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Unleashing the Abstract Beauty of Botanics | A Q & A with Tina Mona Cohen


Text by Irina Rusinovich 

Unleashing the Abstract Beauty of Botanics | A Q & A with Tina Mona Cohen

Born in 1988 in the south of France, Tina Mona is a self-taught French artist living for 6 years in Germany where she has her atelier. Always deeply attracted and connected to the cultural world, she first managed artistic and cultural projects before she decided to trust her creative talent and fully live her artistic vocation.  Her work is deeply inspired by nature but also a meditative way to express herself. 

Always experimenting with different techniques, she mixes media such as acrylic, oil painting, gold leaves, and resin, allowing her to play with the light and give her artwork a sense of vibrancy and life. 

After a solo exhibition in Paris in 2022, Tina Mona is participating 2023 in multiple group exhibitions in Germany. Her works will be also shown at the collective Art Exhibition “ WILD SOULS“ starting 22.06. We decided to ask Tina a few questions about her background and arts!

What inspired you to incorporate botanical themes into your abstract artwork in the first place?

Nature is both all around us and deep within us, we are inseparable from it. However, too often we forget our connection to our own inner nature and get drowned by the troubles of the world. After experiencing a deep trauma, art helped me to rebuild myself and painting became a mediative way to learn how to be true to my real nature.
I want my art to remind every viewer that we should respect the nature all around us but also the nature within us and raise awareness about mental Health.

How do you approach incorporating organic elements such as leaves, flowers, and other materials into your pieces?

I find a lot of inspiration in nature. During long walks in the forest, I try to practice mindfulness and to be aware of the nature around me and that´s when I really absorbed a lot of inspiration. I am often inspired by the colors of unusual elements like the inside of a stone, a broken branch, the moss on the trees, the movements of the leaves, and the reflection of the sun… Nature brings me a lot of joy and comfort and intuitively it finds its way into my painting.

Do you have any particular botanical motifs or themes that frequently appear in your abstract works?

Through my painting, I invite the viewer to a peaceful walk in the forest where he could contemplate the vegetation above him, and feel nature in movement and the reflection of the light in it.

© Tina Mona Cohen 

How do you balance the organic forms of botanical elements with the more abstract forms that characterize much of your work?

I apply multiple layers of paint, notably light shades of white, which manage to maintain a lightness, a weightlessness in my representations of shapes and colors that end up being quite buoyant. I often mix media in my painting using acrylic, and oil paint but also gold leaves and epoxy. This gives me the possibility to play with the light and give the artwork a sense of vibrancy and life.


Can you describe your process for developing the color palettes used in your work, especially those inspired by flora and fauna?

When I am painting, I enter a meditative state, I will not have a predefined pattern, but I am simply focusing on the colors. Rather than trying to make shapes, I focus on a small number of colors that I want to use, then just place dots onto the canvas with my paintbrush before using the brush to swirl these dots into one another, letting totally my intuition guide my painting. Often, I use different shades of blue colors as a reference to my Mediterranean roots.

© Tina Mona Cohen 

Have you noticed any changes in how viewers interpret your work when botanical themes are present as opposed to when they are absent?

Botanical themes are speaking to everybody and the abstract side of my painting help to build a connection with the viewer and leaves room for interpretation.


Do you have any plans for future explorations of botanical themes in your work, or any plans to change your approach?

I always love to experiment with new techniques and media, that’s helping me to constantly develop my work. The only limit is my creativity!

I am currently working on developing relief effects and transparency in my art. I am experimenting with resin, and trying to incorporate paint directly in multiple layers of epoxy creating artwork on the border between painting and sculpture.


Follow Tina on Instagram for her updates and news! 

© Tina Mona Cohen 

A STUDIO VISIT: Exploring the artistic process with Marina Koldobskaya


Text by Irina Rusinovich 

A STUDIO VISIT: Exploring the artistic process with Marina Koldobskaya

Can you tell us about your creative process, from the moment you come up with an idea to the finished painting?

I have a number of motifs that are important to me, which I have been working on for many years. These are motifs that express something important, something basic to human beings. They have become stamps, mastered by popular culture, and I work with these stamps.

