I’m on my way to meet renowned fashion designer Ianis Chamalidy, who has a design atelier and boutique on Petrogradsky, my favourite island in the Neva, situated in the heart of St Petersburg. The place is a fascinating mixture of old and new, combining classic architecture with trendy boutiques and an overall air of splendour, authenticity and timelessness.
As a fashion designer, Ianis has had a diverse career, working for St Petersburg’s renowned Mariinsky Theatre and various international projects for museums around the world. His international career really took off after his work was recognized by Isabella Blow, a British magazine editor who has worked with Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy. Some of his designs have also been included in the Hermitage collection as pieces of historical heritage.
I find Ianis working on a new dress, surrounded by sewing material and design drawings, fully concentrated on measuring a fine black satin fabric. “I’m constantly creating new designs,” he tells me. “I just got back from Paris and I am full of ideas and energy to create new pieces. But let me show you around!”
Ianis leads me into the showroom and takes a dress off a hanger. “Every collection I create is made for modern, active women who are on the move. What makes my designs different though is that they can be adapted to create a range of looks.”
He shows me the beautiful dark blue, chiffon-and-silk dress that has a classic French touch to it, but when he flips the collar, it becomes a New York style dress with straight clean lines, and when he pulls a few strings it is transformed into an elegant modern evening dress.
“That’s amazing!” I say. “I’ve never seen anything like it! And each dress within the dress has such a distinct style! So where do you get your inspiration?”
“It’s very diverse: partly from Russian heritage and traditions, from past fashion designers, but also from my family. In a way working with fabric is part of my genetic make-up and I have always been determined to develop my own signature style that would be quite different from anything else.”
“And I imagine that shopping here is unlike shopping anywhere else!” I say.
Ianis laughs. “Definitely! Women who come to our boutique become artists: they are involved in the creation of their design and determine their own appearance. They can experiment and choose their style according to their mood and the occasion.”
“What are your views on the Russian fashion market?”
“I think it’s a fascinating time: we see more and more talented young people creating and developing. And there is more and more space for niche design. I think the global market is saturated and that there is no space for another global brand like ZARA, but there is growing space for small niche brands that target specific groups. It makes it a very exciting time to be a creator and designer!”
by Katerina Rogova
© 2013 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands
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