I’m at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, about to take off for Moscow when I get a message on my phone: “See you in a couple of hours @bizz lounge! Ilja.” I quickly write back: “No delays this end, I’ll see you there at 16:15!” It’s perfect: I was trying to arrange a meeting with Ilja Shiyan, one of Russia’s leading fashion designers, and it turned out that he is taking a flight to Turkey just a few hours after I land at Domodedovo Airport. So I’m having my first meeting before even leaving the airport!
Domodedovo Airport is crazy busy when I arrive and I’m happy that we are meeting in one of the quieter business lounges. Ilja immediately spots me when I walk in and waves from a distance. “Hi Katja! Great to meet you!” he says. “I’ve ordered us tea with snacks!”
As I settle into an armchair, I ask Ilja what he’s going to do in Turkey. “I actually live there part-time as most of my partners are in Istanbul. I also work with partners in other countries.” The Shiayn brand has a growing popularity in Russia: Ilja mainly focuses on leather products, but also designs T-shirts, underwear and other accessories.
“So do you see a big difference between the Russian fashion scene and the European market?”
“Not really. The more I travel, the more I realize how small the differences are – I mean in general between people and countries, but also in the fashion scene. It doesn’t make sense anymore to look at fashion trends from a local perspective: it’s global.”
“Do you see the Russian market as influenced by Europe?”
“Absolutely, the Russian fashion scene is now catching up with the Europeans: the market is flooded with new labels and trends. People blindly follow the fashion trends. But at the same time, there are lots of talented designers creating great quality designs and I believe that will be the future. Russians will learn to develop their own taste and choose specific styles and looks.”
Our tea arrives and as Ilja pours me a cup I suddenly notice he is wearing a jacked from this latest collection that was presented at Moscow Fashion Week. ““Hey nice jacket!” I say. “What is the material though? It’s not leather is it?”
“Thanks! No, you’re right, it’s a combination of fish skin and wool.”
“That’s unusual! Do you often work with such combinations and unusual fabrics?
“Actually, yes,” says Ilja. “But I’m not doing it just for the sake of catching attention – my goal is not to use unusual or expensive fabrics to create an ultra-trendy designs. Rather I want to reflect the more complex character of my designs, which is also based on my own personality. This is why I combine materials in my design to reflect duality. All my collections attempt to reflect a conflicting world in which we live. To me the most important is that the collections remain true to my personal beliefs and values.”
Ekaterina Rogova for CoolBrands