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Designer: Maria Kazakova of Jahnkoy

Photography: Sesse Lind

Creative Director: Deborah Ferguson

Interview By: Deborah Ferguson

Model: Salomon Faye

Maria can you describe what it was like growing up in Siberia? Can you tell us about your background and what cultural influences from Siberia do you still carry now as a designer?
It was really wild, plenty of nature and freedom around. I grew up in very unique place called Akadem Gorodok, the former silicon valley of Soviet Union. I spent the summers in the village. I believe it made a great effect on my life and the way I view the world.
At what point did you decide to commit to becoming a Visual artist and RTW designer? Was it a challenge to apply and get accepted into both prestigious design colleges in the UK and America? 
It was a really long journey, it started I think when I saw a John Galliano show for Dior. I knew straight away, that’s what I want. But we didn’t really have any fashion schools in Siberia, so I had to study economics for few years. Then I went to America to work service jobs, came back, dropped out, moved to Moscow and started my path. It’s been an 8 year journey. Looking back to it, it was both miracle and hard work.
Model: Neville Rasbashan Gordon

As London is a great base for one to explore a fashion design degree, did you find any inspiration in the UK the applies to your  design mission statement now? What were some of your best experiences in London? Did you intern for any British designers?

London was really a turning point for my practice, thanks to Saint Martins and David Kappo. He helped me discover myself and showed me what I couldn’t see. I think my best experience was on the markets in Dalston The Kings Land and Shepherds Bush. It always about the people that I meet, small conversations that makes your life unique. I didn’t have chance to intern as I went straight to Parsons.

Model: Judafi Vixama

Was there a reason you chose to do the MFA course at Parsons New School over staying in Europe to attend other MFA design colleges?
It was the support they provided. I’m really glad now, as NYC is something else and Parsons MFA became my family and my home.
How long were you an MFA student at Parsons New School? At what point in this time in NYC did you confirm your mission statement/ vision for your MFA collection?
It was 2 year long journey and everything evolved naturally during that time. Vision builds up day by day. It’s never concrete it always moves and transforms. The research is the most important part. The more you learn, the more you grow.
As your collection is layered with both spiritual and political statements can you give me an idea of what the overall manifesto is?
It is really about the state of our society and as I believe things have to evolve for the better future. It is about revival of cultural heritage and consciousness of the world. The whole collection was up cycled fast fashion garments and then embellished with many hours of hand work. It carries the memory of the ancestors on the path of tomorrow.
I appreciate and love the intricate hand beaded work, craftsmanship  and use of recycled items in each outfit;  what was the sourcing process for each look?  How long did each look take to design and create? Who was part of creating each look?
I am always fascinated with the way humans used to dress around the world. The garments we used to make are so unique, intricate, rich and beautiful. Growing up in Russia I never understood what happen to people. I would go to museum and see the most amazing ancient garments from all nations and then you come out on the streets and there this badly made sportswear all around us. As I travelled, I understood it’s not just Russia, it’s everywhere. So I had to work with that. Basically I collected all the crap made by corporations and then reworked it in the way that is pleasing to my eye. We are the results of our environment. Plastic bags, car crashed soda cans, pieces of broken mirrors, secondhand sportswear, plastic animals, flags made in china, Mickey Mouse socks, knockoffs and all that surrounds us daily was my materials. And the ancient people was my goal. Of course I didn’t get us there completely but at least we moved one step closer. I got a lot of support from my friends, as each look around month to be done. I had people coming over to school to help me with beading throughout the year. I would not be able to make this collection happen without the community.

Model: Elijah Dixon

I find it inspiring the you have created a collective /team who wear your clothes, work with you etc. Can you share details about your design community? How did you meet them? what else do they do on the side?  What are some of your goals for your community?
Most of the models were the guys I met when I arrived. It is very important for me who is presenting the garments. They have to go in line with the inspiration and the message behind the clothes. It is about the whole, the character coexisting with the pieces, they create magic together. The garments are there to highlight the beauty and the power of the wearer. Most of the guys were also assisting in the creation of the garments, either mentally or physically. That makes it even stronger, as nowadays we are very distant from the people who make the clothes we wear and we do not know how these fast fashion garments are done, by who and in which conditions. My vision is that this practice will continue and the brand will be made by the community and from there we together will grow. It was truly very positive experience.
Your logo seem to be similar to the puma logo, can you describe why you chose this and what it represents? Will you use it for up coming collections? The large loin head on a puma cat body?
The whole collection is an artwork and the logo itself represents the message. It is a comment on the state of fashion industry, all the counterfeits that are targeting low-income communities and our obsession with brands. The Lion represents the heart, the consciousness and the messenger tribe. JAHNKOY means New Spirit Village in Crimean Tatar Language.
Is this collection a signature style you will evolve into other collections or would you start from a clean slate and envision another theme?
This collection is not a theme it is the proposal for the practice that can both revive handicraft and clean up the environment. So I am willing to continue and spread the message across the globe.

Model: Raheem Clother

Do you have a muse and or an artist you see in your creations? 
The men that were wearing my clothes are the muses to me. It is was my biggest reward to see how the looks shine on them. And of course I would love to collaborate with other artists, as long as we are on the same path. I would love to do project with Seun Kuti, Damian Marley, Nas, MIA and many more.
I imagine wearing your designs is a wearing a global statement, which is a a pragmatic way to utilize clothing as a billboard to inspire people to be accountable, take action. Will this be the way forward for your future collections? 
Everything you do matters, so what we wear matters too.
Your designing is art meets fashion, what do we have to look forward to from your design, visual arts community? 
More fire!

Designer: Maria Jahnkoy

Creative Director: Deborah Ferguson

Photographer: Sesse Lind

Layout Art Director: Richard Ho

Designer: Maria Jahnkoy

Film: ContentMode x Jahnkoy x Sasha Kulak

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