The art world noticeably shapes your design. Could you discuss any specific artists who have had a significant impact on your design philosophy or creative thinking?
I believe the importance of art is engraved in my work. Growing up, I used to attend art classes after school. I found myself in the basement, quiet, peaceful. It was filled with a tickling smell of paint as well as wooden shelves of miscellaneous objects, textures, bottles and spheres covered in dust. A lesson would begin by setting a composition for a drawing study, a ‘naturemorte’. Afterwards, the light of the projector was set. And suddenly, sitting in front of a composition of an empty bottle, it revealed its deepness of green, the blink of light on the edge of the neck, a slick and subtle curve of its shoulder. Every inch of the object is considered with complete focus during hours of careful study. I drowned in the mindful practice, where an object in front of me existed in lines and layers of colour, that transmitted onto the paper. Ever since then, every thing surrounding me became a subject of artistic study, a dance of colours and shadows. I was chasing beauty in order to define it through my art and design work.
However, as a perfectionist, I found it to be challenging. Such quality can be positive, when work is completed to a high standard, but soon I noticed I was carrying a burden of control. I found myself feeling restricted, it was hard to let go of high result expectations and trust the process to the inner instincts. Predictability of control left me unsatisfied. In search of beauty and authenticity, I rediscovered the paintings of Edvard Munch and Vincent Van Gogh. Their paintings have made the deepest impact on my creations. I was fascinated by the connection of their emotional state and the expressive approach towards painting. Their emotions of pain, fear and despair fused into the artworks. Their lines and colours move in obsessive brush strokes. They strike with the confidence of bold uncontrollable movements. Edvard Munch was even scratching and ripping canvas with knives, leaving the paintings under the rain. They let go of expectations towards the perfection of beauty, stepping towards the unknown. They embraced the emotions that are usually ignored or dismissed to take the lead. Edvard Munch and Vincent Van Gogh face a matter of life and death, almost as if moving towards should reveal a mystery behind their existence. While living in solitude and dedicating all of their time towards painting, their brave lives became a pure testimony towards craft. They are my heroes.
Inevitably, I found beauty in its purest form. It was in the expressive paintings of Munch and Van Gogh. I felt related to the emotions they experienced and it became my objective to apply the same poetic method to my creations. This process is translated into the entire development of my collections. At the beginning of the process, I write a story. Essentially, the story is an inspiration that provokes internal reactions and usually represents my current object of interest, or worry. The story becomes a guide for the future collection, suggesting characters and symbols that will be represented in the garments. Afterwards, similarly to the process of painting, I define the palette of fabric textures and colours similar to the paint palette of the painter. The viscosity, transparency and layering of opacity of paint is the feature I apply to the materials of my garments. Usually, I reach for silk and organza for their quality to reflect colour, build transparency, and create shadow. Afterwards, I overlay them in an uncontrollable and unpredictable way, discovering the natural shape and movement of material. Another way I apply a painting approach to my work is through fabric manipulation. I practice techniques of pleating and gathering – they create a density of colour similar to shadowing of the drawing. Essentially, I work by painting garments with fabrics.
The apple symbol plays an essential role in your work. Could you elaborate on its personal significance?
The symbol of an apple in my work takes its beginning in the ‘Insomnia’ collection. At the beginning of the collection I was at the lowest point of my life. While struggling with a disorder, I began experiencing insomnia. Burning bed sheets wrapped my body in distress. Heated breath suffocated my lungs. The tortured mind was exploding with thoughts. I heard my chest ringing, heart palpitating. Every bone was trembling with shivers. Medication didn’t work, every attempt to fall asleep failed. Someone told me that eating an apple before bed could help me. In hopes for it to be my remedy to find peace, I ate an apple. However, this didn’t help either. Night after night, I continued to believe, but the bitten apple cores scattered next on my bedside table were reminding me of the failed attempts at sleep.
The apple became a symbol of hope, of remedy and despair. It is a symbol of duality between good hope and dark suffering. Perfectly round and symmetrical, it waters the mouth with its sweetness, promising blessing. In the book of Adam and Eve, it is often used to represent the fruit of sin that cursed humanity forever. An object of lust and knowledge offered by the devil that tempted Eve, and she betrayed the trust of God. As a Christian, I believe this memory of the story deeply affected my mind ever since I was a child. It connected my beliefs with my reality. This way, the apple has found its biblical meaning in my sufferings of insomnia.
