A standout for his recent S/S 2013 collection, Sergei Grinko is marking runways with his global eye for womenswear. Russian-born, Japanese-influenced, British-educated, and with career roots in The Gulf Coast, this fashion purebred has lived a few lives, and this one in Milan has him cemented in arching materials and unrivaled designs. Reflecting his own layered journey to building his now multi-national label, Sergei Grinko captures a rare form of femininity in overlapping the ethereal and the macabre though careful decor. An in with D&G and a Vogue.it fave, learn more about the man himself, his latest collection, and why his name is one you want to know.
AG: You had an exciting Spring/Summer ’13 show in Milan. Can you speak about how you developed this collection (creative inspiration, and conceptual direction)? The collection reveals an adventurous and decadent side to presentation with ornamental elements and props…how was this season different for you from your previous work in terms of your progress as a designer and audience response?
SG: Well, the inspiration of the past S/S 2013 Collection was the movie SOLARIS based on the novel by S. Lem , adapted for the cinema in two occasion in the last 40 years, first by A. Tarkovsky and later by Sonderberg. The story was a description of an intrinsic harmony between a human being and his place of origin: the “Nature”.
But of course, the way I approach to the naturalistic theme is normally dramatic because of the proportions and the lengths, even if the collection was based on pastel and clear colors. Definitely, the response and the audience was unexpectedly positive either from the international press and or from the buyers side, starting during the fashion show with big acclamations and applause even the catwalk in the “cold and proper” Milan Fashion Week.
AG: Bespoke clothing is only half of your design work as you are fully committed to a wide range of accessories including shoes and jewelry. What is the timeline of your design work – having started out in clothing, when did you decide to branch into accessories and what provoked your interest in accessories so early on in your womenswear career?
SG: The point to me is another one: I do not distinguish between garments and accessories! To me they are both extremely useful to “decorate” my women type, so that my woman’s outfit is specifically created to embrace and define a unique sense of femininity. I have always created accessories to give voice to my necessity of 3D effect over the garments.
AG: How much of your past in Russia has influenced your design work and creative development? And what was your motivation behind a fashion career in Milan as opposed to Paris, London, Berlin, NY?
SG: I am definitely much more Japanese influenced rather than Russian, and you can clearly see by my shapes and volumes, because, even if I was born in Russia, I am from Kabarovsk, a city in front of Japan, and since I was child, during the Soviet Period too, we have always been influenced much more culturally and art’s speaking by Tokyo style than Moscow ‘s mood. But of course, I have studied the great Russian designers and I’ve always liked and attracted by Rodchenko., even if I moved out of Russia, since I was 19 Years old directly to Dubai and then for my education in London at the Central Saint Martin’s.
Finally, I moved to Italy because I met my companion, an Italian business lawyer, and together we established in Milan our Maison Sergei Grinko. Certainly, we decided to build our brand in Italy, because it’s a guarantee for the best artisanal and tailoring creations, as every high luxury fashion label in the world does to receive the certification “Made in Italy” .
AG: That being said, has being Italy and building your fashion empire in Milan, impacted the way you approach your work and life as a fashion designer? How much of your environment plays a role the work you produce?
SG: I do not guess that Italy and Milan have impacted my approach and work as a fashion creator, because I am a traveler and I pick up my inspiration everywhere, from the Londoner’s underworld, where I have a house in the East-End, right on the Thames, up to the Far East countries where I use to spend my holidays. But even from the commercial fashion cities like Milan or Paris you can learn what to create wearable and clever.
AG: What has been the greatest challenge as a fashion designer in a major fashion capital today? Competing with some of the worlds A-list legends in Italy (Valentino, Dolce Gabbana, Muccia Prada, Bottega Veneto…) do you see them as competition, inspiration or a separate category of fashion altogether?
