Katya is wearing:
Yellow coat by Natalia Kolykhalova StudioNK - http://studionk.ru/
Silk dress by Alina Assi - http://www.alinaassi.ru/
Grey bolero by Natasha Drigant - http://drigant.com/
Blue bag and matching bracelet by - Oksana Shapova, Lavrent - http://shapogo.livejournal.com/
As promised, the second interview from my trip to Moscow. For my second interview, I really wanted someone who knows and understands Russian fashion and was prepared to share some of their personal style with us.
In the last couple of years the term 'fashion journalist' has mutated and can be used to describe anyone from bona fide fashion critic, to blogger, to fashionista who does not do much in life but needs to feel accomplished.
Ekaterina Tsarkova (Katya) is a fashion journalist in a real, traditional sense of the word. She writes, she criticises, she is opinionated, she can make her audience angry and all of those things make her good at what she does.
Currently Katya writes for her own project - fashionnolimit.com, as well as a number of paper and online publications including millertonight.com and women-ru.ru.
I came across Katya's blog through an article about her on one of the Russian web-sites and straight away her blog struck me as punchy, to the point and as having a distinct lack of sugarcoating. To put it in perspective for my non-Russian readers, the way the fashion industry works in Russia can often be quite primitive. For example, it is not unusual that a "constructive criticism" in reviews can lead to some closed doors and withdrawals of invitations to shows that you would otherwise be welcome at. In that sense, anyone who wants to be a fashion critic better grow some thick skin as honest opinions are not always welcome.
Katya is honest. Consequently, she has had a few doors slammed in her face but she refuses to compromise her journalistic integrity and pushes on. I honestly believe that it is through people like Katya that the change from "primitive" to "real" can actually take place in the fashion industry in Russia.
I was very pleased that Katya agreed to do an interview with me because her main focus is on Russian designers and she has a great understanding of where the Russian fashion industry is heading. Why do I care? I guess because I know that there are people in Russia who know what they are talking about when it comes to fashion but often they get lost in the herd of euro-trash loving masses. And whilst the industry is very much in its infancy, from what I saw at Volvo Fashion Week, there is a new breed of talented designers that are trying to find their feet and survive in this tough and ever-changing environment.
State of Sunday (SoS): How did you get interested in fashion?
Katya: My dad used to produce a TV show about fashion back in the 90's and I used follow him around and remember being fascinated by it all. Originally I wanted to be a fashion designer and even studied fashion and textile at university. As part of my studies I wrote a research essay about Dolce & Gabbana. I found the topic quite interesting and really wanted to share my work with a wider audience. This was back in 2003 when the concept of blogging did not exist in Russia so I set up a website to share my thoughts on fashion and start a dialogue with my readers. My aim was to show fashion as accessible and understandable as opposed to elitist and accessible to only the privileged few.
SoS: Do you prefer Russian designers to foreign ones?
Katya: I do not separate designers into 'foreign' or 'russian'. Style is style and if something looks appealing to the eye and I like it, I do not care where the designer is from - it is the final product that matters. Although, when it comes to writing about them, I do like working with Russian designers as they are more accessible (for obvious reasons) and I can actually interview them and get to know their work.
SoS: Who are your favourite Russian designers?
Katya: I like Lena Vasilieva. Although I found her last collection a bit too safe and lacking designer's signature, I think she is talented and educated - she knows a lot about techniques, fabrics and a she adopts interesting concepts. For instance, she is familiar with some amazing hand-making techniques. The trouble is, she does not use a lot of those techniques in her collections as she seems to be torn between making sellable clothes and making unique clothes. Other designers that I like are Natasha Drigant, Oleg Birykov and Kirill Gasilin.
SoS: What do you have to say about the state of the fashion industry in Russia at the moment?
Katya: Unfortunately, I do not think the industry is developing as much as it should, if at all! There is currently no support from the Government. We do not have a body similar to the British Fashion Council who would provide that much needed support and representation. Also, the mentality needs to change. Currently Russian designers are too expensive which is not justified as there is no brand loyalty and consumers have not been trained to buy Russian brands.
SoS: So what do you think needs to change?
Katya: I think the designers need to be more open to working with the press and the media, although we have seen a significant improvement in this area in the last couple of years. Also, the designers should be more open to constructive criticism as that is the way to grow and develop. I think designers compromise their creativity by concentrating too much on seeking approval from their audiences.
SoS: Who are your favourite foreign designers?
Katya: John Galliano and Jean Paul Gaultier for inspiration, Donna Karan for practicality. I also quite like Haider Ackermann.
SoS: How do you feel about the recent Galliano incident?
Katya: I feel sorry for him and it is a shame but by the same token as a public figure he should have been more careful with his choice of words. I also think there is an element of someone trying to benefit from all the publicity surrounding the incident.
SoS: What Russian magazines do you like?
Katya: L'Officiel and Harper's Bazaar are probably my favourite fashion glossies at the moment.
SoS: What would be your ideal career path?
Katya: [laughing] editor-in-chief of course!