However, I believe to have a strong attachment to the apple for one more reason. I observed the apple from its point of ripeness until the point it was eaten and dried. The flesh was eaten out, leaving behind the crooked stems and seeds. It had served its function. The beauty of an apple fades into an ugly leftover. The cycle of life is complete. It was time for it to be thrown away to disintegrate. But how beautiful it is – the dried-out body of a fruit, twirling in the spiral, turning into amber and gold. If there is true beauty, then where if not in the fleeting of ripeness? If not in a withering of life? If not in death turning into new life?
What sustains your genuine passion for fashion and craftsmanship despite the overwhelming presence of social media in the industry?
I believe social media in the fashion industry offers incredible possibilities for designers to share their work, develop and connect. As a young artisanal designer, I am grateful to have a chance to share my work on Instagram for free, when, for example, it would not even be an option just 30 years ago.
However, I feel like social media is extremely overwhelming. Today phones are flooded with blinking lights and momentary advertisements. The industry is moving at a fast pace, setting unrealistic standards of life. It is demanding more and more. Towards bodies, towards efficiency, towards quantity of work. People are comparing themselves with others and have less confidence than ever. The industry of fashion is feeding off trends, celebrities and paid sponsorships. Speed has become more important than quality. As a young designer, in order to be considered successful I am expected to take part in the fashion week shows, reach social acceptance and have a large amount of followers and sales numbers.
Despite all this, social media is an undeniable part of our reality. No matter how impactful and/or destructive it may be, no matter what rules and expectations it sets towards each of us, every human and every designer is responsible for their own life decisions. At the end of the day, we all turn off our phones before bed and we are left there, in the darkness with ourselves. Alhough I find social media to have a more negative than positive connotation in the fashion industry, I feel like it provokes a counteraction that only strengthens my assurance in my own beliefs and views towards fashion and beauty.
Somehow, I feel like my passion is coming from a deeper, subconscious level of my comprehension. While observing the constant whirlpool of trends and social media, I felt void. The void of humanity, of authenticity, of purity. Of peace and nature. Of mistakes, ugliness, flaws. I felt the lack of beauty on the other side. Of true reality. Just like light does not exist without the notion of darkness, and life does not exist without death, beauty does not exist without ugliness. This void has filled me with grief and extreme ambition and desire to burst this energy into the world of fashion. Now more than ever I understand my purpose. I want to bring the human craft of hand-making and tactile connection with material back into fashion. I want to let nature guide me into the unpredictable process of garment creation, where the fabrics themselves have a voice and destined shape.
What emotions do you wish your customers to gain from your artisanal couture creations?
I think the most important thing for me as an artisanal designer is to have a client that has a true connection to my creations. I do not necessarily want to expect them to feel anything specific, this would set a certain expectation towards them or my work.
With every artisanal garment comes a story and a unique way of hand-making. When the pieces are finished, they convey a message in themselves – in the patience of the technique, in the poetry of their movement, in the emotions of stitches and colours. I want my creations to speak to the viewers. I want to lead my clients into the depths of their own hearts and imagination. It is more than enough for me if a client or a viewer feels an unexplainable attraction or any strong emotion. Like to a chemical reaction, I aim to provoke an internal response and an appreciation towards craftsmanship. For craftsmanship is a celebration between material and human ability, which is a part of all of us.
As a final thought, how do you remain connected to your roots while embracing the future?
This question is something I think of very often. As the time goes, I cannot help myself but notice how everything around me, including myself, is changing. What exactly is the future? Is it tomorrow? Or next year? Or is it somewhere in five years time? It comes in so quietly, so seamlessly, we don’t even feel its breathless presence until the day, when we look in the calendar and realise how we don’t remember what happened last month. And then I realised that the future is now. It is in every new minute of the day that is capable of bringing endless possibilities.
This makes me think of what is my role in this equation of time. Perhaps, my ‘roots’ are a past version of myself. The person embedded in me, someone who I used to be. A young person with engraved memories, with a naive heart and pure beliefs. With a strong understanding of self and the surrounding world. Sometimes I feel like I still am this person, other times I grief her, I desire her to come back. There was a time when I looked at myself in the mirror and did not recognise who I was looking at. In moments like that, I felt a need to simply go for a walk, practice drawing or stitching. Being mindful during these activities helps remind me of how valuable those precious moments are. They remind me of the potential of humans, the unexplainable instincts hidden in us. They remind me of the complexity of nature, its cyclicality of life. I believe that a simple act of taking time towards things that are most valuable for us will make ourselves stronger and more confident.
To answer the question in short – an understanding of today being the future and keeping consistent with dedicating time towards design and art allows me to grow stronger and move forward with desire to fulfil my purpose.
In the end, I would like to share this quote, that naturally found itself in my work:
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”