One of the most professional and highly expected presentations of Russian Fashion Week came from young but already-famous designer Alyona Akhmadullina. Despite her age, she has already won a grand prize at the Admiralteiskaya Igla 2000 contest of young designers in St. Petersburg; a dress from her Drakon Idyot! (The Dragon Comes!) collection has been recognized as Dress of the Year 2000 in Moscow; she represented Russia at the Mittelmoda 2000 contest in Italy; she participated in the Grand Fashion Concepts 2000 contest in Switzerland; and she was in the young designers Russian Silhouette contest and won the Smirnoff International Design Award. Akhmadullina presented her Spring/Summer 2004 collection, Mustspring, which was inspired by Russian and Eastern folk tales, on Nov. 3 during Russian Fashion Week.
At the St. Petersburg University of Technology and Design, you created an avant-garde collection Drakon Idyot!, and, now, youre doing pret-a-porter. Where did the change come from?
Its quite obvious to me. As a student, you can only work with cheap materials. A student will never sew anything with expensive wool. Nobody will be interested, and no one will even pay attention to it. You should create something that will excite the jury at contests. For a student, there is nothing more important than winning a student contest, because it is one of the ways to show yourself. And only after that can you turn to making clothes for sale. Thats why I decided to follow the tradition. People who design outfits want to sell them. Otherwise, whats the point in doing it?
Do you agree with the statement "fancy clothes means expensive clothes"? Your clothes are not that cheap, you know!
Yes and no. Expensive clothes include all the elements of higher prices: High-quality design, high-quality PR, expensive materials, the best tailors and cutters. When all of these are of high quality, it cant be cheap. Correspondingly, it cant look bad. Every world brand is very careful about their marketing policy, which is why their clothes can only be fancy.
You said that your Mustspring collection was inspired by Russian and Eastern folk tales. I saw a "Star Wars" theme to it, the last two episodes especially
Really? Actually, I used a Russian folk theme as the basis of my collection. (Frankly, I havent even seen the last two "Star Wars" episodes.) People kept asking me to create something in the Russian style. I spent so much time studying the theme and got very excited. I noticed that Russian traditions basically come from the East the rising sun, the beginning of civilization, the beginning of the world. Thats where all these elements like large pants, winding waistbands and paddle jackets come from. "Star Wars"? I dont know. Designers should reflect trends in modern film and music. It all influences customers decisions. And the customer always picks what he thinks is optimal.
You have taken part in foreign fashion contests and seen your clothes in foreign boutiques. Whats the Western attitude to you? Did you receive any offers to stay and work there?
Im comfortable working here. Twice a year, we take part in the Paris showroom. They represent our alenaakhmadullina brand worldwide; they negotiate with boutiques, and we provide the needed quality clothes. At the moment, were about to affirm orders from boutiques that will sell our clothes, and I can already name you the countries: Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and America.;
Do you follow the trends?
I check information. I read magazines. Not to do something based on the latest trends, but just to be up-to-date on whats going on.
What collection at Russian Fashion Week impressed you the most?
As Four. It was the best collection of the week. Its new for Moscow. For New York, Paris and London, its common. As Fours presentation was outstanding, and their clothes will find buyers. The show was brilliant! I didnt watch Russian designers, because there were none I like and respect there: Nina Donis and Denis Simachev werent there.
Alyona, you are a fashion designer. Your husband Arkady Volk handles the organization. Together, you run the alenaakhmadullina brand. Isnt it hard?
Indeed! We wake up in the morning and instantly start discussing business. We go to bed at two in the morning and ask each other if we forgot to call anyone. Sometimes we want to fire each other. We fire each other once a month, as a rule. Yesterday, I tried to fire Arkady, and he didnt mind, he was even happy!