The red bull, for example, means power, masculine intensity, and aggression, but also a sacrifice, meat. It is with human beings from the Paleolithic cave to the label on the bottle of wine „Bull’s blood. Or the rose. It has been painted for thousands of years because it is a vagina, a symbol of seduction, desire, and pleasure. Blue flowers mean peace, oblivion, and heaven.

The cat and mouse – murderer and victim, nature’s indifference, „life is life.“

I do not paint real things, I try to create a kind of sign, a symbol of the experiences they evoke, to express visually Plato’s idea of these things.

Cézanne once said that painting is thinking with a brush in hand. That’s how I stand over my canvases or papers with a brush and ponder. I make endless versions, variations, and transformations… I repaint, and start over to make the image more precise, and more expressive. And simpler. It’s very difficult to make it simple. It is like calligraphy – you have to practice it for a long time, for years, in order to complete your artwork very quickly, with a few spontaneous movements, easily, powerfully, and beautifully. I am not afraid of beauty, unlike many artists today. Plato’s idea has to be beautiful.

Photo Credit / Johannes Pol 

How do you integrate or address environmental and social themes in your artwork?

The themes come by themselves. There’s the war that Russia runs against Ukraine, it’s horrible, people are dying, and my paintings are getting red, just streams of blood flooding the paintings. And there is a lot of black. And I also started painting people. Before, people as such were not my subject. Of course, my flowers and animals were anthropomorphic, but that was about the unity of all creation, the reflection of everything in everything.

And now in my works, people are exactly people, human beings, as they are. They are alive, wounded, dead, singly, in crowds, whole, and torn into pieces…

Can you walk us through a current project you’re working on and share your goals for the piece?

My latest series is about humans being a sick, insane animals. A crazy ape with a gun…

We are creatures who have created a brave new world and don’t know what to do with it. Scared to death of ourselves. People are simultaneously building a bright future and tearing themselves back into the cave. It seems that people today are losing ground under their feet faster than they are finding new ground.

I left Russia, and I last year was working on a series Migrants. It’s about the loss or change of identity, of homeland, of destiny.

The series I’m doing now has no name yet, for myself, I call it Primates for now. They are such incomprehensible creatures, like monkeys, or dolls, or children, or monsters… and at the same time, their composition should refer to recognizable examples of high art.

Marina Koldobskaya and Irina Rusinovich , Photo Credit / Johannes Pol 

What role do you think art plays in society, and how do you hope your work contributes to that dialogue?

For several months now, my colleagues and I have been preparing a joint exhibition of women artists from Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, it calls Heartbeat, at Wolf&Galentz gallery. Finding like-minded people was not easy, many friends said that in today’s atmosphere of mutual hatred and suspicion, we would be eaten alive.  And that there would simply be no artists who would agree to participate.

But I think it’s very important to do an exhibition like this, precisely because it’s an attempt to confront the hatred that’s all around us. And I’m very glad we have found like-minded people and support from the gallery, we help and support each other, we are our own authors and curators, we decide everything together, and we cooperate despite the war – this is the most important result.

Photo Credit / Johannes Pol 

What are some upcoming projects or shows you’re most excited about?

This is the „Heartbeat“ exhibition I mentioned earlier.

Now people are overwhelmed with pain, it has to find a way out. It has been a year of horror, shame, despair, waiting, hope… None of us has ever had this experience of collective distress. Different artists look for different ways to express these experiences in their art. Straightforward experiences are long forgotten – crying, wailing, praying – are returning to art now. Perhaps it’s a bit awkward and even ugly, now is not the time for good taste and finesse.

I don’t think art is capable of fully embracing this experience at once. A new aesthetic will come, it’s already coming. It’s impossible for an artist to do anything else these days. For me for sure.


Follow Marina at FB  and Instagram 

Interview with Vadim Vasilis


Vadim Vasilis  /photo , Issa Tall /   text,  Irina Rusinovich

Interview with the Paris-based model Vadim Vasilis
What does it take to be a model today? How does one get there, how does one keep fit and stay inspired? We have talked to Vadim Vasilis, a French-Greek model in Paris, about what drives him, and what he is working on at the moment
What made you want to become a model?

