Lotta Volkova Label Relaunch

We speak to fashion designer and stylist Lotta Volkova on why she has turned to womenswear.

Text by Junsuke Yamasaki

Lotta Volkova was born in Vladivostok and moved to London where she studied art, photography and fashion at Central Saint Martins. She started her menswear label, Lotta Skeletrix in 2004 and it quickly become popular. She then went back to St Petersburg for few months and finally moved to Paris in 2007. She now works as a stylist for magazines such as Dazed & Confused Japan, Tokion and Harper's Bazaar Russia. Besides styling job, she has also decided to relaunch her own womenswear label, Lotta Volkova this spring. Here she speaks about her label and changing aesthetics.

When and why did you move to Paris?
Lotta Volkova: I moved to Paris in 2007 because I wanted to experience a different city and a different lifestyle. I love London but I felt it was a time for a change, for a new experience. I believe places are really important in our lives. They always affect us in some kind of way. I like Burgins idea that places are almost like people they have a life of their own but inevitably influence us, inevitably leave a trace in our memories, they have sentimental value. London is a crazy metropolis, it is full of information. It is a really mad city and in order to survive in it you have to have a mad lifestyle too. It never stops therefore forces you to keep going and being creative. I love this creative energy about London. Paris is very different, it has a different rhythm to it and therefore affects yours. Its much more quiet than London and gives you time to think and makes you look at things differently. I believe in order to make life exciting and worth living you have to be able to move on and be open to new surroundings, people and therefore create new stories.

Do you feel comfortable to live in Paris as a fashion designer?
Lotta Volkova: I find it to be a challenge. French fashion industry, even though, it is the oldest and therefore most developed is not very accommodated to young designers and young businesses. At least not as much as the London one. So you find yourself coming across various obstacles etc. At the same time what I am trying to do now is very exclusive, all handmade and special, so I find a lot of support and help from my friends and other people in the industry.

How did you become a fashion designer?
Lotta Volkova: I started making clothes as a hobby, by customizing a few pieces from my wardrobe before going out to clubs in London. I wanted to make special and exciting pieces handmade and crafted, which resulted in, customized with leather and studs, jeans, t-shirts and jackets. Then my hobby grew into a menswear label, Lotta Skeletrix.

What's your inspiration source?
Lotta Volkova: What inspires me the most is people who have the courage to be themselves and to express what they are though their looks and other mediums. I am interested in the characteristic uniforms of our society. I like to play around with the codes of these uniforms, confusing the minds, in order to create new ones. Also music has always been one of the main driving and inspiring forces in my life. I like strong music that challenges our normal ways, that has something to say.

Lotta Skeletrix brand was popular for boys too. Why did you start a womenswear label this time? Will you start menswear again?
Lotta Volkova: I have always thought men wear clothes for very different reasons than women. Women are always interested in attraction, they choose their clothes to attract, no matter how careless they may seem, but it is always about certain kind of attention, if you know what i mean. Men wear clothes for different reasons. To me it seems a lot of it is about expressing what you like, what you are into. In a way its about what kind of group of society you belong to. A lot of man claim they do not care about what they wear, but even though it is a conscious decision and they are taking on a certain social opinion. Menswear is a lot about uniform and I like challenging preconceptions and subverting different codes of these uniforms. This is why I started making menswear in the first place. At the moment I make womenswear and it’s a new challenge. I am aware that women want to look attractive and sexy and what I m trying to do is to mix both ideas, I'm still interested in subcultures and uniforms that fit them, and I would like to bring that into womenswear. For me it's very important that the look remains sexy and feminine, though, perhaps not obviously, but has a twist and idea and even lifestyle behind it. However some of the pieces from the collection can be worn by both men and women, like for example t-shirts and harnesses.

Please explain the season's concept.
Lotta Volkova: For me, this first womenswear collection symbolises a beginning of a new way of expressing my ideas and thoughts. At the same time, it is a part of my world that I've been creating for a long time that includes my past work, what I am doing now and I guess what will follow. I believe in creating this world, some kind of fantasy, and filling it in with elements. I guess this is just another element of it. So for this collection, I was exploring the ideas of strong femininity and body. I was interested in subverting the ideas of fetish and formal clothing, particularly a shirt. So most of the dresses are based on the shirt pattern. You can wear them in a formal occasion or in a different context with a harness over it. The same concept follows with leather harness t-shirts and dresses, which are very easy to wear but can be worn in different settings.

This time, I see more white and the brand looks much brighter than Lotta Skeletrix.
Lotta Volkova: To be honest the colour has never been a priority to me, though most of Lotta Skeletrix pieces came in black, it sort of came naturally, and I also used different colours before, like beige and green etc. I think it all depends on the idea and influences that inspire the clothes. I also admit, I like to change and a lot of times get easily bored, so the time has come and I m not as excited about black as I used to be, though it will remain to be one of my favourite colours. I like to challenge myself and not limit to particular ideas.

It seems you adore dark fantasy. Why is that?
Lotta Volkova: I have always been attracted to the rare, unseen, unheard and subconscious and something that’s basically takes you a while to find out about, he he, like the darker side of the mind, something that’s hidden and manifests itself only in certain ways, though forces you to listen to it. I guess the whole dark thing comes naturally.

For Japanese customers, studded jeans and denim jacket are very popular. Is there any chance that you will re-produce them in the near future?
Lotta Volkova: I like to think of my collections as permanent in a way, and certain pieces that I am doing now will be available as classics. However I have moved on from Lotta Skeletrix and am not interested in repeating those pieces because I find they reflect the time when Lotta Skeletrix was made and would not fit so much with how I feel and what is going on right now. I find a lot of people have been using those techniques since and I don’t think it is interesting to repeat them again.

Are there any stores that we can find your collection besides Maria Luisa in Paris?
Lotta Volkova: At the moment I sell exclusively to Maria Luisa, Paris.

How do you manage both fashion design and styling jobs recently?
Lotta Volkova: As I mentioned before, my design and my styling are all part of one world for me. And I love to work in different mediums. I find each one of them inspires the other and there is some kind of exchange and contribution going on between them. I sometimes use my own pieces in my styling shoots and sometimes make special pieces for my shoots that would later on be included into my collections.

Is there anything that you want to challenge besides fashion design and styling?
Lotta Volkova:I have always wanted to make films. I think films have such an amazing impact on people worldwide. It is a very accessible language and at the same time you can really say what you want. I like the idea of moving image, that challenges time and space.


Photography: Manfred Unger
Model: Niko

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