A Conversation with KATYA LEONOVICH
By Lori Zimmer
Designer Katya Leonovich’s designs are a controlled chaos. Her couture combines gauzes, chiffons, fine silks, torn paper, pieces of fur scraps, bits of tinfoil, loose feathers, and pieces of denim. The unlikely materials are magically unified, creating Leonovich’s signature “Beautiful Garbage” look. The designer has mastered the juxtaposition of scrap and fine textile to create collections that toe the line between fashion and sculptural art.
Born in Moscow, Leonovich has lived in Paris, Rome, and New York, taking each city as inspiration for her designs. The world-influence has paid off; she has won the Mittelmodal Prize, the Smirnoff International Competition, the Nadejda Lamanova Prize and Supima’s inaugural Competition for Emerging Designers over the last few years. Her latest move to New York has spurred her last collection: a bridal collection, which was also inspired by her own wedding dress. Although designed for brides, the collection still holds true to the designer’s aesthetics, created for the bold, edgy bride.
Her clothes are meant to evoke altruism, and the optimistic outlook of finding beauty in everything–a way of life that Leonovich feels passionate about. Her dresses follow the contours of the female form–with unexpected cut-outs, gathers, and materials–with a look that has been deconstructed and reconstructed many times. While some designers are known for their tailoring and crisp, clean lines, Leonovich sets herself apart by creating voluminous texture that flatters the female form in the same ways that other designers use fine tailoring for.
With boundless creativity, Leonovich’s work leaps between fashion and art, fusing materials from all of the spectrum into polished, complicated garments.
Lori Zimmer: Your first ever Bridal Collection, based on the concept of your own wedding dress, launched this spring. How was it to debut something so personal?
Katya Leonovich: I am living in my world, I am inventing new language. I am taking inspiration from my own painting to make my fashion. My dresses, my arts, and my personal life style goes together all the time.
LZ: Your “Beautiful Garbage” concept fuses fine fabrics with materials such as torn paper, aluminum, feather, and fringe, creating a crafted and elegant chaos. What inspired you to create this style?
KL: Everything around me is a chaos; I can find the beauty everywhere, in beautiful people, animals, landscapes. I can find beauty inside the garbage can. Everything is a beauty, you just need to see it.
LZ: You’re from Moscow, and have lived in Paris, Rome, and New York. How has each city inspired you? Where do you think fashion is really hot right now?
KL: It’s complicated feelings–every city has different smells, proportions, colors. Moscow was taught, strong, and edgy; Rome was a “sandwich of the history,” very baroque and it smelled good food; Paris was elegant and sweetie; New York is crazy, chaotic, and fun.
I think the hot stuff can be everywhere; it depends on the designer and personality, but not place or nationality.
LZ: What are your current inspirations?
KL: My new Summer/12 Collection is all about America–my new country to discover…
I fall in love with New York, I fall in love with great American landscapes. And, of course, my new experiment with denim fabric associates with America. In Europe, they don’t have football; I love the players’ outfits; those uniforms are somewhere between a ballet dancers’ and astronauts’.
LZ: What do you want to see on women this fall?
KL: My dresses!
LZ: What current fashion trend do you despise?
KL: In every trend there are talented and smart ideas, and there are dull and stupid things. Personally, I despise the trend that destroys the beauty of the shape of the human body.
Katya Leonovich was born in Moscow. She has designed couture in Paris, Rome, and New York City.
Written by Lori Zimmer
Edited by Meaghan Coffey
Photography Hadar Pitchon
Design by Marie Havens & Jillian Mercado
Special Thanks to Mauricio Padilha & MAO PR!
Katya Leonovich, In her studio, New York, NY, 2011, Photography by Hadar Pitchon