Before their SS16 show later this week, we visit the Fyodor Golan studio to discuss fashion as an art form, striking a balance between creativity and commerciality and keeping up with the pace of London.
Sugar, spice, and everything nice, that’s what girls, and London based label Fyodor Golan, are made of. However Fyodor Podgorny and Golan Frydman, the duo behind the brand, have more to their label than puffy pink skirts. Founding the brand in 2010, both designers – who moved to London post graduation- share fine art educational backgrounds. Giving the pair a slightly different approach to fashion design, “there’s a lot of hand drawing, development and experimentation,” Golan says, “I think with time our design being informed by our education is maybe fading away, but we definitely still use elements of what we learnt.”
The ever in flux debate of fashion design as an art form does not come into dispute with the designers, with the pair finding the discussion around the concept of defining what can be labeled as such more interesting. “What is art if you really examine the contemporary practice today? I mean if somebody can just paint a square pink, why can’t I make a dress in pink? I’m not saying everything I make is art, but what isn’t art?” Golan asks adding: “half of the Instagram accounts that I follow are art to me, and have much more interest than half of the galleries out there today. So I don’t think the real argument is is fashion art? It’s more like, what is art and what isn’t?”
Fabled for their unbridled imagination – juxtaposing fantastical patterns and colours on geometrical silhouettes –Fyodor Golan are a brand that has placed a weight of importance on creativity since its inception, pushing ideas and aesthetics to the max. Since it’s inception the label has become synonymous with high profile extroverts such as Miley Cyrus, as well as bagging major sought after collaborations with as My Little Pony. But what attracted the duo to the toy brand? “It’s the perfect example of how a piece of plastic can make you emotional and make you smile. My Little Pony suddenly makes you think of the princess that you dreamt of being at 6 years old and how much you believed there was an end to the rainbow with a pot of gold at the end”, Golan explains, “after working with all these plastic materials I wanted to bring an element that would flood the wearer with emotion and nostalgia”. But existing in an industry that commands more and more from designers, how does the pair marry creative vision with commercial viability? “For us, it’s kind of an impossible thing; you’re trying to strike that perfect balance between the creativity and commerciality which is very difficult, but we’re trying to do that. We don’t want to produce the same season again and again , that’s not why we exist,” Fydor says.
Despite describing the fast paced environment of London as difficult and a frustrating experience they are still trying to understand, living in the capitol certainly holds its perks for the designers. They are proud to call the global city their home for it’s changing, scenes, styles and ability, and label it as one of the only cities in the world able to rejuvenate itself after a certain period of time. However, Fyodor and Golan find global travel vital to their personal inspiration, citing it as adding another tone to their work. Social media, particularly Instagram, also provides as a pool of inspiration for the label. The pair like to think of the app as erasing boarders, cutting out the middle man, and almost reverting back to couture’s heyday and the origins of fashion. “During the height of couture the client would actually pick up the phone and the secretary would actually let them speak directly to Christian Dior and talk to him about raising the hem,” Golan reminisces, adding: “And now, every head designer runs his own Instagram account – well most of them do – and you suddenly get followers that can send you a message directly.”
Right now, the pair are relentless in continuing to push boundaries with more eccentric and striking garments than ever. Not willing to play the safe game, the duo, in their own words, “can’t expect everything to be really easy” as they test the extent of open-mindedness in customers and buyers alike. “It is a challenge because we get buyers coming to us after and saying: ‘Oh, well you’ve just changed completely’ and we didn’t! It’s just exactly the same aesthetic,” Fyodor explains, “It’s the same client, it’s the same girl that bought this long dress in neon pink, would now buy this midi puffy skirt in neon green. It’s just not another long dress in neon pink, you can’t expect me to make the same garment.” It is exactly these pressures on emerging designers and established labels alike that are suppressing the industry from being innovation led whilst pushing it to be development and sales orientated. Proving evermore why we need brands such as Fyodor Golan pushing against the industry demands and carving spaces to remain creative.
There is undoubtedly the imposing need to be commercial lingering in the back of their minds, but the duo are continuing to stand by their roots – as said best by Golan: “We all have to understand that this is a business, but that doesn’t mean that we have to lose every shred of soul that is behind the brand”. As they trust their instincts and stray away from becoming yet another London product-orientated niche brand, the pair are continuing to do what feels right for them, and the compliments their clients and show reviews receive alone speak for themselves.
Words by Josephine Platt & Ione Gamble
Photography by Joanna Kiely