Global Young Designer Spotlight: Lena Maksimova

Global Young Designer Spotlight: Lena Maksimova

While preparing for Harbin Fashion Week, Maksimova told us about her unique approach to combining local traditions and high fashion, and where she sees the contemporary Russian fashion scene going.

Maksimova‘s style
epitomises casual confidence, with each piece representing the
designer’s eclectic approach to unite contemporary design with her
Russian heritage. In Maksimova’s creations, minimalism meets
Russian avant garde via intricate details, soft tones, A-line cuts
and oversized shapes.

Not restricted to a singular theme, the
St Petersburg
-based designer immerses herself in the process of
creating a collection, and how the fabrics, silhouettes and
accessories come together individually to create the whole. It’s
unsurprising that the fashion-forward ensembles of her SS18
collection – think petrol-coloured and patterned jumpsuits, boxy
jackets and maxi dresses with romantic drapery – are attracting
international attention.

Maksimova was born in Yakutia, northeastern Russia, where
“fashion is something incomprehensible and unattainable”. If at
all, it compares to handicraft – and to nothing you see on
international runways. She recalls receiving an encyclopaedia of
fashion; a turning point that nurtured her desire to pursue a
creative path. Keen to turn dreams into reality, she left home to
study at Novosibirsk State Academy of Architecture and Art,
majoring in costume design, and founded her namesake label.

While preparing for Harbin Fashion Week, Maksimova told us about
her unique approach to combining local traditions and high fashion,
and where she sees the contemporary Russian fashion scene




St Petersburg, Russia

Type of brand:


Where can we buy your designs?

In Moscow at Indexflat,
HHLVK and Modbrand as well as in St Petersburg at
8-store and Subbota

Tell us about your first experience with creating clothes.

At home in Yakutia, we had a big steel chest in the storage room
where my mother kept old things. At the end of each year, she gave
me something to remodel and I would change the cut and add
applications. That chest has always been my source of

Describe your label in a few words.

The slogan of my brand is “harmonious clothes that will serve
you as an ideal framing but won’t outshine your nature, your
personality and individuality”.

Who’s your ideal customer?

Mature women who are tired of stereotypes that distort reality.
They don’t buy things for momentary pleasure but want to look
behind the façade to investigate the true delight in fashion.

Where have you shown your creations so far?

In 2013, I won the young designer award at Novosibirsk Fashion
Week and was a finalist at another contest for aspiring designers
called Russian Silhouette. Since then, I have participated in St
Petersburg and Aurora fashion weeks, as well as Mercedes Benz
Fashion Week in Moscow. This year, I am also showing at Harbin
Fashion Week in China.

What has been your proudest moment?

I am most proud of my freedom and ability to create; to do what
I want to do and be surrounded by local people. This is what
motivates me to improve, enhance the quality of my designs and,
ultimately, to enjoy life.

What does your SS18 collection include?

The main element of this collection are long, traditional
yakutian dresses called “haladay”, which we wear

What does the yakutian dress look like?

It’s quite unique and a fusion of many cultural traditions.
Adapted to the polar climate, it’s easy to recognise thanks to a
distinctive fit and cut. Usually, outerwear in Yakutia is made of
natural skin and fur, while holiday dresses have a more complex
template. The front part is extended to the bottom, sleeves have
the form of a flashlight and the dress is decorated with stripes of
animal skin, fur or beads on the hem. Artisans also add metal
jewellery and pendants.

Besides your local culture, what else inspires you?

Predominantly nature. Music is always a source of inspiration
too, which can be anything from classic to hard rock. At the
moment, I’m very fond of electronic music.

What do the shapes, silhouettes, colours and details

I had a period of studying traditional Russian suits and
northern dresses. As soon as I had accumulated my knowledge, I used
my personal outlook to create the pieces. Additionally, I recreate
elements and silhouettes similar to national images.

Would you consider Russia a fashion-forward country?

We’ve always had problems with fashion and our understanding of
it. My country has its own historical way of dealing with clothing.
Yet, even though there’s no industrial base, distribution or
government support, these restrictions have in a way nurtured a
generation of new designers and interesting brands.

What needs to happen next?

The next step in this evolution should involve the creation of
shops where technologies satisfy client needs and help to analyse
requirements. That would increase the popularity of haute couture –
handmade fashion that tells a story.

Moscow or St Petersburg?

Moscow fashion events have been somewhat strange over the past
few years; it seems that many people come to show themselves rather
than pay attention to the shows. Much of it has little to do with
fashion; it’s all about money. In St Petersburg, on the other hand,
there has been no fashion at all over the last couple of years, but
a lot of new interesting brands are appearing on the scene, which
brings diversity to the fashion scene.

What other local labels should we know about?

My favourite Russian designers are Jenya Kim, Asyia Bareeva and
Julia Kondranina.

How should we spend 24 hours in St Petersburg…

I love to visit the Hermitage and contemporary art museums such
as the Erarta (in Moscow,
don’t miss Garage). As for
restaurants, try Gastrobar Duo,
Butchers Grill Bar and

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