I came back from Bulgaria where I was doing a training course before the soccer season, in full questioning and psychological fatigue, I returned to Greece, where I realized that I had reached my limits concerning my career in soccer.

When I came back, I told myself that I was going to refocus on my goals, and it was at that moment, during a party in Greece, that a lady asked me if I was interested in fashion and I confess that I had never thought about it before. From then on, my view on what I wanted to do with my life changed, I said to myself why not, I wanted to change my life, I was no longer happy in what I was doing in the past, I was tired and worn out of this life while another one opened its arms to me.

Vadim Vasilis, photo Fabien Caudy

Being an international model, how has your life changed? 

I’m just starting out, whether it’s international or not, I for one haven’t seen or experienced anything, I still have everything to prove, but regardless you have to give it your best shot.

I suppose that the international would make me spend more time in transport and that I would have to work more on my dark circles with the jet lag.

No more jokes, the international induces the knowledge of the habits and customs of the different countries I will travel to in order to adapt myself, but always in the spirit of staying true to who I am.


You are from Greece, what are your 3 favorite places in your country and why?

My mountain in the Peloponese, a dry, arid place in the middle of nowhere, without any comfort. I lived there for part of my childhood with my grandparents. It is an isolated, rustic place with a mystical atmosphere, it is where everything started for me, I was marked by this period of my life and it is the basis of what I embody today.

 The various creeks near the family village in the Argolid I learned to swim, to fish following the example of my father who fished octopus, various fish and shellfish with his harpoon. In the evening, we would stay by the sea in a „caliva“, a small wooden hut that a close friend of my father had, where we would grill our catch of the day while watching the sun set.

The family village in Greece had this summer atmosphere, where we ate meals together, where I was constantly invited to eat everywhere, an active lifestyle, from getting up in the morning where I liked to go with my uncles, to the goats and sheep in the mountains, to our time spent at the beach. Soccer games would be set up when the temperature started to drop, then going home, showering outside with the hose, and finally going for a walk in the evening.

Vadim Vasilis, photo Issa Tall

How do you maintain your physique?

Sport and a healthy lifestyle!  I mainly do cardio to lengthen the muscles and draw on stored fat, I supplement a little with muscle strengthening.

My background in sports allows me to know what I need to work on. But for the time being, I do a lot less weight training than before, the goal is to be slim but not thick, so for that I exercise with much lighter weights. And I do long sets.

What brand would you like to work with in the future?

Very interesting question! There are a lot of artists I would like to work with:

Marine Serre for her esoteric and mystical touch

Balenciaga for the underground side

Jean-Paul Gaultier because he manages to make harmonious what is scattered.

But many others, Vivienne Westwood, undercover, Ambush, in fact I have so many brands that correspond to my way of being and my universe, even young designers that many ignore for the moment, but who are so talented.

We all have our difficulties to accomplish our goals, what are yours?

My impatience above all.

I admit that I am a difficult character to understand, I am my true and proper enemy, but also my true and proper brother. Everything is paradoxical about me.

I am a character who is always thinking, intense, and complicated to temper, my sensitivity often has the upper hand on me, but I will manage to tame it.

Vadim Vasilis, photo Raphael de l´Orme

Can you tell us the funniest or most interesting anecdote that happened to you since you became a model ?

That’s not a simple question, because there is really a lot of intensity in this business, so much movement, everything is ephemeral except, of course, some of the encounters you can make, but unfortunately I don’t have anything else that comes to mind right now.

You have a lot of tattoos, tell us about your three favorites.

I do have a lot of tattoos, all of them have their meaning, but it’s my secret garden 😉

I remain very mysterious and modest about some things concerning me, I reveal myself with time to people who inspire me, I trust my intuition, however my body is a rebus, when you know a little my life, my essence, you can try to play with what you see, but I remain intimate.

Is it an obstacle to have so many tattoos on your body as a model?

Yes and no, it depends on the artistic direction, the designer, the work required. It can be a brake as the opposite, but it is the game, after that it depends also on what you give off as energy, it is a whole. But you need something for everyone, you just have to be subtle.

What is your work rhythm at the moment?

