With Ukrainian fashion week just behind us, i-D's Bojana Kozarevic gets to know the future fashion star.
What are your biggest inspirations?
I love to sketch; every idea or concept comes out of my head as a series of drawings. To put ideas on the paper or any other flat medium is the best exercise for me. I grew up in a family of artists and my native city Odessa is also a really inspirational place.
Does the Ukranian aesthetic influence your own personal aesthetic?
Definitely yes, I feel a strong connection with my home country and get inspired by the different and sometimes odd things that surround me. Telling stories through my work is very important for me. Somehow, I always personally relate to the subject or a concept I am working on.
Tell us about your special project, Protester's Heart 2014?
I came to our Square of Independence in Kiev in the very beginning of the protests in November 2013. I have never been a part of any protest before. Not belonging to any organisation, I still feel a citizen of my country, and I felt responsible to come to the square and show my civil position. Back in November people kept on making posters and leaving them outside on the big stella in the Independence Square, and so I drew a poster of a crowd of people. They were all standing on each other, in the shape of a human and that was my symbol for our support and unification. A day after I left my poster in the square, people were brutally beaten by riot police for the first time. I kept taking part in manifestations together with my friends, no doubt we had to be there to support each other. Our confrontation with the government lasted for three dramatic months and led to more than 100 victims of innocent people, and this number grows as people keep on dying in hospitals afterwards, while our ex-president ran away leaving a posh house and an economical disaster behind. We have never been so proud to be Ukrainians as we are now, and we all feel that we unexpectedly became a one united civil society; we call it Revolution of Dignity. Regarding to the Protesters Heart project, I want to say that everyone is helping as one can; therefore I decided to make this print on the t-shirt, sell it and to give all the earned money to families of victims of our protests. I have produced 50 t-shirts myself and hope to make more in the future.
What do you think of fashion being a medium of political statement?
It's quite a controversial and delicate topic for me. I'd say that as an artist you cannot stand aside when everything is happening just outside your window. It is the same when you are a fashion designer, all the energy of protests and a strong desire for change become inspiration. For my last collection I made a series of prints inspired by this particular energy of what I saw on the streets. The name of it is Volya Series (volya means 'freedom' in Ukrainian). I do understand that fashion medium is perceived as something commercial, but for me it is also a medium that helps to communicate and tell my stories to people. This time it is all about desire for freedom and a spirit of change.
What are your favourite things to work with as a designer?
For the last few years I worked mostly with textile prints, I can put together my love for drawing and creating a visual picture on a fabric. It is also quite simple and fast to produce commercially, when making a digital print. At the moment I have a collaboration with Syndicate, a ukrainian company and together we have been producing a series of printed sweatshirts, dresses and t-shirts.
What do you think is the future of fashion, globally?
I think we might have a uniform in the future, made of really hi-tech fabrics. My dream is an idea of a fabric merged with a digital screen, I don't know if that already exists, but I would love if it could be accessible for many people, so that they could wear whatever colour or pattern they are in mood for.
What is the future of fashion for you, personally?
I want to create my own studio and produce complete collections that will include not only prints but many more other techniques.
You are a big fan of illustration, do you see that as separate to fashion?
Right now it's more a part of my work process. It's really helpful to quickly draw what I have on my mind. When I have free time I love to sketch people, it also helps me not lose my drawing skills. If I don't pick up a pencil for a week, I can immediately see it in my drawings, so I have to practice drawing all the time — it's an important tool.
What do you like most about London?
I love London and this is actually my first time here but I was 17 when I decided to study fashion design. To be inspired by all the great museums and atmosphere is amazing, but it's also great to study in such an important place.
Where do you see yourself in 3 years time?
What first comes to mind is having a family, I would like to have a child and my own studio. I hope I will become serious one day!
What rules do you follow?
Never stop dreaming.
Text Bojana Kozarevic
Stylist Julie Pelipas
Model Lola Dikova
Make-up and hair Helen Khodos