Designer Masha Andrianova graduated from the Parisian high school of fashion, which does not prevent her from being among the main researchers of the traditions of Russian folk costume. Andrianova carefully studies the shape and structure of things in order to create surprisingly modern garments on their basis. Moreover, each collection is a complex system dedicated either to St. Petersburg communal apartments or to distant abandoned villages. We talked with the designer and asked how her passion for Russian style began and how she plans to develop.
TEXT: Svetlana Paderina
My childhood was spent between three countries: France, Belgium and Russia. I rarely saw Russia, I lived in Belgium for five years, and grew up in France. The diplomat dad always listened to French music - Serge Gainsbourg, Jeanne Mas, Marie Laforêt - this was the first thing that I fell in love with. My mom is an artist. She also worked in the embassy in various positions, but her outlet was drawing, buying canvases, paints and albums. This year her first exhibition was held in Paris. Leafing through her albums with drawings, I also dreamed of learning this way. Mom always tries new things, is interested in everything. She always invites to exhibitions and can tell a lot of interesting things about paintings and various techniques.
When I was little, I loved to tinker with something, invent something. She “built” a computer out of paper, drew fictional cities, sewed muffs and backpacks with her hands. And she loved to dress up. True, there were difficulties with a sense of taste and measure. I found bags with old clothes at the dacha and in this form I walked along the street - the neighbors even made comments to my mother. At the age of nine, I decided that I would be a fashion designer. She filled albums with drawings of her future collections.
At the age of fourteen, I forgot this dream: I became very interested in music, studied singing, played the guitar and tried to write songs. I wanted to enter GITIS at the pop faculty. I went to courses, but I felt out of place, as if this place was not my place. To entertain myself, I began to make collages from glossy magazines, pasting paper dresses, bags, shoes on A4 sheets. Once I showed these works to my aunt, and she asked if I wanted to become a stylist. And literally a few months later my mother asked me about the same. Then I seriously got the idea of going to a fashion school: it came out so naturally, as if this was the way it should have been.
I entered the high school of fashion in Paris, at Atelier Chardon Savard, remembered my old dream to be a fashion designer and was very surprised by this. How could I forget this? At school, we were taught more about revealing individuality than about sewing and designing. Having received my diploma, I realized that I had never learned to sew, so I decided to go to the magistracy - the best students are selected there. This is one class "Fashion Designer", divided into two subclasses: there is knitted design, in which students make collections on knitting machines, and there is work with fabric. I studied in the second. Here we had to create our own brand: with collection, packaging, tags. We were immediately told that the teachers were our assistants, so no one was going to teach us how to sew and make patterns. But we had a plan: we had to sew two things a week. And with our own efforts, including intuition, we made collections. The final was the presentation and defense of works in front of famous designers and buyers.
This is how I work to this day - intuition is everything for me. Although over the years experience and knowledge of the rules have appeared. When I was in school, I went to second-hand shops, dressed there. I turned my clothes inside out to see how they were sewn. Sometimes I unstuck things in order to better understand the technology and design. The first patterns were also made from ripped things.I put them on paper, redrawn, changed, added something of my own - this is how my patterns turned out. Later, when I was already sewing for my brand, I wanted to know the rules for constructing patterns. I bought the book and made several variations according to the methodology suggested in the book, but this quickly bored me - and I returned to the intuitive construction. Now I can open that very book to see how it should be, because some things cannot be built on intuition alone - it is important to know the rules so as not to reinvent the wheel.
Even during my studies, I began to get involved in Russian village grandmothers. My whole moodboard was covered with them. Living in France and coming to Russia for a short vacation, I did not know my country at all. I did not feel any involvement in her, did not feel love. I did not think about her, I believed that I would live my whole life in France. But one day my grandfather began to show family photographs, talk about ancestors. I was very carried away by this - I was wondering where I came from. It seemed to me that it was something mine, something warm, something that protects and exists somewhere inside me, but I forgot it. I began to watch Soviet classic films and visit Moscow more often. I fell in love with speaking and reading Russian. It all ended with a move from Paris to Moscow.
After graduating from school and working as a stylist in major Parisian and Milan magazines, I decided to lock myself in my room and sew. A Russian village appeared on the mood board again, but without grandmothers, but with residents of the late 19th - early 20th centuries. I went through old photographs of my great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers, drew a family tree. The first collection was about the village and its inhabitants, ordinary working peasants. There were many things in it that would be difficult to wear in life. I worked more like a stylist, "painted" with fabric on the body. The collection included both women's and men's items. The second collection was about communal apartments. Then I began to pay more attention to the body and the comfort of the clothes. I endlessly watched Soviet films and was inspired by the photographs of Françoise Hugier, her series with St. Petersburg communal apartments. Sewed "robes" in a flower and more strict black dresses and skirts.
