation in the world and the fact that I live alone I spend a lot of time thinking… and then thinking about how I am thinking, so basically over analysing everything. Now that we are able to go out, it is like a new world. I am trying to see simple things in a new light. Generally saying, it tends to be people, the environment I am in, street style and art. Due to the fact that I have a lot of my friends spread across the world I have totally different perspectives, someone may be telling me about their weekend and how they went to a club in London and didn’t see the light for two days and other people going Villa Pamphili in Rome. The juxtaposition of cultures always gets my mind boggling and trying to figure out how to preserve or develop our youth culture further through this pandemic and that alone gets me thinking. Since I slowly ran out of money and fabric shops were shut during the lockdown here in Italy, I ended up using anything that was around me, it’s challenging but you never know what results you can get. Art tends to inspire me always, by art I mean it can be anything design related from movies to sculpture. My all time favourite to re-watch is “ Death Becomes Her” directed by Robert Zemeckis and loving Cy Twombly the painter.
My heritage and the combinations of other cultures weave into my work even if I do not realise it. I have a bigger pool to dip into when it comes to research and history.
What techniques do you use? We saw that your recent collection had a lot of unique treatment and techniques involved.
I aim for each piece to have their own life and characteristics which are created through handcraft of the textiles and eclectic surface elaborations. So I always have to have a strong, interesting ( to me ) research behind any final product. Using combinations of fabrics, expensive, cheap, transparent and opaque, I kind of see it as a collage, which contradicts the idea of Haute Couture I suppose but that is the point of my work. I kind of balance between imagination and reality, trying to recreate expensive fabrics through unconventional materials, whether metaphorically or physically. As I mentioned earlier, I did Textile Design back at Central Saint Martins, specialising in print. So I practiced a lot of screen printing and experimenting with various techniques, it was all quiet hands on, so it kind of stuck with me. I always try to implement print, playing with graphics, combining digital which is a lot more modern and hand painting or hand craft together to finalise the puzzle.
I think my cultural confusion is something that drives my work, creating contradictions and conversations through it. Metropolitan style with crazy flamboyancy.
Born in Russia, but living in London and Italy for the most part of it, how does it affect your work as a designer, and a creative person?
Massively! My heritage and the combinations of other cultures weave into my work even if I do not realise it. I have a bigger pool to dip into when it comes to research and history. I went to boarding school when I was eleven so technically I grew up in the UK and constantly tried to escape my own country. And not until I arrived in London for my BA and also now, I am fascinated by it. I feel like there is something very strong in embracing who you are. During lockdown was the first time in a while when I felt homesick so I probably analysed everything more distinctly. I think my cultural confusion is something that drives my work, creating contradictions and conversations through it. Metropolitan style with crazy flamboyancy. London is a lot more expressive, while being there I have met a lot of people with different backgrounds, worked very hard while studying there, many MANY sleepless nights. I think it definitely made me quite tough and experimental in my approaches. Whereas Russia and Italy are probably a lot closer regarding personalities, a lot more traditional, prim and proper.
I love chaos, but it has to be perfect chaos.
What narratives or emotions do you want to generate through your work/ brand ?
You can never know what people think really. I have a very personal approach while designing. I can spend hours ironing or painting, or printing or pleating to achieve the effect that I want. I love chaos, but it has to be perfect chaos. Therefore when other people look at it, you obviously feel anxious but that is why I like to make a narrative behind my work. I do not think of myself as just a fashion designer, I am a creator and strive to make pieces that relate to the world now. With the culture clash that I have experienced allows me to pick and choose what I want to talk about. A folk tale which I used as inspiration for my final work was about a Magpie, but then it evolved into the precise material I chose which then created a disagreement whether what I was making is appropriate. Slow fashion, fashion with an idea or a story, one off pieces, pieces that are special which reignite that debate about luxury. I believe investing into an item should be more treasured, just like a painting, not the create and throw away approach that we have developed.