Born in the Ukraine, up-and-coming local designer Anastasia Lomonova trained as a visual artist at Ryerson before moving to Montreal in 2007 to work in fashion, establishing her own fashion label in 2011. She has won several awards and been named one of Canada’s most promising young designers.
Cult MTL talked to Lomonova about her new collection, the industry and Montreal style. Check out a gallery of pictures of last year’s collection below.
Kat Sark: What are the themes and inspirations for your new collection?
Anastasia Lomonova: The new collection is based on North African inspirations, like the nomad, tribe, desert, things imagined, things from past.
“Dress Code” is a new line of basics that I created alongside with my new collection. It is very minimalist, adapted to day-to-day life, with pure, clean lines.
KS: What can we look forward to at your show during Montreal Fashion Week this year?
AL: I’m excited about the new venue, it’s very different from Marché Bonsecours. You will see a lot of evening wear, but also casual things, like pants and jackets. I also added a showpiece, more editorial and more imaginative.
KS: What are some of the challenges for women designers and women in general in the fashion industry?
AL: I don’t think that there any challenges for women in particular that are gender-specific — if anything women have an advantage in the fashion industry. There are general difficulties, but they are faced by all equally.
KS: How do you see the relationship between fashion and feminism?
AL: I think it’s the same relationship as between fashion and society. What’s great about fashion is the way it allows us to present ourselves to the world, what we wear speaks about us before we use words. When fashion is used correctly, it is empowering. My woman is not androgynous; my woman is strong in her femininity.
I think women should feel empowered because they are women, not because they can take on men’s roles in society. There are obviously no limits to what women can do, but I feel that femininity should be celebrated. Most of the things I make are dresses, and things that underline and celebrate the female form.
KS: Is there a difference between male and female designers?
AL: There is perhaps a difference in how male and female designers approach design in general. Sometimes I think it may be easier for women to design for women because we have an intimate connection with the female body, while the male designers have a different relationship with the female form, they approach it as outsiders and can propose things that a female designer would not always do.
KS: Does your European background give you any advantages or disadvantages in your work?
AL: Our background plays a certain role in what we do, it adds a certain vision, but I wouldn’t say it plays a significant role, it’s just where I grew up. While I may have been influenced by European fashion, I try to be conscious of my surrounding aesthetic and what I see around me.
KS: How would you describe the Montreal fashion scene?
AL: It’s very liberal because there are so many artists living in Montreal. There is a lot of personal style that is very individualistic, there is a lot of personality in how people dress. More freedom and creative expression than in Toronto.
KS: What is your relationship to this city? You trained as a fashion designer here and you established your label here — were you ever tempted to leave?
AL: I really love it here, I’ve done my fair share of travelling, I wouldn’t trade Montreal for any other Canadian city. I would like to travel with my work and see what opportunities there are, but I will always show my collections here.
KS: Do you have any advice for young and up-and-coming designers?
AL: The most important thing would be to know who they’re designing for. If a person is really artistic about it, it will take them several years to figure out who they are as an artist, and what their voice is. Having a business sense is also helpful, because fashion is also about commerce.
KS: How do you approach a new collection?
AL: I start with sketches, throw together a couple of samples and start fine-tuning from there.
In between working on collections, I do the production for the orders I get and I have several custom clients. There is not much time from collection to collection. I usually take a short break to catch up on things I don’t have time for while preparing a new collection. It takes about 4-5 months to prepare a collection. My last collection was 13 pieces because they were all dresses, this collection is 30-40 pieces, but they make up about 25 looks on the runway. ■
Anastasia Lomonova will be presenting her third collection at the Montréal Fashion Week on Tuesday, September 4th, 2012.
Katrina Sark is a Montreal fashion and culture blogger at Suites Culturelles.