Designer Masha Reva finds herself to be the first Ukrainian many people encounter when she interned at Thakoon in New York, at Walter van Beirandonck in Antwerp and even during her current MA studies at Saint Martins in London. The late Professor Louise Wilson OBE at Saint Martins once teased her, “Ukraine? What is it? Is it Russia?” Naturally, with her warm and friendly personality, she is a living exemplar repelling the common stereotypes of Ukrainians being kitschy and luxury brands-obsessed. Winner of the Harper’s Bazaar Fashion Forward Grand Prix Award in 2010, the Odessa native is known for her illustrations and digital textile prints. The latest Odessa series for Syndicate cheekily plays with the Ukrainian kitsch. With collections stocked at places such as Joyce in Hong Kong, The Church in Los Angeles, and Opening Ceremony in New York beginning this August, fans of her work include singer MIA and casting director Natalie Joos. “I get this energy to continue doing what I love, when I see people all over the world, tagging you on Instagram wearing your clothes,” acknowledges Ms. Reva.
Here, Ms. Reva talks to Playing Fashion about her special connection with art and fashion and how she is putting Ukraine on the fashion map.
I COME FROM A CREATIVE BACKGROUND
My mum is a fashion designer and my father is a sculptor. Paper and paint are always around me. My family inspires me to try something creatively and to experiment.
MY DAD ALWAYS PERCEIVES ME AS A GROWN UP
talking to me in a really serious philosophical way from childhood. In the beginning, I really didn’t understand what he was actually saying. I was challenged to think differently and he is always here to help me.
AT THAKOON, I SAW A REALLY NICE EXAMPLE OF A COMMERCIAL BRAND
They are really into details. They are thinking about the audience, who the woman is, what age is she, etc. It was a wake up call to reality.
IT IS HARD TO CHOOSE JUST ONE DESIGNER I LOOK UP TO
I really love Japanese designers, like Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo. I think everybody in fashion is fond of Rei. She is a genius. Last year, I found an archive of ‘90s collections by Ann Demeulemeester and I was so amazed. I also really love McQueen. When I was in the stage of choosing what to do, my father was like: “You just have to be like McQueen”. He has such a great impact and influence on fashion and me.
UKRAINE IS A REALLY NICE COUNTRY
Some people think it is horrible, others think, “Ukraine? What is it? Is it Russia?” It makes me think why they think like that and how I could put it in better perspectives and to make it unique. Right now, I am working on my next collection about Ukraine.
MY SIGNATURE IS THE VISUAL ASPECT
I love to draw and make collages. My clothes are a screen of what I can draw. Fashion for me is a really interesting media to communicate my ideas through irony. I love to tell stories where you can laugh.
IT’S GREAT TO FEEL THIS ENERGY WHEN YOU DRAW
and you can put all your ideas on paper with lines and paint. I am calling this an exercise for painters. It is an amazingly helpful tool when you are a fashion designer to express what you think quickly. It is also a kind of meditation, because when I draw, I explore my deeper self. I can concentrate and think about my ideas.
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS TO KEEP ON BELIEVING
in myself even though it is horrible outside and even inside me. You have to keep on doing what you love. Before that, I was living in a fairy tale in Ukraine. Then, I come to London. Everything is tough in London and I had to integrate into this environment. It helps me become stronger. After all, I am really happy it happened.
THIS YEAR IS ALL ABOUT A NEW STAGE OF WORK
bringing my work to a new level and to find something new for myself. I want to move from print to real clothes. I imagine my womenswear to be something emerging between prints, texture and technology with some kind of finishings. I really love the idea of clothes that make you feel comfortable, beautiful and happy.
Photography by Jens Ingvarsson; styling by Robert Mishchenko; hair and make-up by Sophie Haig / BA Reps; model: Monika Jablonczky / Supreme.
Opening Image: dress by Masha Reva; bracelets and earrings by Forever21; shoes by Bally.