The fashion desk likes to scratch beneath the surface on the thought processes behind the fashion world’s chicest women and design talent. Cue Vogue talks with Alena Akhmadullina, one of the strongest voices in the Russian fashion market today. The established maison unveiled its Resort 2018 collection in October 2017, resplendent in its signature intricate embroidered prints and so-wearable long-line dresses. Here Vogue.me revisits the collection that is now in stores.
While the new offering is softer on its usual more-is-more approach to sartorial dressing, Akhmadullina’s woman is still as bold as she is decorously dressed. As the designer preps for a global adventure to meet her clientele across the continents, Akhmadullina discusses modern modest dressing and the in-built Middle Eastern appeal of her collections with Vogue.me.
What are your thoughts on conservative dressing as an industry-wide movement?
I personally don’t design my collection with the objective of being conservative although I am aware that my creations tend to be more modest. My fascination with fairytales goes hand-in-hand during the era when they were written and of course originally imagined. A regal silhouette can also be elegant, feminine, sensual, and romantic, no matter how modest or “conservative” it may seem and that is what I’m looking to capture with my designs.
Who wears your designs best?
The Alena Akhmadullina woman is someone who appreciates the concept of storytelling in fashion. She embraces her femininity and loves incorporating fairytales into her everyday. She certainly is a global citizen with a passion for culture and the arts.
Do you consider the Arab woman when designing?
The Middle East has been a great supporter of mine from the very beginning because the Arab woman has a very discerning taste when it comes to eveningwear. The [Middle Eastern woman] has always appreciated the intricate detailing like the beading and embroidery as well as the richness of the prints and patterns. I was back in Dubai this year and met with many old and new friends and am planning to do another tour around the region as well.
Can you describe your design process from idea to a complete look?
Each collection is focused on one specific tale in Russian folklore. That is usually where I begin. From there I focus on the various elements of the story that inspire me. It can be something as literal as the mountainous landscape, which will appear as a print pattern or something as abstract as the innocence of a particular character, which can be conveyed in the general mood and feel of the collection. Sometimes I dissect a story and incorporate everything from the plot, the characters and every piece of symbolism while at other times I’ve just used them as a guideline.
Share some memories that you are most proud of in your career so far.
The brand was founded in 2001 and I presented my first collection at Moscow Fashion Week as soon as I launched. It’s hard to pick one particular moment but launching and presenting in the same year was certainly a big one. I knew I wanted to make a big impression so I took my time and waited until I was ready and had the support I needed from industry peers. Generally speaking, I’d have to say I’m proud of all my ups and downs because even the difficult times have taught me so much. In 2005 I had my first presentation at Paris Fashion Week, which was another milestone. My proudest moment recently has been launching at Selfridges in the UK because I’ve spent the last few seasons really focusing on the international market so that partnership is a wonderful validation.
What is in the pipeline for the brand?
I’m in the process of planning a runway presentation in Paris and later in the season I hope to tour the US and Europe to meet with all the different clients I haven’t had a chance to meet last year.
Alena Akhmadullina is available online and at Boutique N on Al Soor Street, Kuwait.