Beauty and functionality – that is something to strive for!
Omsk Fashion Design School student Maria Abrosimova used World War II military uniforms as the starting point of her Fall 2013 womenswear collection, Ode-45. Although undoubtedly an oft referenced period, Abrosimova created garments which re-envisioned the classic trench coat in a way never seen before.
Taking the basic silhouette of military garments, her floor-length layered dresses in organza, fur, knitted fabric and chiffon transform an ultra-masculine aesthetic into something very feminine. Colourful prints and pops of bright colours add a slightly sporty urban edge. Abrosimova explains: I strived to create a feminine but strong image which sees the wearer as a symbol of mercy and peace, the opposite of war and violence.
Maria, we often see military style on the catwalks but your interpretation is very different, how did you achieve this?
I took the suit of clothes as a basis from which to work, seeking its quintessence of brevity and functionality. When looking at my collection I want people to see the embodiment of the female image through elements of men’s uniform. I used a specific set of recognizable military symbols to achieve this and give the original uniform new meaning, especially in the shape of the costume. There is a union between male and female clothing: dress-shirt, dress-jacket, dress-trench coat.
The silhouettes and colours of my collection directly stem from my inspiration and creative research in particular a series of 11 photographs by Robert Capa which show the landing of Allied troops on the beach of Normandy. In my collection the military uniform is transformed – it keeps its outline, but is freed and takes on a new meaning. This collection has a strong emotional component, it shows my understanding of the story; it is my tribute to history; a memory recall.
That is quite a complex concept for a final collection; where do you start looking for inspiration?
In our time it is so easy to find all kinds of information on the internet, but when you have the opportunity to meet interesting people and see places first-hand, of course, you choose these experiences for inspiration.
I am a happy person and I am inspired by the people I work with. I adore books – books on art, design, simply imaginative literature; in fact I am inspired by all three Past, Present and Future. In the past you see the experience of others, the tradition, the history; in the present – you make the conclusions yourself by looking at the world; and as for the future, it is up to us to make it the best we can.
What do you feel are the biggest strengths of your collection?
Ode-45 is a collection which belongs completely to its creator, me; it is my world. I use hand-made techniques and sophisticated colour palette and cut but my speciality is breaking the rules when it comes to the details. I worked with Finnish Saga Furs which allowed me to go beyond what would normally have been possible. Fur is an amazing material; being creative with it requires a combination of lateral thinking and cold calculation.
Designing a final collection can be quite daunting, where did you start?
For me the creation of the collection begins with the story … and the image. I sketch and make notes, delve into creative sources, texturize the facts … as if writing the unique story of a character. I do not usually look for specific material – my inspiration can come from anywhere: a song, the excerpt from a book, a photograph, my own thoughts and memories.
What about the actual process of designing your collection.
Textile design is an integral part of my work. With this collection I have combined different textures and materials to take them beyond the way they are usually perceived. The main techniques I used are simple ones: stitching and overlay, but I used them to combine different textiles in search of something different. As mentioned previously I like to find ways to break the rules, the usual way of doing things.
Stitching for example, can be used functionally, but also artistically. In Ode-45 I used it as tool it to combine fur, knitted fabric, chiffon and beads. Then I approached form and volume in a modular fashion relying first on the shape of a shell and then adding that of algae.
Where do you feel would be the ideal place to show your collection?
I’ve always liked the Russian architecture. This maybe unusual but I think everyone can find something singular and unique to like about it. If I were to show Ode-45 on a catwalk I would chose an indoor swimming pool from the Soviet era. An echo to my own childhood memories, it would add the perfect finishing touch to the collection.
After this beautiful collection, what’s next?
I always strive learn, study even when working; it is very important for me. I’m not thinking about starting my own business right now, instead I am looking for ways to further improve my skills and gain experience. I would like to search out new paths in Costume Design; in particular, I am interested in the synthesis between design and sport. Beauty and functionality – that is something to strive for.