vetements stylist lotta volkova on model diversity
The elusive stylist (and sometimes consultant) gives us another reason to look forward to the future.
Vetements' approach to design is literally piece-by-piece. Creative director Demna Gvasalia has been very open about his straightforward yet highly effective method, taking an item of clothing that already exists — a hoodie, or a pair of jeans — and investing it with attitude, asking "How can we make people want to buy this?" While Gvasalia creates clothes, the Vetements collective's super-stylist Lotta Volkova creates worlds. Her 60k Instagram followers inhabit one of dark underground parties, dank memes, and the same air of rebellious post-Soviet creativity that has the whole world captivated. Volkova also has a hand in the Vetements casting and consulting — her and Gvasalia are equally fascinated by the codes of social uniforms — and since the creative director's appointment to the head of Balenciaga, she's responsible for the styling there too.
While Volkova Instagrams with all the restraint of your average teenager — a result of having zero internet until age 12 — IRL it's Gvasalia who gets most of the air time. But in a new interview on Business of Fashion, the cult stylist reveals her thoughts on modern subcultures, the system, and that model diversity blunder. One thing that didn't resonate so well with western consumers was Vetements' (and Balenciaga's) failure to include any models of color in its fall/winter 16 runway show. "Those were some shocking allegations for us," Volkova says. "We cast certain characters for certain looks and felt we were paying a lot of attention to diversity. We had Russian gay people in the casting, people from so many different cultural backgrounds. But I take this as a challenge now to pay more attention for the future. Not because I want to be politically correct, but because I don't want to offend anyone."
On Vetements' radical approach to remixing elements of different cultures, Volkova says this ethos stems from the fact that subcultures don't exist any more. "Kids today — the new generation — they think in different ways," she says. "They don't even have the knowledge of what a subculture is. It is not relevant to them. If they want to wear a punk shirt, that doesn't mean that they have to listen to punk music or have a political point of view. They don't have that mentality." Not that this is a bad thing — when asked to choose a medium that reflects her vision of the future, Volkova quickly names Instagram: "It gives you the opportunity to reach out to anybody you want. I find that very inspiring. I met so many people via Instagram, I just find them randomly, and then I send them a message."
Text Hannah Ongley
Image via Instagram