Intense, at the very moment I’m writing this interview, I’m on various things at the same time, it’s not easy, you have to be organized and of course very well accompanied and I thank Nadine Dinter who takes care of my image today, who is there for me, who helps me, supports me, gives me a lot of advice, I thank life for having put Nadine on my way, it’s an encounter from elsewhere and I think we will be brought to collaborate for a long time on several projects.

             Vadim for @stephanethakid Paris 2022                                                                                                                           Paris 2022Vadim for @gillesasq, Paris 2022

How do you relax?

It is difficult for a hyperactive person like me to relax…

I’m always thinking about different things, I always have ideas in my head, I’m full of desire and energy, to go ahead, to work, to do sports, to discover, so to relax is not an easy task, even when I take a break I feel like I’m wasting my time.

But I will have time to relax when I have accomplished what I have to accomplish…

For the moment I am in full work, no time to sleep.

What are your current/upcoming projects?

I have a lot of projects going on: magazines, advertising campaigns, fashion week to prepare. It’s an environment where you have to be reactive at the moment…

The universe is vast, it’s up to me to make the right choices and to be receptive and attentive to the signs of life.

Follow Vadim on IG at @vadimvasilis

Interview with photographer Alexander Platz


Text by Lyubov Melnickowa

Interview with photographer Alexander Platz

Tell us a little about yourself. As an art photographer, you have a very unusual background. Please tell our readers more about it.

My name is Alexander Platz and I was born in Berlin. In 1984, when I was nineteen, I joined the Berlin police force. At the time, I had no exposure to art whatsoever. I loved the training and the job, because I enjoyed working with people back then, too.

My first encounter with creative work came in the nineties, when I wrote novels and short stories, as a kind of contest, with friends who worked as actors. This is also how I got started working as a consultant, training actors for their roles, while still continuing my police work. One of my friends was the antagonist in the police series “Die Wache”. Later, I completed a project on “Operational Training for the Berlin Riot Police”. Here, I was the idea generator, scriptwriter and director, and was responsible for the production and presentation of a 15-minute film about the results.

In the meantime, as a fully fledged police officer, I devoted several years to pursuing my conventional career with the police. In 2004, after a work-related accident (resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder), I found my way to photography, quite by chance. I fought against the trauma-related flashbacks by taking photos that formed new images in my head and helped me find my way back to my emotions. I had absolutely no idea about photographic techniques and wasn’t interested in them. I just wanted to take photos, and was on the „hunt for my inner self“. During this time, I only learned the techniques that I really needed. My pictures from this period always had a sombre aspect. My works included portraits, nudes, erotic studies, dance photography at the Friedrichstadt-Palast revue theatre in Berlin, and portraits of boxers. Sometimes, I think I’ve always been searching for human biographies, encounters and experiences through my work, to learn more about life.

Upcycling Fashion

In 2016, it occurred to me that with my people photography I’d dabbled in just about everything except fashion. I’m not a fan of talking about things that I’ve never delved into before. So the first thing I did was start researching, and I emersed myself in this via YouTube. I asked myself how I could combine fashion photography with my interest in people and their expression.

Because I want to be independent in my work, I decided to go against the traditional path of working with designers and stylists.  I wanted to develop my own interpretation of people and fashion in my photographic world and find my personal visual language.

By happy chance, I stumbled upon a documentary about “anti-fashion” and “grunge”. I’m also a big fan of the English “mod” subculture and its development through to today. There are many facets of the world of fashion that can be traced back to these influences. I could identify with a lot of this, since my own style of dress and my lifestyle are based on this subculture. And so, the idea of using this as a starting point began to grow.

As I browsed through Berlin’s second-hand shops and bought clothes; I learned everything I could about what interested me and about fashion. I used, and still do use, international magazines, YouTube documentaries, books and interviews. And then I started the photographic work. This is how the visual language and aesthetics that I still use today came into being.

At the same time, I was also working on my “My Japanese Faction” project. Here, I was able to process my fascination with Japanese aesthetics, my enthusiasm for Yoshi Yamamoto, Nobuyoshi Araki, Takeshi Kitano and the Japanese samurai period. My fascination is fuelled by the pervasive interaction between the exterior and the internal feelings in Japanese history and the present day.

