This year, the Sasha Gapanovich brand took part in the Moscow Fashion Week. The clothes of this brand reveal the soul of the true Russian North. Designer Alexandra Gapanovich reconsiders the traditions of the past through modern fashion trends. Sasha Gapanovich’s things are filled with piercing nostalgia, but they do not lose their relevance.
– When did you first become interested in fashion?
– It seems to me that the soil was laid in childhood. My mother is a garment production technologist and I spent a lot of time in her garment factory. We used to go to the stores a lot. She told me: “Go ahead, choose the rags you like. We’ll sew you a dress you like from them.” I chose, and my mother’s friends sewed a dress for me from such pieces.
But a conscious desire to become a designer aroused in me a competition that I entered at the age of 17-18. At that time, I had just entered the school and was sent to our Murmansk festival. At that time, it was held in the format of a creative evening in a nightclub, where like-minded people got together and organized such a competition.
When I first saw how the designers presented their work, how the models moved on the catwalk, I got goosebumps. Even my heart skipped a beat! These collections were made from old, scrap and recycled materials. Things were created from discs, bags, packages – from everything that the designer wanted to use! I loved it. Emotions, ambitions aroused in me! I remember thinking: “I can and I want to.” I want to become a fashion designer, participate in these kinds of contests and do my job well.
After this competition, I began to think about taking part in our Murmansk festival “NaMODnenie”. At the time, I felt insecure as an independent unit, so I worked together. They called us the “Aire” group. The jury criticized us. But I understood that this was my first experience, so I decided not to give up. The jury’s criticisms influenced me very constructively. And the following year we won the Grand Prix with a new collection! We went to Moscow to participate in the “Personnel of the Fashion Industry” competition of the “Exercise” project, where the collection took fourth place.
– What was your job in creating your own brand?
– Although I have been designing for a long time, in 2019 I felt the need to get additional education. I lacked depth, understanding what exactly I want to convey. So I took a training course at Metrics, an online branding and design academy. There I discussed the DNA of the brand, values, concept. He studied marketing strategies. It was there that I entered the creative flow state, immersed myself in the process. I realized, I realized what exactly I want to convey to the audience. I created a collection that later received a scholarship to participate in the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Since then, my brand has been gaining momentum in terms of recognition, receiving invitations to interesting projects.
– In your brand description it says that the themes of “connection of generations” and “legacy of ancestors” are important to you. How did they get to you?
For me, the past is a great source of inspiration. It can and should be studied. It supports me, both at work and in life in general. When you know your roots, you take care of them, carry them with you and pass them on to the next generation. It’s very important. First of all, I am talking about the generations within the family. All the things I create are my personal childhood experience. The smell and texture of a birch chest, in which my grandmother hid sweets for us. Straw. Grass. Field. Chintz dresses. Everything that I saw with my grandmother in the village, with the parents of my friends, I transmitted on my clothes. In shapes, in volumes, in used fabrics. I deliberately break up the texture a bit, aging it up to create a feeling as if this thing was plucked from my grandmother’s chest.
Mixing textures, mixing the current and trendy with the nostalgic, gives me the opportunity to introduce a traditional cut into modernity. I try to present my idea a little veiled. People still read elements of something Russian and traditional. This probably makes sense. Take the past as a source of inspiration, pass it through yourself and transfer it to the modern field.
It’s little things like that that form the bond between generations. Unfortunately, in my life there have been losses of loved ones who can no longer be seen and returned. With the help of things I remember them. I would very much like my daughters to remember me in the same way, through things, when I am gone.
My clients, the people who like my brand, often say: “My grandmother had it. She used those fabrics!”, “It’s so touching and warm!”, “It looks like art.”
– You also mention the “culture of the peoples of the North”. What exactly inspires you and how do you work with primary sources?
– For me, the North is mystery and mystery. Incomprehensibility, silence and depth. I can always be inspired by some kind of trip, another country, another culture. My North is reflected in many layers. I am from Murmansk, where it is very cold, and in childhood we put on a cap, under a cap – another cap, mittens, leggings, stockings, woolen socks, gloves, a scarf, a coat in which you will fall and not get up off the weight
– I saw your collection “Layings”, created in collaboration with the Russian Museum of Ethnography. In it, you explored Sami costumes.
– For me, this is one of my favorite works. It was created as part of a project with FrontFashion and the Ethnographic Museum of St. Petersburg. We met Olga Mikhailovskaya and Evgenia Filippova… They gave me the opportunity to participate in this collaboration together with other designers. We were by no means limited in ideas, but at the same time they were very keen to help.
In St. Petersburg, we studied the archives, attended lectures, and were inspired by the exhibition. I remember how on the first day I went to the museum, where I noticed the costume of one of the Sami tribes. It was a military suit, protective and deaf. It consisted of wooden planks that overlapped each other, as if they were layered. It resulted in a shell through which you seemed incapable of breaking through. This suit was before my eyes, and that’s it. For some reason, I was obsessed with it, even though there were many other beautiful exhibits around. These tables were still so polished: from time, from the north wind, from salt, from water. They were so soft that even the sound of their movement was visualized in me.
I took this element as a base and called the collection “Layers”. I looked everywhere for these layers: cultures, times, traditions, people. In nature there are the same stratifications, where one penetrates another. The result is a collection of padded, oversized garments, with prints that refer to things from a grandmother’s trunk.
This collaboration has become a milestone for my brand. Through him, I met a wide audience.
– Did you have other similar projects?
– Recently, I had another collaboration with Yelets laces. This is a special VOZ project that will be published in a special print issue of the magazine on May 20.
Interaction with young designers helps popular crafts like Yelets lace to integrate into modernity, make people interested and show a slightly different look at these things. Designers can make it part of their way of thinking and their clothes.
– You participated in the Moscow Fashion Week. What are your impressions of this program?
– This is my second market at Moscow Fashion Week. For the first time, I received great feedback from buyers.
For me this is an opportunity to showcase my brand, meet a live audience, chat, talk about myself and my collections.
People who first get familiar with my clothes in the market, through communication with me, can understand and feel my ideas, find out what I convey, touch and feel things, and buy. This, of course, is the most ideal option when acquaintance ends with a purchase! But communication is also very important. Inspire and give strength to keep going.
So the experience is the best. If I have the opportunity, I will definitely take part in all subsequent projects of the Moscow Fashion Week.
– How can events like Moscow Fashion Week help young Russian designers?
– This is one of the largest, most significant, global and valuable events taking place in the Russian fashion industry. Without it, there will be no development! This is an opportunity for designers to introduce themselves. The first opportunity to show my collection on the site of the Moscow Fashion Week was a pleasure and a big surprise for me.
It’s very important! I wish the entire team, which is participating in the Moscow Fashion Week, strength, energy, not to give up and not give up. Behind you there are many people who count and wait for you.
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