In her new couture collection presented during the haute couture fashion week in the French capital, Yulia Yanina continues to sing the beauty of love and femininity. Fabulous birds: peacock, firebird and phoenix, inspired the designer to create magical outfits of the fall-winter 2016-2017 season. Yulia approached the topic not only from a creative side, but also from a scientific one. She studied the impact of colors on ourselves and used in her collection hues that attract good luck, harmony, love and protection – all that is a modern woman needs to be happy.
Apart from her famous evening gowns, the designer traditionally presented several black and white looks, which are ideal for business meetings, as well as for social events.
We met Yulia the day after the show in a luxurious “hotel particulier” – the residence of the Russian ambassador in the heart of the seventh district of Paris. The conversation turned easy and friendly pleasant. We are keen to share with our readers a positive charge of energy radiated by our interlocutor.
1. How did you get into fashion, created your own brand and joined the fashion Olympus of Parisian haute couture?
I like to begin any interview with a confession that I have always been and still am a dreamer. This helps me in many situations, and this is how it all actually started. My story is very common: as a child I loved to dress up dolls and did not want to blend with the crowd. That is why, even in Soviet times, I tried to create my own school uniform, to express myself differently. And if you are an imaginer, then people start to follow you. Someone copies, others want the same dress as yours. There was no turning point in my life when I decided what to become – I have dreamed of being a modiste since childhood. This word is now, for some reason, rarely used – a pity, to me it seems so deep and warm.
It all came in stages: art school, a college. I am convinced that if you pretend to tell something new to the world, you must begin with yourself. To lead people, you must first learn the craft from the basics, as I did, having mastered all stages of tailor’s art. Those skills have helped me incredibly in creating my own team, which at the beginning was very small – only 4 persons – and gradually grew to become the Fashion House Yulia Yanina.
I am from the Saratov town. This is where I started and then moved to Moscow with the family. The most significant step – the creation of my own brand – I did it in Moscow in 1993.
With the Couture we have very special relations: from the beginning, despite the fact that we were still small, we had occupied this niche, declaring ourselves as a couture house. Even before 1993 in Saratov our small company was engaged in couture products, so we have never had transitions from a prêt-à-porter to couture. On the contrary, today, winning the respect and reputation in the fashion world and having created a serious brand, engaged in the art of haute couture, we think to expand our line to give more people the opportunity to buy our products and embrace our style and mood.
We’ve already presented five prêt-à-porter shows, and everything is going very well! We were presented on Moda Operandi (an online store specializing in selling designer clothes, shoes and accessories from collections of the next season; its ideology easily fits into a capacious motto coined by the founder of Moda Operandi: “Buying the fashion of the future today”; at the end of last year Moda Operandi headed the list of the top 50 online stores according to The Times) – this is a good step towards the international market. In this regard the couture house, as an icebreaker, clears the way for commercial ready-to-wear.
Couture is our soul, it is a close circle of our valued customers, on which our fashion house stands, this is our customers who allow us to grow, to improve, to move on.
2. The process of creating a collection, what is its starting point? Do the world’s fashion trends influence your creativity?
Ideas are, as we say, already in the air – you may have often noticed that many collections of different brands overlap, without being in any way plagiarized.
With experience comes intuition, you start feeling ahead of the time and speak out boldly, creating a mass trend. It’s like a dream, a goal to which you aspire. The customers who start to dream seeing the collection. I am very pleased to see how they evolve. For example, at the first meeting with a client I like to offer her a formal classic suit, helping to immediately assess the art of a cut, a fit, a quality of work to make her feel secure going out.
We have also been known for our evening gowns that allow our clients to collect compliments at social events in large quantities. Here our favorite client Olga (a slender beauty with delicate features joins our conversation being distracted from trying on Yulia’s dresses), for example, is getting ready for a ball given tonight by Natalia Vodianova (a charity event ‘’Love Ball’’ by the Naked Heart Foundation).
Olga: I would like to mention the incredible success that I had at the annual dinner in New York, organized by the Explorers Club. I was in a green dress by Yulia (“Meadows of Russia”). The dress code of the event was a version of an evening black tie, or a national costume. Some guests arrived in very extravagant toilets. I was approached by 80% of those present to learn the origin of my dress. In whole, created a furor!
3. Tastes in Russia and abroad are not the same, women dress differently. You, based in Moscow and dressing Russian clients, also conquered the West, and world celebrities show up in your luxurious outfits. How did you manage to find a compromise?
You know, the secret, probably, is that I was not looking for a compromise. The turning point in my mind happened when we showed our creations at Alta Moda – the couture week in Rome. For our house it was the first feeling of triumph. Surprisingly in Russia you are well perceived once you are already victorious abroad. In Russia itself, at that moment, we were working “behind the scenes”: we were known, but in a rather narrow circles. In Rome we felt the public recognition the first time and thanks to the feedback, which we received from press and fans, we had finally felt our status. We suddenly switched to a higher rank. We were treated like stars, and for me as a designer it was very pleasant and new.
At a press conference journalists asked me what distinguishes Russian women from the Italian. It was kind of a discovery to me that there is no difference, because the essence is the same. The truth is that the world is motivated by love and beauty. And all women, regardless of their nationality, want the same thing – to be loved. We work to make a woman feel loved, confident, flawless and carry beauty to the world.
Getting to our last collection: why is it fairy? Because we have a mission, to which we approach very seriously, and this mission is to bring the beauty to the people, to make women happy.
