Photography Felix Swensson
Hair & Grooming Karolina Danielson
Model Henry @ Nisch Management
Words Marta Strinati
All clothing Tigran Avetisyan SS15
Hi Tigran, how are you?
Hi, I’m fine, thank you!
So, tell us a bit about your background. How did you get into fashion?
Well, I am a Russian born fashion designer who trained in London at Central Saint Martins. It began very randomly, I never really wanted to become a fashion designer until I was about twenty one, I was considering a career in product design instead. One day though, a really good friend of mine introduced me to menswear and I decided to give it a shot. I still consider myself as more of a product designer than a fashion designer, I don’t think about fashion in the same way a lot of people do. To me fashion is not about trends, it’s more a way to communicate ideas. Fashion is fast, omnipresent and sometimes overwhelming. You find such a variety of people working in the industry, there is this cross-over, and that’s what I like about it.
What was your experience like at Saint Martins?
I don’t think Saint Martins suits everybody but for me it was crucial because it gave me a lot of freedom. Education in Russia is very different, at Saint Martins we were given free access to loads of tools and at the same time we were being exposed to London and its creative scene. I think the experience really opened my mind. Looking back at the person I was before Saint Martins and the person I am now I feel I’ve changed and developed a lot in that time.
You moved back to Russia recently yes? How are you finding it?
I graduated from Saint Martins in 2012, in a time of great recession, it was really difficult to find work at that time. That was the main reason I decided to move back, the lack of work opportunities forced me to and although it was a wonderful experience, I was getting quite tired of London. I guess from a non-student perspective it’s a very tough city to live and work in. Currently the fashion industry in Russia is very small, I wouldn’t even call it an industry. At the moment, I am just stuck in my studio 24/7.
Russia and China are rapidly growing as luxury fashion consumers, do you think this might be leading to the establishment of a new fashion capital?
I think you might be onto something. We are definitely big consumers of fashion and I think in the next few years you’ll be seeing some new names coming out of Russia. There is definitely a big focus on the country at the moment, we have a couple of designers that are really popular abroad now. Russia is such a mysterious place for Europeans, people are really curious about this country. Opening Ceremony, one of the most important fashion retailers in my opinion, is doing a “Russian year”. Each year they’ll focus on a different country, choose some designers from that country and sell their garments for two seasons. This year starting from September it will be all about Russia, I am actually packing the pieces to send to them while I’m talking to you. Another thing that’s happening soon is that myself and Russian designer Dasha Selyanova (ZDDZ) will be having a show in New York on the 3rd of September, during Fashion Week. I think it’s really exciting to be a Russian designer right now. The political system in Russia changed about 20 years ago and now my generation is the first one that doesn’t have any recollection of the USSR era. I lived in Russia not the Soviet Union most of my life and I feel we are very disparate from the previous generations. I have a feeling you will be hearing more about us in the upcoming years.
I’m particularly interested in the use of typography in your collections. Can we talk a bit about that?
There are many different explanations. One is that it’s a fast way of communicating ideas, even though I said before that fashion is one of the best ways to tell a story I think it’s very difficult to communicate effectively through fashion. It’s not like painting or art, fashion is much more difficult because it has a broader context, text communicates ideas in a very quick way. In my opinion it’s sometimes better to have something written rather than try to express a message through intricate techniques. Even though I use words I try to be as vague as possible. Usually when someone asks me, “What is the meaning of this collection?” I say that I’m not really into giving answers. I feel it’s more interesting to hear how other people perceive my work, my work is about having a dialogue with the public instead of a monologue. I sometimes wish that everyone would come up to me and tell me how they’ve interpreted my work. I like to make my collections as open to interpretation as possible. I also really like how type looks on fabric, I love fonts.
For the latest collection your attention was captured by the role of perfumes in fashion brands. Can you tell us a bit more about the concept?
My last collection is called Duty Free. Last season I was flying a lot and waiting at the airport so I spent lots of time at duty free shops. I was really amazed by how people buy perfumes rather than fashion related items. I started thinking about those brands that make collections only to keep up perfumes sales such as Victor&Rolf; or Mugler, and I asked myself “What would my perfume smell like? Why not create my own scent?” I bought four or five duty free fragrances and I mixed them all in one bottle. That’s what Duty Free is about, this crazy mixture of scents.
It’s interesting how perfume can become symbol of a fashion brands’ universe, like a signature that’s not visually expressed.
I think it is important to experiment and try to create the most complete experience for the public, to tell the most beautify story. This season I made a perfume, in the past I experimented with video commercials. The ad campaign for last season was a video that saw the protagonists “vandalising” news stands by placing stickers of my past collection on fashion magazines’ advertising spaces. I was actually sending free stickers following that, teasing people to do the same.
Your first collection addressed the feeling of instability that young creatives and young people in general are dealing with nowadays. What do you think about the current state of the fashion industry?
Certainly the fashion industry has never been as demanding as it is nowadays in both positive and negative ways. I think fashion changes so fast that we cannot really know what will be next. I am actually optimistic about it, look at the new generation of young designers for instance, or at the growing customers’ awareness of what they consume. I think there is a way to find a balance.
So what upcoming projects are you working on?
The next big one is the show in New York this September in collaboration with VFiles. As far as other upcoming projects go…I don’t really plan ahed, so it’s difficult for me to say. Nevertheless, what I try to do is make sure I visit different places every season and present my work. The first time we went to Kiev, the second times to Pitti Uomo in Florence, this time New York. I don’t really know where I will be heading next time, we’re like a gypsy caravan, I will just decide on the spot.