Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Catwalk Review: David Koma

LFW David Koma Maria del Carmen Smith
David Koma by Maria del Carmen Smith.

Last Monday’s shows opened with a double whammy from David Koma and Holly Fulton, illness which I shall review in separate blogs.

LFW David Koma by Maria del Carmen Smith
David Koma by Maria del Carmen Smith.

We wrote about David Koma as far back as his longer named incarnation when he graduated from his Central Saint Martins BA way back in 2007. His rise in popularity since then has been unstoppable, clothing many high profile celebrities including modern day sweetheart Cheryl Cole – in a heavily embellished dress for the X Factor. It was an instant talking point.

His modern take on glamour owes much to an eclectic life, equally split between three countries where David has spent appreciable amounts of time and of which this 24 year old regards himself as equal citizen. He was born and spent his early years in Georgia before moving to St Petersburg to study classical drawing (and which is where he presumably met his Russian wife). He then relocated again to the UK, where he studied at Saint Martins under the expert tutelage of Louise Wilson, who he idolises.

LFW David Koma by Maria del Carmen Smith
David Koma by Maria del Carmen Smith.

For S/S 2011 his collection was inspired by The Mariinsky Theatre of Saint Petersburg, and memories of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. A series of pleated skater dresses in sugary colours moved swiftly through abstract monochrome tailoring, shades of lemony yellow and onto gold party pieces, all accessorised by sky high platforms and big metal knuckledusters courtesy of a collaboration with Mawi.

David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
All photography by Amelia Gregory.

In official parlance this translates pretty much thus: Ballet silhouettes were combined with the more graphic shapes of cubist artist Fernand Leger to explore contradictions of fragility with physical and emotional strength.

David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
One cleverly cut dress even had me fooled that a model’s waist could be smaller than seems physically possible: I did an instant double take when I looked back at this photo.

David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory

I loved this collection, so was a bit discombobulated when I discovered that David had used copious python skin in his show. Where does python come from? Were they caught in the wild or farmed? It’s not an industry I know much about, so when I ran into David at his New Gen stand I decided to give him a bit of a grilling.

David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory

A quick question turned into a half an hour chat during which David was utterly charming the entire time. He’s determinedly upbeat about life and feels blessed to do what he loves the most; his precocious rise surely the result of much hard work as well as obvious talent.

David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory

So, back to that python skin. It comes from an accredited factory farm – for pythons and crocodiles are farmed much as mink is. I feel quite uncomfortable about this – I am okay with the use of leather for outer clothing and shoes, safe in the knowledge that it is very much the waste product of a meat industry that is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon.

Somerset House SS2011 David Koma
David Koma at Somerset House.

But I don’t buy into the idea that it’s ethically okay to farm animals purely to provide us with luxury goods – and no matter how accredited a farm might be on paper there are always going to be corners cut in reality on the factory floor. David’s take on it is that he is against fast consumerism, and therefore wants to create luxury garments that will be treasured for a long time. For this to be possible he wants to chose the best possible materials available – and if that means stripping a snake then so be it – that they will live on in a beautiful garment is enough for him. And he does not feel that fake fur or leather is a particularly ethical substitute, a fact with which I tend to agree. Another fair point he makes is that he would rather buy from a reputable farm than encourage any kind of black market. But this surely begs the question, how is a black market encouraged – except by the use of python leather in luxury must-have items? If you are able to remove questions of provenance from your mind all that gold python is very very beautiful.

David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
Knuckledusters from Mawi.

David also admitted that he is considering the use of fur in his next collection, but as we parted he said I had made him think a bit more about this. Whether my words have had any effect remains to be seen but I really appreciate that he didn’t balk under my questioning and seems genuinely to be interested in engaging in the origin of his materials: he’s a very talented and increasingly influential designer and I hope he’ll make educated decisions in the future. In the meantime enjoy our pictures… and forget about any real live snakes in cages if you can.

David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
David Koma SS2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
David Koma Gold Python on White By Fiona M Chapelle
David Koma “Gold Python on White” by Fiona M Chapelle.