All these experiences come together in my current upcycling project: “Fairy Tale Dreams”.

In 2010, I left the police force and focussed entirely on photography and art. 

As a self-taught artist, I was admitted to the Professional Association of Visual Artists Berlin (bbk) in 2019, and so recognised as a professional artist.

In the meantime, I find it artistically exciting and fulfilling to blend all aspects of photography, art and design.

My current project, “Fairy Tale Dreams”, is the canvas for this. Here, everything flows together. Photography, fashion, upcycling design, and painting for set design.

All of this is what led me to take part in the Haze Bazaar in March 2023.

Upcycling Fashion

From 1993 to 1996, you studied public law at the Berlin School of Economics and Law. Why didn’t you opt to study art? Do you have plans to do this in the future? Do you think that a photographer needs some kind of formal education?

My studies took place while I was still active in the police force and they served to advance my police career. I had no involvement with photography or art at the time. However, a lot of what I learned was, and continues to be, useful to me in my artistic development. Organisation, research and scientific work are all brought to bear in my development. I used these skills to work my way into every topic, and I came up with results on both a rational and emotional level. Actually, it was a self-organised course of study.

This has both advantages and disadvantages. The network and content that a traditional art course offers were missing. I work hard on this, however, in parallel to my actual work. On the other hand, my actual degree, and also my work as a teacher at the police academy, are an advantage when it comes to structured planning and communication with my project partners and the preparation of exhibitions.   

But doing a traditional course in art or photography was something that never occurred to me. My medium, photography, and the development of the internet made it possible for me to choose my own direction and to evolve. These days, I’m so deeply involved in my development that I won’t take a university degree course.

I think that training or a degree in photography can be important. It’s good if someone is interested in that and goes ahead with it. Photography and art are so extensive that you can learn many things that you won’t learn if you’re self-taught. On the other hand, teaching yourself allows you to determine everything yourself and to put all your energy into pursuing your own ideas and dreams.

But, whether you choose the classical or the autodidactic path, a good foundation of discipline is necessary to keep moving forward and learning. 

I think it’s great that today we have the option of choosing our own path.      

Your work depicts women. Why women? Do you think it’s easier to convey the beauty of a female image in photography than a male one?

I do photograph men, too, such as dancers, boxers, actors and other creative people. 

But my main focus in on working with women. For me, they symbolise the very origin of life. In many of my fashion works, you can see the female breast. This isn’t so much erotic as symbolic of this aspect of women’s lives as a beginning and as self-confidence, and it supports the overall expression of the works. Women are closer to their emotions and more courageous in interpreting and displaying them when working in front of the camera. Our work together is mostly a “dance”, in that there aren’t many set poses. In fashion photography, I apply the experience I gained in dance and boxing photography. For me, it’s a search for that “unexpected moment”.  We follow each other. And in doing so, we challenge each other in our respective roles. It’s a highly concentrated process. Quite often, I’m physically and mentally exhausted after a photo shoot. This way of working together so freely is what gives the photographs the special expression that reflects my idea of beauty, aesthetics and female self-confidence. I love this process.

With men, the projects are also very intensive, but working with women is closer to my heart and more fulfilling.

Upcycling Fashion

Your works have a certain style. How did this style take shape?

Because my first steps in photography were taken alone and without any rules, I was initially particularly fascinated by the Surrealists and Dadaists of the 1920s and their approach to images. The freedom of Dadaism and Surrealism gave me space to experiment and develop. The expression and effect of a work were more important to me than the classical photographic process. The camera is, and remains, simply a kind of pen or brush that I can use to capture whatever fascinates me. It was in 2007, when I worked on a project in the Friedrichstadt-Palast in Berlin with the ensemble, that the idea of the “unexpected moment” took hold of me for the first time. That fraction of a second, in which you capture the perfect position in a sequence of movement. Thanks to my “stage photography”, I learned to “feel” or anticipate the moment just before this perfect position and to take that shot. I continued to improve this skill in my later work in boxing.

A further aspect, here, is my continuous learning. During my many years of research and image analysis, I found my own style. One of my self-selected “professors” was the celebrated Diana Vreeland. She said: “The eye has to travel!” To paraphrase: as a photographer, you can be anything but don’t be boring!

