Ewlisiya: blending design and ethnicity

From St. Petersburg to the world Source: www.behance.net/ewlisiya
She imagines fashion in a world where modernity and luxurious glamour rule; indeed, she is an exception. Dressed in a loose burgundy dress and a bark necklace that she made by hand, Viktoria appears. Viktoria Ustinova is a twenty-six-year-old Russian fashion designer, illustrator and photographer. As for fashion itself, she wants to re-think its meaning and wants to portray real culture for real women. In fact, she is a real designer, whose ideal in life is being a multidisciplinary human being. Her motto is to depict mythological fantasy. “I have wanted to be a fashion designer all my life; since I was three years old. Now, one of my dreams is to become an illustrator, to draw city skylines”, she declares. Not everything is fashion for her and instead of choosing one thing to pursue in life, she has decided to follow two paths at the same time: illustration and fashion.

Her eyes are as clean as her designs; in fact, she is a unique young woman who does not use professional models but real people. Viktoria still appreciates genuine people for Ewlisiya, her brand. Over a cup of tea, the artist explains the origin of the name, “mythology is so important for me. This name is a bit historical, mythological, Russian and unusual. It is perfect and beautiful.” The origins of the name Ewlisiya are, practically, inexistent but, surprisingly, historical. Ewlisiya is the wife’s name of the fictional Russian character Bus Belojar – a Slavic half-mythical person mentioned in The Book of Veles–.

Ustinova combines architecture, Russian culture, Nordic mythology and feminine traits as part of her unsophisticated and natural brand. At one point, she visualizes herself as a mythological creature contemplating the sea and finding inspiration in life itself. Despite the fact that Russia is a country where people tend to dress up more, she keeps dressing-up as simple and comfortable as possible. “I never wanted to be fashionable at all; fashion is my job, not for myself.” She could be the next Lagerfeld or McCartney but Russia needs to help her; she has such an artistic way to blend architecture with textile and clothes designing. Governmental institutions need to support her art as a cause. She presents Russian values to the rest of the society, and in exchange Ewlisiya gets recognition.

“All people want something special for themselves”, she says with a hint of seriousness. Even though Russia is becoming “westernized” by mass markets and pop fashion industry, Russian women still look for customized fabrics and individual designs that commercial brands have no interest in creating. Unfortunately, the fashion industry is a business, and even though designers are shifting into an artistic profile, they need this industry to succeed. In this world of multitasking and volatility, designers must anticipate trends and must also become businesspeople while designing their garments. Viktoria is a perfect example. She has been performing as a model for her own designs and at the same time, she works as Ewlisiya’s public relations manager and art director.

Viktoria admits that her aim is to create something new that fits contemporary society in order to attain recognition in European countries. “This is what everybody wants, in the end” but the environment is complicated and competitive. Nevertheless, she puts emphasis on her name: victory. Viktoria has been awarded with several prizes in different design competitions. Indeed, her sensitivity and architectural-ethnic background has helped her to stand out from the crowd.

While she feeds her mind with Viviane Westwood, Balenciaga, Rubens and Van Gogh, Viktoria has decided to create cultural consciousness through aesthetics, and at the same time, she says that designers are obligated to think about their audience as a the endpoint; otherwise, they are reflecting their problems without even noticing it.

Between luxurious styles and sharp, well-designed outfits, women in St. Petersburg look amazingly trendy at every moment, and their interest for international brands has risen in the last years. This fact has become a difficulty when finding alternative designs but that is the way the economy works these days. In an attempt to find something feminine and attractive, Russian women look for clothes in capitalist fashion monsters such as H&M or Inditex. They provide trendy garments at reasonable prices and now again, the project of becoming an entrepreneur in this industry has been left aside. She is surprisingly calm and looks patient while discussing these difficulties. “St. Petersburg and Moscow have a lot of potential and talented people but the lack of support is an enormous problem.”

In turquoise, violet, silk and organic cotton, Karelia, one of Ewlisiya’s collections, is portraying ethnic Russian values as a human dialogue between generations and people of different communities. In her head, there is a clear distinction between the artistic ideal of working with commercial brands, but at the end of the day she is fundamentally, a designer, an illustrator.

…With a modest tone she expresses gratitude for our interest.

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