Argentum: Retro-Futurism Shines
Recent Omsk Fashion Design School graduate, Veronika Krasnikova, finds the most beautiful design comes from learning from the past whilst looking to the future and constantly pushing boundaries. Her Fall/Winter ’13 collection proves her belief right. Aptly named Argentum, which translates from Latin as Silver, Krasnikova’s collection deftly combines modern fabrics and colours with traditional tailoring and dressmaking techniques.
Voluminous separates in spaceman metallics and billowing sheath dresses in soft neutrals show a fascination with silver fabrics and traces of their inspiration. They evoke in turn influences as disparate as a 1930’s quilted jacket and 1960s pop culture. Showing both technical skill and a great eye for current trends and beautiful clothing, Krasnikova creates in her collection a style she brilliantly terms retro-futurism.
Your collection is futuristic in its feel but also contains some very traditional tailoring elements, where did the inspiration for this combination come from?
Generally I have a great weakness for books, albums with good covers, and fashion magazines from the 80s and 90s. These things are always inspiring. For me printed matter has a greater value than the gigabytes on my laptop.
For this collection I was really influenced by a mix of things; but the main influence was 1950s models wearing Cristobal Balenciaga designs. His silhouettes seem perfect to me.
The other main starting point for this collection was a quilted jacket designed by Charles James in 1937, I love how simple and effective it is but also I find it the perfect embodiment of fashion as a sculptural form. I am impressed by such subtle and restrained design and I wanted to emulate that with my own clothes. With this in mind I started research on the draping first and went from there.
Do you always start designing in this way?
The process, as a rule, begins with the selection of fabrics; it is both a pleasant and important moment. In my experience 90 per cent of the success of a collection is determined by the fabric choices. Everything from the silhouette to tactility depends on the correct choice of material.
I like the design process; no matter how difficult the different stages I always find ways to enjoy the moment. The most difficult stage for me is rarely while working on a collection, it is when the collection is completed and I have to let it go and look for the next idea, the next inspiration.
Tell us about designing this collection in particular.
I prefer a minimalist approach in design, especially when it comes to form and silhouette – I find they are really important aspects of design. For example, in this collection the smooth curved lines of the oval silhouette resulted in voluminous soft shapes and the rising of the shoulder line led to the floating drapery at the back. When I was designing the collection I paid a lot of attention to the profile and to the overall projection of the silhouette.
The greys and silvers in the colour palette come from the idea of a mirror’s surface and form the basis of the collection, I then added bright colour with accents of orange and cold green. I liked the idea of using silver because, for me, it is not only a collection of colours but also represents the actual material from which to I create my sculpture. In reality I used a variety of materials, such as, leather, silver foil, silk with a metallic sheen and silver velvet.
The design process is often very challenging, what were the biggest difficulties you faced?
I found the biggest problem was my perfectionism and a constant sense of doubt that hampered my progress. I always criticize my work but in the end I am really proud of this collection. In fact, I would like to increase the number of pieces in the collections so I can develop my design base even further. Really, I think the most difficult thing for me is not the amount of work that goes in to creating a collection, it is the feeling that comes after the show, when you realise it is all finished and done and the place for something new opens up.
Every designer loves to see real women wearing their clothes; did you have a particular woman in mind when you were designing?
Unfortunately, Russian women tend to choose their clothes very carefully and cautiously. It may be Russian sensibility or rather tradition but most women prefer comfortable and expressionless clothing.
I think European women feel much more able to experiment; there is a big difference between the way people dress in Russia and Europe. This can make it difficult when it comes to talking about a consumer for this collection.
Of course the clothes shown on the models, on the catwalk, do not seem designed for everyday use, but when seen in a different context, as separates, I think they would be accepted as commercial and wearable fashion.
Now you have graduated, how do you envision your career in fashion?
To work in the industry you need to be ambitious, self-motivated, creative, energetic and passionate about fashion and have a working knowledge of marketing and business. Employment within fashion is very competitive and you will find that you are required to work at a much faster pace than you did as a student. Luckily I cannot think of any other professions I could have working 16 hours a day.
In Russia there isn’t really a solid fashion industry yet and it will take time for it to develop. But there are talented designers and schools with a high level of training. Omsk design school graduates have to migrate to Moscow, or even leave the country, to be able to get work. This maybe because designer needs a certain environment that provides them with ideas and inspiration and so fashion designed studios are often in metropolitan cities.
Finally, how do you see the future of fashion?
I like to think about the future. I like to understand how yesterday influenced today and imagine about how today might affect tomorrow. The day after tomorrow I’ll review what I thought mattered yesterday. I think this is the kind of process that you need to go through to forecast trends. Fashion has always served as an illustration of the flight of time
Unfortunately today what this illustration is showing is an obsession with sales curves. It is disappointing but the industry approaches fashion as a business, and business prefers marketers to artists. I fear the period of artists like John Galliano and Alexander McQueen is finished.