All these various aspects allowed me to find my style. I’m curious about how it will continue to develop and excited to see where the next few years will take me.

What’s the most important aspect of photography for you?

The freedom to realise and portray my ideas. To give them a material form. In preparation and implementation as well as in the subsequent retouching. It always moves me forward and allows me to learn more in order to express my feelings. Here, I’m guided only by myself. I reject all forms of dogma and ideology. I celebrate self-fulfilment through the freedom of art.

And I love meeting and working with people.

You teach photography at the Community College Berlin Treptow Köpenick. What motivated you to start teaching?

Since I’ve dedicated myself to artistic photography and have never undertaken any commercial work, ensuring the financial viability of my projects is a major issue. Teaching allowed me to earn part of my budget. I knew from my past endeavours that teaching was something I enjoyed. So, as well as benefitting from the financial aspect, I found the teaching very stimulating and a distraction from everyday life.

These courses also give me an incentive to keep learning and to keep evaluating the courses. My students include both amateurs and professionals. In the lessons, their thoughts also provide me with new perspectives. It’s a give and take situation for all concerned.

All this motivates me, time and time again.

What do you think is the most important thing students can learn from your lessons?

The world of photography and art is so multifarious. I introduce them to my world of photography, my ideas and my imagination, to expand their vision. There’s no right or wrong. It’s all about their development. “Why do I take photographs?” “What subject really interests me?” “How can I follow my chosen path?” “How can I find and maintain enjoyment in it?”

I try to expand their outlook, to arouse their curiosity.

To link everything together and not to think one-sidedly in genres.

I’d like them to leave the course with a sense of great curiosity and freedom and to follow their own personal path.

As I’ve been teaching since 2018, I’ve received quite a bit of feedback over the years. My students love this approach. Some of them keep coming back to my courses because they can’t find anything with similar content and they want to keep learning.

Do your works have a message? What thoughts do you want them to evoke?

That’s a difficult question. Because my works are always a result of my current thoughts, feelings and inspirations. And the interpretation of the performer is usually a factor, too. 

I don’t think I aim to evoke any particular thoughts. It’s more a matter of emotional reactions and interpretation. Thoughts tend to take second place here.

Each of us has a different biography, world of experience, and interpretation. This is why I’d like viewers to feel an emotional connection to the work in the first instance. This could be positive or negative. The most important thing is the emotional reaction.

Here, too, I work from the premise of the freedom of the individual. I’m always delighted when viewers share their reactions with me and we can discuss them.

Tell us about your creative plans for the future? 

I want to continue developing my “Fairy Tale Project”. There’s still so much to discover there. At the moment, I’m working with Islamic women on a project about Islamic fashion and the “hijab”.

Every day, a new idea materialises, and I write it down in a small book. 

I’m also heavily involved in the current discussion about nudity in art and the public arena. For me, a tendency toward restriction is emerging, moving toward a “phase of apparent moral prudishness”.

I have a project in mind, which would involve exploring this and would bring together and interpret the aspects of nude photography, erotic photography and pornography on an artistic level. 

The working title is “Por-nu-graphy?!”, derived from the terms pornography and nude. But these works, too, will take a subtle rather than an “in your face” approach.

And then, I’m always busy interpreting my ideas on the English subculture of the sixties and seventies in photographic terms.

So, I still have quite a lot of plans and hope to be able to bring them all to fruition.

Interview with a petite model – Yvonne


Photo: Dominik Wolf

Text: Lyubov Melnickowa

Interview with a petite model - Yvonne
Please tell us a little about yourself. At what point did you decide that you wanted to become a model? How did your modeling career start?
Being a model for me means being creative. As I ́ve always been a person with a love for creativity, aesthetics, fashion and faces, living the model life has always attracted me. I started my career around two years ago with my first shooting which was a beauty shooting with an amazing photographer. I still love to work with her today and she had a really great impact on me and my career, because she always had useful tips and recommendations and really sees the uniqueness of each model she works with. Since then I have learned to get to know the industry better and was able to gain experiences and build a network step by step.
What does your normal day look like?
What I love about my life – no day looks like the other. I spend some days of my week at different sets and locations in different cities, some days I am at home doing sports, reading or planning the next trips or jobs and other days I am at my university or study for my different courses. I feel really thankful that I am able to live a life that is this colourful and diverse and that I am allowed to always meet inspiring people and visit amazing places, as well as having the privilege to study in Munich.

