Pure art expressed via clothing

The 25th Republican Fashion Mill, Festival-Contest of Fashion and Photography, features futuristic fantasies, strict functionality, hipster trousers and hand-made dresses from budding fashion designers
Educational drive

For a long time, leading the way in the country’s fashion industry has been Minsk’s prerogative. It may seem that those from the provinces are at a di­sadvantage. However, Fashion Mill tours the regions to locate talented designers, helping them take their first steps and make a name while studying. Of course, a fashion designer’s reputation must be ‘earned’ as early as possible.

In recent years, Fashion Mill has transformed from a small artistic venture into a major cultural-educational project. This year’s early round saw 648 applications from all over Belarus, and the figure is growing annually. Those admitted to the next round receive all possible support and assistance, with 88 collections reaching the final round: enough to challenge the jury. Naturally, their professional eye is able to discern talent and skill more easily than the untrained.

Pursuing a career in fashion design takes time and is expensive. Young designer Ilya Kivaka, from Baranovichi, admits that he wouldn’t have been able to participate in the competition wi­thout the assistance of his educational establishment. “I’m 20 and study at Baranovichi State Professional-Technical College, specialising in fashion design. I adore my specialty, having been always fond of drawing and inventing something new. This is my first participation in Fashion Mill and I’m so thankful to all who’ve helped me. College heads have provided me with fabrics, allowing me to keep my costs low,” he comments.

Fashion for children leads

As is traditional, the Festival ga­thered many foreign guests — including fashion designers, heads of fashion schools and the jury. All attentively inspected the collections, selecting those who’ll later take foreign internships and take part in international contests. 

Sanita Blomniece, who represents Latvia’s Habitus Baltia fashion contest, admits her goal, saying, “We’ve been liaising with the Fashion Mill for several years and, annually, invite a contestant to the finals of our international Habitus Baltia contest, hosted by Riga. I’m here for the second time. Last year, I really enjoyed the children’s collections and wish to select a designer in this category this time.”

Truly, Belarusians are among the leaders in the ‘children’s sphere’. Svetlana Vorobieva (from Gomel), Kristina Gagutskaya and Anastasiya Dorozhkina (from Vitebsk), Alina Daineko (from Svetlogorsk) and other designers offered fashionable solutions for children: cosy jumpers — suitable for holidays and playgrounds — and gorgeous princess costumes.

Some designers present collections ready for industrial manufacturing. Among them is Yulia Golyakh, from Zhodino, who works at Svitanak JSC and showed off a wonderful collection of clothes for girls. No doubt, they’d sell well in the shops. Our industry needs such an approach: we can’t all afford haute couture clothes yet we want our children to look fashionable.

Strong and stylish

Foreign guests often note their surprise at Fashion Mill championing men’s collections. Tatiana Mikhalkova notes that it’s a true challenge to find desig­ners of men’s clothes for Russia’s international Russian Silhouette contest. It might seem strange, since Russia occupies such a huge territory in comparison to Belarus.

Alexandra Zhuk and Darina Koval presented a collection for trendy urbanites while Polina Zyuzgina, from Bobruisk, created brutal megapolis angels, dressed in thick jackets with leather detailing. Meanwhile, duo Anna Gladkaya and Irina Krivodubskaya impressed everyone with their New World Warriors collection, embracing avant-garde steampunk, with leather cylinders and goggles, paintings and collage. The ‘post-apocalyptic’ approach looked ready to appear in a film blockbuster.

Even jury members were taking photos on their phones. Clothes can be art, deserving applause! 

By Irina Yevseeva

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