SG: Of course, it is not possible as a young fashion Maison like Sergei Grinko to compete with big names like the ones You mentioned above, but at the same time when You see your name in the official Calendar of Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, (The Italian Chamber of Fashion), already since 6 seasons continuously, together with those names You feel very proud of the work our Company has done till today. On the other hand, we even to specify, if you do not know, that Sergei Grinko collection is sold since 3 season by Spiga2 (www.spiga2.dolcegabbana.com) an important and very selective Multibrand store owned by Dolce e Gabbana to whome we will always be grateful.
AG: How far ahead in a collection are your designers thinking? Can we get any clues as to what to expect for fall 2013? Or spring 2014?
SG: Well. See my PreFall 2013-2014 collection attached.
AG: What does the label “Made In Italy” mean to you, and how do you see it has changed in recent years? As a non-native Italian, do you feel inclined to stay connected with this mark?
SG: To me “Made in Italy” means a mixture of craftman and peculiarity which only the producing country, where I am staying, can give to my creations. It’s not ony the materials or the capabilities, that you can find here which are relevant, but it is the special touch and the “allure” coming from the Italian laboratories which is unique in the world of luxury goods.
AG: What are your favorite materials to work with, and will we see a continuous use of any one particularly material throughout your collections? In other words, what would you confirm as your “signature” material/look if there is one.
SG: As You can see from my creations I like to mix any kind of material and fabric, from the precious up to the plastic or synthetic ones. The importance in my work is my necessity with materials or shapes to represent correctly my sense of 3D effect.
AG: Do you find yourself wrapped up in the industry in terms of competition, are you in tune with the latest work and designs out there, and if so, do you find yourself influenced by the fashion media, icons, etc?
SG: I am definitely not obsessed by competition in the fashion industry. I think that there are many good designers in the world and everyone can have his/her audience.
AG: You have stores throughout Italy (Brescia, Rome, Milan) and also in London now – are you particularly focused on developing one market – where would you like to expand your label next?
SG: Well, my partner Filippo Cocchetti and I are planning to find a strong distribution in North and South America Countries, having just signed a franchising agreement for China market.
AG: Fashion so often intertwined or inspired by art, film, music, architecture…and for many of your designs – storytelling, historical content, abstract art perhaps.What are some elements of inspiration you draw from for creative exploration (politics, economics, nature, literature, science)?
SG: Definitely, I am very far from politics and economic matters, because I have never been involved in them directly, but I have a strong admiration for the nature and its aspects. I use to spend entire days, watching documentaries or in the libraries to read books based on botanical aspects.
AG: What are some things you have learned as a designer from your debut in early 2007 through now?
SG: Well, I started in the mid of the 90’, working in a atelier for the Royal Families of the Gulf, and I have learned that women do not want to dress up because they want to show their garments, but because, they want to improve their beauty. Therefore, clothes and accessories I have to create should not be nice for themselves, but help the woman becoming much more beautiful and grateful.
AG: Who is your audience in mind when developing a collection, and does it change? Do you immagine Italian women, or Russian women, or American women, or a particularly kind of woman when envisioning a new collection?
SG: No I do not have a stereotype of woman, I mean Italian ,Russian, of American, when I start to design the collection, I have my Sergei Grinko woman which is a strong elegant and sophisticated but always ironic one.
AG: . When did you decide to commit 100% to your career in fashion, and have you ever doubted your decision. If you were not in fashion, what might you see yourself doing for a career otherwise?
SG: I’ve always wanted to make fashion since I was a child when I used to create garments and accessories, for my entire family, but I am not considering myself as a fashion designer only, because, I have worked and designed interiors, and home accessories too. I must do my job, because, I am not able to do something else, and this is the only way to proceed my internal expressiveness.
AG: What is a typical day in the life of Sergei?
SG: Well, I use to get up around 8.30 a.m, having a large breakfast, go to my atelier, meeting my helpers, premiéres, and suppliers during all day long, around 7.00p.m. go to the gym and spending the rest of the evening with my companion.
(*Original post for Catwalk Yourself)
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