Photo: Mariia Ziva

Photo: Alessa

Photo: Ambra Alessi

You are studying medicine, at the same time shootings takes a lot of time and effort. How do you combine work of the model and study?
I think being organized and prioritizing what is important to you is key. I always try to keep my calendar updated and try to be as time efficient as possible. Of course it doesn’t always work out and I had some job I couldn’t do as a model, because of an important exam or course. Even though it sometimes is stressful, I wouldn’t want to change a thing, because for me both is important in order to keep the balance between creativity and science.
What can you tell us about the competition among models.
Modeling is a really competitive business. Of course everyone wants to book the job or get signed by their favourite agency. I learned to take nothing personal real quick. There’s also a lot of rejection and criticism, which is not always only constructive. But I always try to learn something from it and move on. Maybe you’ve heard some model coaches preach you shouldn’t make modeling your personality and I totally agree with that.
What difficulties have you encountered while working as a model? Was there a desire to quit everything?
For me it was and sometimes still is difficult to be booked, especially for fashion jobs or magazines as a petite model. The industry is changing and getting more diverse to some degree, nonetheless especially in the field of high fashion there are very specific requirements. But quitting was never an option for me! I love being a model and I think if you work hard, don’t let yourself get dragged down and believe in yourself and the universe, everything will work out for you the way it ́s supposed to be.

Photo: Yuliia

Photo: Rafi Glaser / Lilith Kampffmeyer

Photo: Mariia Ziva

You mentioned that you are a petite model. How tall are you? Have you faced refusals at castings due to height?

I am only 1,60m and growing up I always wanted to be taller. Nowadays I am used to it and if I ́d have the chance to change my height I honestly wouldn’t. Even though it is harder to prove yourself as a petite model, in my opinion, it is not impossible. I would love to see the industry change more and be more open and supportive towards petite models.

Are you taking any actions to show that petite models can also be successful?

I would love to be part of one of the next fashion weeks. I think Berlin Fashion Week is a bit more open to diversity than Milan or New York for example. There are a lot of designers who could really make a change. It would be a great honor for me to walk in one of the upcoming shows for example for Rebekka Ruetz. I watched her shows and she had a really diverse selection of models!

What does success in your modeling career mean to you?

Success to me means to be able to live by my principles and values. The most important value to me is happiness. Currently I am really thankful that I am able to work as a model and that it is fulfilling for me. Another principle of mine is that I want to always learn from and work with the best, so I have a list of inspiring photographers, designers, magazines etc. which of whom I would love to work with such as Philipp Plein or Natascha Lindemann. And of course – propbably every model dreams of that- being part of the Victoria ́s secret fashion show for sure! They didn ́t have any petite models yet, so why not start now?

Photo: Annsolie

Photo: Annsolie

Photo: Annsolie

What advice would you give to aspiring models?
To never give up! I think resilience and perseverance are two of the most important character traits you need as a model. If you give 110% everyday you cannot and will not fail. It will be a long and probably sometimes hard way, but it will always be worth it. Just stay true to yourself.

Interview with designer KERIMA ELFAZA


Text: Lyubov Melnickowa

Interview with designer KERIMA ELFAZA

Thank you for taking time for an den interview with us! Before asking questions about the brand, I would like to learn more about the designer and founder of the brand KERIMA ELFAZA.

Tell a little about yourself. How did your creative path begin and why did you decide to become a fashion designer?

From an early age on, I was not only fascinated by fashion. I have loved drawing, colours, shapes, patterns and materials since I can remember. I knew I was about to build my life around this. If you take a look at my designs you can see that I love to experiment with different colours. In my working process I reconsider, reorder, and redraw everything many times until I have a feeling of satisfaction of what I came up with.

My brand is not only exclusively a fashion brand. Often my designs are exhibited in art galleries or shown in performances. I love to think of myself as an independent designer who works in different media.

