EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
A Spotlight on Fashion Designer KATYA LEONOVICH
By Eden Herbstman
Moscow-born international designer Katya Leonovich makes the unconventional beautiful in her couture and ready-to-wear collections. Leonovich, who graduated from the Fashion Academy of Fine Arts in Moscow, utilizes her trained art eye for her design techniques. Katya married fashion and art during her Spring/Summer 2011 runway show, when the designer began to live paint onto a couture bridal gown during the show. Katya’s design concept revolves around her belief in “Beautiful Garbage.” She incorporates fabrics of chiffon and silks with an unlikely assortment of materials including torn paper, pieces of aluminum, feathers, and fringes. This concept is best expressed within her vision of couture bridal wear, mixing the traditional with the alternative in her gowns.
Eden Herbstman: You’ve shown your collections in places around the world such as Paris, Milan, New York City, and Rome, as well as studying art in Moscow. Does having visited these places impact your collections?
Katya Leonovich: Yes, absolutely! I am inspired by the many differences in each city–the architecture, the color of the sky, the different types of people, and their styles of dressing. I am also really inspired by the musicality of their languages.
EH: What inspired your “Beautiful Garbage” concept?
KL: Well, beauty doesn’t last forever. Anton Chekov said, “When I see beauty, it makes me sad because I know that will not last long.” When I am designing a dress and there are extra pieces laying around on the table or floor, it represents a freedom for me and this freedom inspires me to create and recreate with this in mind. The garbage becomes more useful.
EH: Do you use the same mentality when designing for men, as you do for women?
KL: Generally, menswear is more conservative. For my menswear, I take a more minimalistic approach. When compared to my paintings, I use more color in my womenswear and less in menswear, while still keeping a boldness for both.
EH: You’ve broken the mold of traditional bridal gowns by infusing your cutting edge design aesthetic into your bridal couture line. Did you feel bridal couture lacked a bolder artistic expression?
KL: Fashion is always changing. I feel that bridal tends to lag a little behind. I still believe that a bride should be glamorous, but I wanted to introduce a new point of view, new construction and shapes, and new materials.
EH: What is one thing you want people to know that differentiates you from other designers in the industry?
KL: I am not a big trend follower. I like to use modern silhouettes but infuse new and futuristic ideas while still keeping it wearable. Also, my inspiration for a particular collection is usually vast. I am never inspired by one thing or idea.
Katya Leonovich is a Moscow born designer based in Manhattan, New York. She is the past winner of the Mittelmodal Prize, the Smirnoff International Competition, the Nadejda Lamanova Prize of the Russian Federation and Supima’s inaugural Competition for Emerging Designers.
Katya Leonovich interviewed by Eden Herbstman
Written by Eden Herbstman
Photography by Coco Alexander
Design by Jillian Mercado
Katya Leonovich, 2012, Photography by Coco Alexander