Omsk Fashion Design School
Well known for its traditional handicrafts – including quilting, knitting, embroidery, beading and lace – Omsk Oblast provides an excellent backdrop for the education and training of Russia’s future fashion elite. Founded in 1977, Omsk Fashion Design School is the Fashion School of Omsk State Institute of Service, one of the largest universities to be found in Siberia former capital.
From its origin, the school’s philosophy has been based on the notion of self-sufficiency and the belief that “behind every talented student there is a grown-up person;” the belief that talented students garnered in one place called school, should be able to count on its teachers’ support to grow.
The concept of self-sufficiency translates into a systematic approach to training. It starts with the idea that in order to know which path to take, you need to know where you start from. With this in mind students are taught the art of dress-making as a complex system consisting of a number of simple elements which they must know and understand.
These elements cover from the properties of different colours, to plastic modelling, pattern cutting, new technologies and basic design techniques.
This concept of self-sufficiency is re-enforced by the school’s geographical remoteness, its distance to western fashion. This remoteness creates a tight bond between all those working and studying at the school. They gain a rich personal experience add further personality and individuality to their designs.
Because of the relative scarcity of the Siberian fashion industry, Omsk Fashion Design School from its inception had to be self-sufficient too; Western Siberia offered few industry professionals the school could hire as teachers. As a result the school’s governing committee and a large portion of its teaching staff graduated from the school. This is unique among fashion schools worldwide. It has contributed to make Omsk a single meaningful centre for creative initiatives.
Omsk Fashion Design School aims to train a new generation of fashion designers who pay great attention to details and possess design, technology and stylistic skills but also with a talent for understanding the nuances of the market. Each student is monitored to ensure they gain three qualities the school deems necessary: a “head” – the ability to think, to acquire knowledge and manage self-improvement; the “light bulb” – an ability to demonstrate desire, energy and initiative; and the “music” – an intuition, the ability to perceive, to “know and not think.”
The Omsk Fashion Design School believes that these three qualities ensure their graduates will be able to develop successful fashion careers. The school often produces intellectual designers who create complex and conceptual collections.
The graduates technical skills and knowledge allow them to experience a sense of ease when creating. As the Russian expression goes “If you don’t want to work hard all your life, find a job you are passionate about.”
Continue reading below: Galina Tomalcheva, head of Omsk Fashion Design School.
Galina Tomalcheva was a member of the School first cohort of ‘Outfit Design’ students in 1977. Upon graduation in 1982 she was immediately hired by school. Working initially as a tutor in the Outfit Design programme, she was soon promoted to head of the school in 1985 and as such she was personally involved with developing the school approach in place today.
Galina was awarded the Russian national ‘Silver Palm’ and the title of ‘Honoured Worker in Culture’ for her contribution to fashion education in Russia. Today Omsk Fashion Design School is considered one of the best fashion schools in Russia. Today, Galina is course leader for MA diploma projects.
Modeconnect was lucky enough to be able to meet with and interview Galina.
Galina, tell us about the school. What is your role as head?
The main asset of any school is its team of teachers and its method. The method of teaching is an instrument, a way of transferring knowledge from the teacher to the student, and the teacher is a galaxy, a system, living by its own rules.
The galaxies can be very different and are often spread unevenly in space: it is possible to find a whole group of similar galaxies in one area, and no galaxy in another. I’m lucky; our school is a group of very bright galaxies, all gathered in one place. All objects in the galaxy take part in the movement towards one centre of gravity. This centre is the head and the role of the head is to supervise everything happening in the school. My point is that for the school to work well all those involved must have a great deal of self-worth.
How does your experience help in your current role?
In Russia we say: “To understand means to have experienced”. Today I’m the laureate of a national award for my work in fashion, an honoured worker of culture and a member of the Russian Designers Union but once I was just a first year student, then I was given the chance to work at the School – I went through all these stages so that all my student’s needs and problems are very familiar me. I remember when I was a student my classmates calling me “Mommy Galya”.
So you can easily answer the question – is your professional career a gift or a burden?
It is a gift! If you look up this word in a dictionary, you’ll see that a gift is something very valuable, important, given to a person by nature; it is good, it’s God-given. I can definitely answer this question without thinking.
What is fashion for you?
In traditional thinking fashion is connected with change. For myself, fashion is constant; it is my professional field, my scope of teaching. I can relate to experimentation and rejuvenation though; for me fashion is a creative process living its own life inside of me. It is a state of mind.
Fashion has its own rules. How important are the technical skills in training of a fashion designer?
I agree with Russian designer Arthemi Lebedev when he said: “There are no rules in design! We know all the rules but do not understand the principles by which they come together.” There is an alphabet that every designer must know but no one can guarantee that this pure knowledge will help you succeed.
Technical skills are very important. They allow the designer to speak one language with the constructor, technologist and stylist; they teach how to “feel” the outfit. Our students get all the same information but each creates individual designs because every one of them has their own perception and ways to put this information together… Our students have this sixth sense.
What is unique about your educational method?
Our method is unique because we have an individual approach and each teacher has a genuine passion for his subject. Our school has developed through opposition! Opposition to its geographical location as we are very far away from, not only European cultural centres, but also from Russian ones. Opposition to climate, our winter is 6 months long and the temperatures can fall below 30C. Opposition to the lack of design teachers when we first started, we had to ‘create’ them ourselves! At the time the information about the fashion industry that we needed was not available to us – this was pre-internet – so we had to “dig down”. This history compliments our unique teaching methods and gave us the right to call ourselves a school, a school of thought.
As your teachers were your students, what advice do you give to those who want to teach?
Never stop learning. There must always be a student inside a teacher. To be mobile you need to be light. Thinking you know everything will prevent you from growing. It is important to pay attention to the experience of people who are close to you in spirit. Being a teacher is beneficial, it gives your life substance and allows you to be generous and reciprocal, but at the same time it is demanding. A student who is bored will leave. All this sets the bar very high for the teachers.
What do you want for your school in the future?
I want new technology, new equipment, beautiful and spacious buildings. But the most important thing is to have passionate and interesting students.
What do you enjoy doing outside of fashion?
My family, my friends, my desires, my hobbies … my life! I wanted to quit smoking and now haven’t smoked for two years. I decided to learn how to swim and so I learned to swim breaststroke. I started to drive one year ago. When I plant seeds in the garden, flowers grow up. What is more beautiful than the ample harvest?