4. What are your sources of inspiration? Do you have muses, women who inspire you, for whom you create?
In the beginning I spent an incredible amount of time in libraries, studying archives, especially techniques of embroidery. And I still visit them from time to time. But with experience comes the feeling, perhaps even from “above”, and you know exactly what the next collection will be like.
I deeply love the nature. Traditions play a very important role for me: family, home, love, friends. I do not want to get tough because everything is changing around. My team helps me a lot in this. We have a big team in our Fashion House, but many of us are there from day one. Although some of them are already senior, we do not have a right to get old because we give women a belief that there is no age. We already dress three generations of clients. So my sources of inspiration are, above all, people.
Once I was making a floral collection, and I even did not have to make an effort: just laying by the pool, surrounded by flowers and trees, I drew all that. I called the dresses accordingly: a stone pine, a flowerbed, a flower. Italy inspires me a lot with its magnificent landscapes.
In the last collection, I turned to a profound subject with great meaning. This is a theme of charms, symbols, the Bird of Happiness, the search for one and how it looks. Whether it is an incredibly beautiful peacock – a noble bird of peace, success and happiness. Or a Firebird carrying emotions, passion and love. On every item in the collection we have depicted a bird-mascot for a woman. In this way we protect her: somewhere you can trace a wing, somewhere a peacock’s eye, or even an entire bird. In addition, we actively use the game of color. Immersing in the study of color meanings, we learned that a woman can very finely adjust the situation. For example, if she goes on a date, it is preferable to wear pink – the color of love and tenderness. For business meetings perfectly fits black, because it does not distract, blocks emotions and protects at the same time. Red is a feminine energy. In the collection we have got a “dress of passion” in which we have used all the colors needed for woman’s happiness: blue, pink, gold, red, orange.
5. What is Haute couture for you? What is its substantial difference with prêt-à-porter?
For me Haute couture is a dream. To give a dream is a great mission, because we make it possible, we translate it into reality. Therefore, in the history of our house there are many happy couples and encounters, we are very close to our customers. By giving, we also get a lot. I definitely believe in haute couture as a magic tool, through which we can create our destiny.
I do not share the point of view of inaccessibility of Haute Couture items. In my opinion, we all come into this world with equal positions, from the same start. It all depends on boldness of your flight: you either dare to conquer the world or not. For the later there is no point to moan. The difference is in the level of responsibility. People who achieve great success in business, are those who are not afraid to take it on themselves. Nothing ever gets easy. Behind all that beauty is a lot of work, sometimes bordering on self-sacrifice.
6. Russian embroidery techniques is your business card. Tell us where and how do you find craftsmen, though it is no secret that many of traditional Russian sewing crafts are lost.
We try to study ancient paintings and techniques. We have a huge team of embroiderers, around 25 people. These girls are rare like pearls for a precious necklace. We picked them up throughout the country and we are proud of them.
We have mastered all: satin stitching, applique, embroidery, beads, feathers, Richelieu laces. I’m incredibly pleased that my team is a continuation of me, of my creative and artistic ideas. These are the people who perfectly feel me, whom I can fully trust, including appointments and customer services in my absence. This is a huge achievement.
7. How are things going in fashion industry in Russia? Five years ago it was more a “get-together” than a business. Has something changed since then?
To begin with, I should say that I am deeply patriotic and see a huge number of talented designers in Russia. The collections are varied, there are a lot of interesting and original ideas. I’m even happy to notice that many European houses pick them up.
But there is a feeling that there is no need for designers and fashion houses in our country, no pride in achievements of both young and experienced designers. Feeling of abandon. It is only after a victory here (abroad), we receive an acknowledgment. And it’s not just fashion but also, for example, artists, who become famous in their homeland only after having received recognition in Europe.
I believe in Russian fashion, in its originality. In our collections there is more soul, they are more emotional, through, felt and meant for people. Not so abstract, as some European ones, which border with “pieces of art”. This is what makes us different from western designers. Our fashion house’s creations, despite their artistry, are wearable. On the other hand our dresses are timeless, in which you will never look old fashioned, even if it is an archive outfit of a decade ago.
8. How important is the commercial part of Couture?
The question of investments has, like a medal, two sides: when you take money, you must clearly understand what you want to do with it. Because the lack of money is, of course, bad, but on the other hand it’s an incentive to evolve in order to earn them. That is why young designers before trying to claim a fame must go all the way of an artisan and know how to create things that want to sell.
Twice yearly, starting from 1993 – the year when we found our Fashion House- we present our couture collections in Moscow. At the beginning the question of whether we should archive or not our dresses, did not exist: we just could not afford it. Collections were sold, and thus we were able to continue. Strengthening and developing our skills, because you can only learn in practice. At the same you need to earn. After all, behind a beautiful couture picture is the team that creates it. This team needs to be paid. It’s a question of responsibility.
To be competitive in the global market, you must also fit into the international calendar frames. By the time of presenting a collection, I already know what will be next one!
9. What would you advice to young designers wishing to conquer Paris?
Unfortunately, I cannot say that this is an easy path. One needs to tune into serious work. Without a support of a patron and partners, it is incredibly difficult. We have a family business, without investors. Thus, we extend the road to success, but at the same time we create our own history – a necessary part of any couture house.
It is important to be deeply in love: both with the profession and with people, only this way one can withstand this incredibly complex, but still interesting journey.