Categories ,ballet, ,Central Saint Martins, ,Cheryl Cole, ,David Koma, ,Fernand Leger, ,Fiona M Chapelle, ,Fur, ,georgia, ,lfw, ,London Fashion Week, ,Louise Wilson, ,Maria del Carmen Smith, ,Mawi, ,New Gen, ,Python skin, ,Russia!, ,Somerset House, ,St Petersburg, ,Swan Lake, ,The Mariinsky Theatre, ,X Factor

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Amelia’s Magazine | An Interview with Ukrainian Illustrator Daria Hlazatova

Daria Hlazatova - Oceania
Daria Hlazatova – Oceania.

Ukrainian illustrator Daria Hlazatova has been creating stunning illustrations for Amelia’s Magazine for several years now. I caught up with her to find out about her latest projects and how important social media has been to building her career. She’s an inspiration!

Daria Hlazatova - tom riddle
Tom Riddle.

Tell us about your home town near the Carpathian mountains in Ukraine. Where would you take a visitor from the UK?
I’d give them a tour of our town, Chernivtsi, which is, in fact quite nice and boasts a mix of European architectural styles, historically having been under the rule of different countries. A trip to the restaurant serving our national cuisine will be a good idea, too, as it is a somewhat unusual experience for tourists, but nevertheless delicious: everyone enjoys our pancakes with red caviar! We’d also take a trip to the mountains to pick up some berries and enjoy the views.

Canterville ghost
Canterville ghost.

What kind of art do your relatives make and how has it inspired your own creations?
There are artists both on my mother’s and my father’s side, so I think it was natural for me to become interested in drawing in my early years. My mother’s uncle Volodya used to be a rather well-known book illustrator in St Petersburg and I still have some of his signed books, one of which is called Dashenka, which is a diminutive of my name. And although the story wasn’t about me, I took it as a sign that I, too, must try myself at illustrating books. My father’s relatives are mostly landscape artists, living and working in Russia.

Daria Hlazatova - Dog Days are Over
Dog Days are Over.

You are an active part of the creative social media community – when did you discover the online world and how has it affected your art making over the years?
I think the same time as I was lucky enough to have discovered Amelia’s Magazine which was in the autumn of 2010. Being based so far away from all the exciting  art events and virtually having no connection with other creatives, I decided to use the Internet resources to mend this injustice. Since then I have found it extremely helpful, with online blogs and networks serving me as a magic portal into the art world.

Daria Hlazatova -Harold Pinter
Harold Pinter.

Why is your blog titled All Pencils of Mine are Sugarplums?
It has to do with my love for Lewis Carroll. The title is based on one of his syllogisms (which are logic arguments). I will say no more, because whenever I start talking about Carroll or syllogisms, I confuse everyone… rather like I do with the title of my blog!

Daria Hlazatova Ravel

What can people find on your blog?
Lots of drawings, random thoughts, news about shows and interesting projects. I sometimes share art and music that inspire me. I sincerely hope that upon visiting my blog, readers have a sudden urge to create something, read  a fairy-tale, dream,  bake cakes, or just dance,  in short do something fun and artistic.

Daria Hlazatova robert smith by daria h
Robert Smith.

You are a self taught artist – where have you picked up your style and techniques from?
I don’t know. I think my style has been developing of its own accord and I only mildly control it. I do have an obsession with some elements, like eyes, stars and moons that I include in almost every work of mine, but then again, I do that subconsciously most of the time. I can only guess why I intertwine eyes into the patterns and use them as central objects and it’s perhaps because the Russian word “eye” is the root of my surname.

What inspired you to create a zine and who do you hope will read it?
A long-awaited holiday! I have 2 part-time jobs (one of them is no longer part-time) besides being a full-time illustrator. I’ve been looking for this winter break since my last holiday in summer and wanted to make something special. Besides, I’ve often heard from people they’d like me to make a zine or a little book, so I thought I’d give it a try. It all happened unexpectedly quickly and in a blink the zine was ready. I had to look through the notebooks back from my university days, where I scribbled some nonsense poems and stories to pass the time during dull lectures and also had crazy ideas contributed by some lovely enthusiasts. I hope everybody who appreciates a little nonsense  now and then will enjoy Nosorog.

