The process of designing her final collection took a spiritual turn for Omsk Fashion Design School student Nadine Khatipova. She found herself accidentally inspired by Zen Buddhism: each look in her seven piece collection encapsulates one of the religion’s key principles: asymmetry or Fukinsei, simplicity or Kanos, conciseness or Koko, naturalness or Shizen, thoughtfulness or Yugen, freedom from limits or Datsuzoku and silence or Sejaku.
The result is a collection of distinct but cohesive looks which are captivating in their bold use of colour and print. Floor length tunics dresses in orange and teal are accompanied by collarless embroidered coats and an asymmetric t-shirt dress is criss-crossed with bright orange strips. And, in true Russian style, everything comes with a hat.
The inspiration behind your final collection is very specific, where did it stem from?
I found my inspiration six months ago. I was in St. Petersburg, it was raining and I accidentally turned into a bookshop, where I came across a huge book about the art of eastern Asia, Zen Buddhism and Japan. Japanese fashion designers, such as Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto, have excited me for many years but this was something different, something that affected me much deeper. It seemed that ideas that had lived inside me for a long period suddenly found very precise wording in the seven principles of Zen, which saturate the whole culture and art of Japan.
How did this translate in to your garments?
Every look is an embodiment of a different Buddhist principle. For example, the principle of “conciseness or Koko” is well expressed in the concept of “beauty, which arises as a consequence of the practical application” and suggests qualities associated with age. It is perfectly seen in everyday objects: patina on old furniture or chips on a porcelain cup.
This concept is revealed in my collection due to the rough texture of my fabric, which creates an illusion of oft worn clothes, and in the achromatic colour scheme and design. The principles of kimono and the modular system were also used, reflecting the Japanese custom of reusing material.
Designing your final collection can be a stressful experience, did your research in to Zen help you cope with this at all?
Zen tells us that an artist is experienced enough when he can create a product spontaneously without too much thought. When the old artist was asked how much time he needs to draw bamboo, his answer was: “Fifty years and five minutes – fifty years to study the bamboo and five minutes to draw it.”
I had been thinking about the idea and design for this collection for a very long time, but then decided to relax: it’s naturalness that makes the best product after all… Ironically the design, colour, and silhouette of my garments came to me the very next day when I was brushing my teeth.
Some students create their final collections with an eye to selling it to at the end whereas others use it solely as a way to express themselves; how did you approach yours?
When I create things, I reflect so deeply on them that they become enriched with a lot of personal thoughts and feelings – a sort of artistic selfishness I suppose – although it is also important to my work that I have a precise knowledge of consumer needs and world trends.
By trend I mean the subconscious willingness of the consumer to buy the product. Before creating my collection, I carefully studied the potential buyer’s philosophy of consumption.
The key factor here is a Japanese phenomenon in Japanese consumer culture which is expressed mostly in the pursuit of authenticity and genuineness. The same features are typical of my target consumer: she is ‘non-demonstrative’, doesn’t want a picture or a label but desires the idea and philosophy which is, literally, sewn in to every crease.
Did this affect your design process?
The target audience determined the choice of natural materials for the collection such as leather, silk, linen and suit fabric. During work on my collection I used production methods that had just appeared in Russia, for example, digital prints on natural fabrics. I also used my own sketches. Unfortunately, the main site for production is situated in Vologda, almost 3000 km away from my city; this created some obvious difficulties for my work.
How has your collection been received so far?
Selling the collection happens mainly after the fashion show. Once a year, in April, our school holds a fashion as part of a contest. A major part of my collection already has buyers, which is great considering the fashion show hasn’t even taken place yet. If something can’t be sold right away, you can try and arrange things through boutiques for young designers, which exist in our city thanks to our school. I think this is a great experience for students and gives us an opportunity to analyse the consumer market before we graduate.
How does it feel to be a designer about to take her first steps into the fashion industry?
I am very grateful to my school, where I grew up not only as a professional, who loves her job, but also as a person, who doesn’t think of it as a job. For me, design is a way of thinking that fills all my life without breaks and days off. Therefore there is definitely no plan B, only Plan A: my life and my designs. To me they are equally important.
More of Nadines work can be seen here