Viktoria Savvateeva: Her Main Aim...
Interview Anna Kulyagina
Photos Konstantin Provorov
As little girls, many of us loved to make clothes for our favorite dolls, sewing shirts, dresses, even underwear. But how many of us grew up to become clothing designers? Meet one little girl who did. Viktoria Savvateeva started as a theatrical costume designer and then became a stylist for Russian MTV. In 2001, she distinguished herself from the crowd of aspiring young designers with her own clothing label, MainAim.
Was it hard to start your own business?
It is hard when you don’t know what you want to do, but I knew exactly. In high school, we had a sketch comedy group that needed costumes for a performance, so I made them. It was then that I knew this was what I really wanted to do. I studied design at the Moscow Technological Institute, and then I worked in television. That was where I really learned a lot. Not only did I meet people who would later become my clients, but I learned about business. After a few years, though, it got boring and routine, so in 2001 I started MainAim.
So far, you’ve created eight different collections. Is it difficult to keep coming up with something new while retaining a consistently recognizable style?
Ideas for the next collection come when you are working on the current one. One idea might end up as a motif that carries through the entire collection, while another might be used in a single dress. I can come up with new ideas while listening to music or looking at art.
This was the case with my autumn/winter 2008-2009 collection, which is inspired by the work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Partway through the design process, I learned that a Lautrec exhibit was opening at the Tretyakov Gallery here in Moscow. That added to my inspiration, of course!
I suppose like most designers I have a signature style that is reflected in all my designs, regardless of the collection. Even the most diverse of my creations share a recognizable style that identifies them all as my work.
Well, I think a lot of young girls feel an attraction to Paris — this was certainly true of me — imagining themselves at the Eiffel Tower or strolling through the Place Blanche, dining at a restaurant with a nighttime view of the illuminated city. It’s just so romantic.
And of course, I’m in love with Lautrec’s art. He uses so much light and is clearly inspired by the female form. He loved his subjects — many of whom came from the seamier walks of life — and conveyed their beauty in honest depictions, without idealizing them or resorting to false glamour.
What do you think makes people like designer clothes?
It is originality that appeals to people. Clothing reflects the mindset and outlook of the wearer. And if people find your clothes interesting, then you are successful. I like what I do. I like when women wear what I create and look forward to seeing what my new collection will be.
Collection autumn/winter 2008/09
Would you like to work in one of the big design houses?
Yes, I would, in the future. To see how they work and to feel the atmosphere there.
Would that be easier than having your own label?
Well, now I work for myself. I have marketing directors and PR managers, but it is my trademark and I make the decisions. Sometimes not everyone agrees with them. For me the creative process is paramount, but sometimes there are business considerations that are at odds with this. It is not simply all about what I want to design. I have to think carefully about who might want to wear my clothes.
For more about the designs of Viktoria Savvateeva, visit www.mainaim.ru