After moving from Paris to Moscow, I got access to the books and museums I needed - I saw traditional costumes and their embroidery. I wanted to repeat it all, to feel it. This is how the third collection was formed, which contains such important details of the Russian costume as a shirt, a sundress and a warmth. I started to embroider and pleat the fabric. I can't say that all my work is just a Russian costume. My work is all Russian. What I do from the heart. Through clothes I search for myself, I remember my ancestors. I am studying antique costume, but I am not a reenactor. I'm a designer. I come up with modern clothes, inspired by existing things.
I study the Russian style through museums. The first museum I visited in Moscow was DPI. But the most interesting collection is in St. Petersburg in the Ethnographic Museum. Unfortunately, there are not so many books, but there are very beautiful and informative ones, for example, the work of Fyodor Parmon describing the construction of things and "Russian folk costume" by Louisa Efimova. I try to travel around Russia, to meet with villagers who always have one or two things. I collect antique Russian shirts. They are all handcrafted from homespun linen and nettle. They have beautiful embroideries and wise hand seams, which are sometimes difficult to repeat: each craftswoman had her own secrets that were passed down from generation to generation. And, of course, I am looking for information on the Internet: photographs, articles, ethnographic research.
Last year I was lucky to visit Karelia and the Arkhangelsk region. Most memorable was the village of Nyukhcha, which is located eight kilometers from the White Sea. The village is inaccessible. We traveled by train from Belomorsk, and then another few kilometers by car. It has been preserved as it was a hundred years ago.True, there are many abandoned houses and few residents. The village is located on a river with wooden houses on each side. Until now, people adhere to old technologies in buildings and prefer wood. As if you find yourself in another world, in another time. There is a museum in Nyukhche. It is located in an old two-storey house of traditional Pomor construction and was restored by the efforts of the residents themselves. It's called "Trash Barn". The main person of the museum, Nadezhda Semyonova, collected old things from the neighborhood: spinning wheels, clothes, embroidery. She can tell the story of each exhibit.
I also visited Pinega in the village of Karpogory. This village has changed over the years. Once upon a time in Soviet times, it was a city. Therefore, along with large wooden northern houses, there are stone buildings. I talked to the locals, and they started showing me shirts, soul warmers and embroideries from their chests. They love these things and value them, this is their property, the heritage of their ancestors. In the village they showed me the looms, explained different weaving technologies. In Karpogory I learned what it is weaving, in Karelia they showed me old pull embroidery.
I continue to sew my own collections, at the same time carry out individual orders and sometimes do separate things. Collections are easier to work with: they have a certainty, a system. Each collection tells its own story. In Russia there is a problem with textiles, it is not at all easy to find a good quality fabric. You have to go to Europe, there is more choice. I only work with natural fabrics, there are several places in Moscow where I buy them, but the best materials I still bring from Paris. You can find old homespun in Russia. It is sold in rolls and is usually small in width, the size of a loom. In the composition - linen, nettle, cotton. Once I bought a roll of old flax, I still work with it. Dreaming of a roll of homespun nettles. Old ribbons and laces that my acquaintances bring me or I find on flea wounds are still lying and waiting in the wings.
My buyers are different, but they are all creative people who know how to appreciate the new, remembering the old. Most often they come from Instagram and very quickly end up in my workshop. Customers can buy finished products - which are most often made in one copy and in one size. But there are clients who order things according to their own measurements. We discuss together what the customer wants, I advise something. But I only work with things that interest me most. There are customers who completely trust me and simply say: "Masha, I want a jumpsuit." I sew, and they come to quickly try on and pick up.
I know several designers who work in Russian style: Infundibulum, fy: r clothes. I really respect what Johann Nikadimus is doing. He reconstructs headdresses - kokoshniks, crowns - according to old technologies. My dream is to photograph my things with his kokoshniks.
Now I am sewing a new collection. This is a long process, because at the same time I am working on orders and on a new project. There will be embroideries in the collection, they also take a lot of time. But I hope to be finished by the New Year. My new project is the second collection to be made in size range. In this work, a designer helps me, and I will give the print run to sew for production. For me, this is something new, since I have always done everything myself, but here I delegate. I want to make this line more affordable so that people have the opportunity to dress more interestingly and with a bit of Russian in their looks. And also my old dream is to do ceramics, make textured and at the same time simple dishes.