New Threads: Ypsilon

Get to know Russian brand Ypsilon and take a first look at their AW16 lookbook.

Hi Yulia! You’ve got your hands in many creative baskets- photography, journalism, design… which would you say is your true calling?

I believe, photography is my true love. I’m very passionate about almost every aspect of photography. I’ve studied photojournalism. For my final project, I did a story about Christian Communities in Jerusalem. I went there during two years and photographed pilgrims of various Christian confessions. I was totally consumed by this work. In 2012 the project won The Sunday Times emerging talent contest and was published online. Seeing things through photography gives me immense pleasure. However, at one stage photography wasn’t enough to communicate. So I decided to study journalism, where I took TV pathway. I’m also interested in moving image a lot. But somehow, TV disappointed me, maybe in a way that it lacked creativity and aesthetics. I’m a very visual person and I always searching for beauty. Later I’ve discovered the world of fashion photography, where you can manipulate the picture, express your artistic vision and communicate ideas more freely. And now I’m very new to the fashion design world, but I’m happy that different arts can be used in fashion, music, photography, video art. After all, for me it’s all about beauty and liberation through self expression.

You grew up and still live in Russia. How would you say that has influenced the work you produce?

Until recently we haven’t use any «national» attributes in our collections. Therefore, our product is Russian only in a way that it’s produced by Russian people. But a few months ago we’ve started a research for our capsule collection, and the main reference there is Russian Vkhutemas school and it’s connections to German Bauhaus. I think we have a lot more to explore in our own culture.

You didn’t study fashion design, learning everything from scratch must have been a challenge! Tell us about your experience?

Fashion design is a very particular field of work and you need a lot of technical knowledge. But it’s not rocket science, I guess when you have a strong vision and a professional team everything comes together. I know how to do my research, and the research process doesn’t differ much in various creative fields. Many technical skills nowadays, can be replaced by technology. I mean sketches can be replaced by digital collages or photographs. If you can communicate your ideas, it doesn’t really matter how you do it. Of course, I would love to know more about different design methods and techniques, more about fashion history. I’d love to take a course in fashion design in the future, if I’ll have a chance. I’m actually quite an academic person, I love studying.

Tell us about why you decided to pursue a brand… How was Ypsilon born?

We did our first dress in 2014, it was for my sister’s University project. It was a hand-painted asymmetrical dress, actually really cool one. We spent half of a night doing the pattern. Soon after we decided that we have to start a brand. We agreed that in a couple of months, when I’m back from the internship at Dazed and Confused, we’ll make our first collection. So during these two moths we were exchanging ideas, mood boards, it all was more of our secret game. Then I came back, we really did the collection. It was very spontaneous, we had a lot of fun. We presented it on a big music festival market in Moscow. And the girls liked our stuff. We sold almost everything in that two days. We had a different name back than. The word Ypsilon came later.

You spent five years studying in London. How did you find that? How does London differ from Russia?

I had a great time in London, it’s so very vibrant, just an amazing place for a creative person, especially for someone who works in fashion.. You get so much inspiration on the streets, in night clubs. You just go and see how people are dressed and find your ideas out there. Also, you have so many creative professionals arounds you, it’s easy to communicate and exchange ideas. Moscow is more aggressive and the pace of life is so fast. So, I sometimes miss London, especially the fact that you can walk around your area and visit a few art galleries, a pub and a music concert all in one evening. In Moscow you really need to plan everything in advance, because places are so much spread out. But still Moscow is one of my favorite cities.

What was the concept behind the lookbook?

Grand Opening was inspired by the 50’s movies aesthetic, the red carpets, Hollywood, and so on. We wanted to create a very feminine, but contemporary collection. It was our first work together with Emelie Hultqvist, she’s a stylist from Sweden. So the collection got a Scandinavian touch to it as well. Specially for this collection we produced concept porcelain jewelery line (this beautiful white flowers which can be used as a necklace or the bracelet). We made them in collaboration with Fjord, a jewellery brand from Moscow.

Who were you designing for this AW16?

We’re designing for a progressive, intelligent woman, she’s pro-active and always in search for self-development. But at the same time she’s very feminine and sensible.

You work closely with your sister, who is in charge of Ypsilon’s basic line. How is that? Any sibling disagreements?

My sister is still studying, she’s doing graphic design and she’s on her final year. So we don’t spend that much time together. We’re just discussing major concepts. And we have much independency within the brand, she’s doing the basic items, in her free time, and I’m perfectly happy with that. I do the main collection. Of cause it’s impossible to avoid disagreements during the work process. But we’ve managed well so far.

Do you get a day off from all of the work you do?! What do you do when you’re not designing?

When I’m off from work I would go to a yoga, class , or a music event or an art gallery, or just watch TV series. Also love traveling. I’m having a real vacation in a long time, so next month I’m going to LA with my friend. Super-excited about that. Traveling always gives me new ideas.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

To find a good quality fabric in Moscow is a real challenge. We’ve travelled to Italy and visited factories there, but euro is so expensive now. So we’ve started to work more with Chinese factories, some of which can provide a very high quality fabrics, comparable to the Italian. It’s a real challenge to find good fabric for a good price. To have them on time for the collection to be produced is another problem. It’s hard to plan everything in order for the collection to be produced and distributed to the stocks on time. It is a real challenge not only for us, but, I guess, for many designers in Russia. Our retailers complain that they have collections too late. This are the main challenges to overcome.

You have four collections under your belt now- how would you say each one has progressed? Do they all have a distinct theme?

Each collection was different in the way we approached it. Our two first collections were very small, they actually were just a few pieces of clothes put together in a look book. The third one was already more solid conceptually, also it had more technically complicated garments, like overcoats. The last one «Grand opening collection» to me is the more sophisticated of all four collections, in terms of color combinations and subtlety of silhouettes, and complexity of the production. As I’ve already mentioned, we enjoyed the experience of working with an invited stylist, Emelie Hultqvist. It’s very useful for the brand, at this very stage, to have a professional opinion form someone outside of the team. This season Ypsilon embarks on a new experimental project. This April we’ve invited Pavel An, a designer, who worked for a long time with David Koma, to work with us on our capsule collection. We’re really exited about this collaboration and we’re sure we could gain immensely in this experience exchange, both personally and professionally.

Masha Mel
Emelie Hultqvist
Hair & Makeup
Kate Mur using Ellis Faas for make-up and Christophe Robin for hair
Varya Shilova @ Nik management
Metropol Hotel, Moscow
Francesca Lee