Pati Yang by Daria Hlazatova.
Pati Yang for Amelia’s Magazine.

What does Nosorog mean and what does the zine contain?
Nosorog from Russian means “rhinoceros”. There’s no point denying it: I chose the name for no reason at all. This was the first word that came to me. The zine contains several short-stories, some quotes, a horoscope, mock advertisements and an interview, accompanied by my old and new illustrations. The content has been inspired by the works of Mervyn Peake and Edward Gorey and by fairy-tales in general. I was very surprised but also happy to see that the first issues sold so quickly. I’m printing more and already working on the second one, which will have more stories, exclusively-created illustrations and will hopefully make you smile!

Where can people get hold of a copy?
I don’t have a proper shop elsewhere except for the one on my blog. And if anyone wants a freshly-printed Nosorog, the best thing to do is to email me.
Moth rah girl phoenix EP group Daria h
Daria Hlazatova -girl phoenix EP cover for Moth Rah
Girl phoenix EP cover for Moth Rah.

Can you tell us about your upcoming show in Kiev?
It will take place in a mysteriously beautiful place, which is the building of an old opera house. From the outside it looks like a gingerbread house, on the inside it’s a perfect setting for a Georges Melies film. I fell in love with this place at once. The space itself, called Kiev Loft,  is used for concerts, performances, and art events and run by a rather enthusiastic and professional young team who as far as I can see are eager to help the art life in our capital thrive and prosper, which is great. My drawings will be exhibited there along with the beautiful and very curious works by the Lithography studio “30” based in Kiev. It will be my first show in Ukraine, so wish me luck!  

Frankie Rose for Amelia’s Magazine.

You’ve been doing some personal work inspired by Johnny Flynn, how did you discover his music and what touches you about it?
I first heard of Johnny after seeing the play Jerusalem. I didn’t know he was also a songwriter and after hearing his music, something clicked. You know, there are some periods in life when a certain melody is needed to help you carry on and Johnny Flynn’s songs turned out exactly that thing. I felt the connection because his music is very poetic and not simply folk, it’s more than that. I can see the influence of theatre, nature, even Shakespeare, and all things I like in his songs and that’s why I thought I should explore a bit more both in the music and in myself by creating some illustrations to accompany his songs.

Daria Hlazatova tonight

Have you got anything else in the pipeline you can tell us about?
Lots! Mostly the plan is just to draw. And if that doesn’t work, plan B is to draw some more again.

What do you hope for your art in the coming years?
I’d love to have a show in Italy and before that I hope to work on larger scale drawings and do some music-related artwork. If you ask me, an art studio (preferably with a fitted kitchen, a helpful assistant and a husky dog)  is my pipe-dream.  Shall I use a quotation to appear exceptionally well-read? Shakespeare said and I completely agree with him, that expectation is the root of all heartache, that’s why I never expect,  but I’m ready for surprises. I’m very happy doing what I do at this very moment.

Find Daria Hlazatova online: read her blog, friend her on facebook and follow her on twitter.

Categories ,30, ,All Pencils of Mine are Sugarplums, ,Canterville ghost, ,Carpathian, ,Chernivtsi, ,Daria H, ,Daria Hlazatova, ,Dashenka, ,Dog Days are Over, ,Edward Gorey, ,Frankie Rose, ,Georges Melies, ,Harold Pinter, ,illustrator, ,interview, ,Jerusalem, ,Johnny Flynn, ,Kiev, ,Kiev Loft, ,Lewis Carroll, ,Mervyn Peake, ,Moth Rah, ,Nosorog, ,Oceania, ,Pati Yang, ,Ravel, ,Rhinoceros, ,Robert Smith, ,Shakespeare, ,St Petersburg, ,Syllogisms, ,Tom Riddle, ,Tonight, ,Ukraine, ,Ukrainian, ,Volodya

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