What does fashion mean in your understanding?

It‘s a way to express myself. It‘s about identity. Growing up in a german/arabic family was not easy for me. My creative side got pushed down my whole childhood and I am still struggling sometimes with the feeling of not being enough or being too much. My desire to work with fashion and art always kept me in between these worlds. Fashion should not only be aesthetically appealing and innovative. In my opinion it should also serve as a medium of communication to discuss current and relevant topics in society. Fashion is intertwined with culture, origins, history and zeitgeist.

Tell us a little about the brand. At what point did the idea of creating a brand come up?

There was no ‚exact‘ moment or point where it all started. I have been starting to exhibit and present my work in galleries, shows and competitions like the „European Fashion Award“ (FASH) already, during my studies at art school. In that time, I started presenting my work on social media, got an invite to a variety of events like fashion shoots, shows, performances, exhibitions and pop-up stores. I have been very grateful for these opportunities, but it has been a lot of work to be recognized with my brand.

I started using 3D scans, 3D printing and digital prints on my fabrics in my BA. I developed more digital printed jewellery and concepts for digital print on textile while working on exhibitions.

As a rule, a clothing brand is a large team that takes part in the creation of collections. How many people are in the brand team and what are the responsibilities of the chief designer?

You could say I am a 1-Person army creating my collections. I work on the designs, create prototypes, handcraft and digitalize, as well as producing the clothing. I have a huge passion for manipulating textile surfaces and since I moved to Bremen I also started casting my own jewellery.

Of course it takes a whole team to realize ideas and projects. I usually work with a video producer, digital artists, make up artists, dancers & performers. Participating in an exhibition also requires communicating with curators to finalize the vision of my brand.

How would you describe the brand’s style?

My idea is that collections should not appear just pleasing and wearable, rather sending the message to provoke. I have more of an artistic perspective on fashion. Whether I press „garbage“ onto jeans or let crystals grow on fabric, behind every artistic exploration in material, there is always a hidden social critical message. Personalized clothing as a specific and interdisciplinary art form and jewellery opens up the opportunity to celebrate everybody’s uniqueness.

Now many brands are for environmental friendliness and recycling. What materials does the KERIMA ELFAZA brand use? What principles do you adhere to when creating clothes?

I love digital printing, especially on silk, using foil and 3D prints. For the future I will no longer require digital prints produced in metered fabrics. I want to use screen printing and use bacteria that can grow the colours. Working with the Clo3D (a digital fashion programm) will increase sustainability by reducing the production of prototypes and it also allows an open discussion with customers online.

My 3D prints are made exclusively out of recycled polyamide. I am trying to develop more sustainable ways to produce 3D printed garments and accessories. Also I like the combination of the technology of 3D printing and traditional craftingship with aluminium and bronze.

Who is the KERIMA ELFAZA brand for? Can you describe its target audience?

It‘s not directly specifically designed for a certain stereotype or cliche that many big brands work with. My brand shows the diversity of people, no matter their size, age, ethnic background or gender identity. 

My latest collection, „SECOND_SCAN“ has a very personal reference for standing up for yourself, making your own change, no matter who you are or that you’re not fitting into any categories.

KERIMA ELFAZA  is a well-known brand in Bremen, Germany. Would you like the brand to exist on the world market in the future?

It‘s a big goal and a dream of mine to present my brand internationally. As an artist I am already present at several events, for example I will be participating at a fashion festival in the Netherlands this year. 

I am always researching new techniques to push my brand and level up.

How would you describe today’s fashion and what feelings does evoke in you? 

I see the same problems in fashion, as well as in the food industry. Who consumes should take responsibility. The consumer’s awareness is increasing, but at the same time the  textile waste is also piling up. The issues of the broader concept of diversity, gender equality, animal welfare and sustainability must continuously evolve. We are not at the end of our rope yet. Innovative ideas of young designers who are deeply concerned about the production chain of materials need to be further explored and developed. I am trying to deal with these issues in my work process.

My first collection „Is(s) mir Wurst“, like „eat sausage“ which means „I don‘t care“, and my second collection „Kopyright“ have been both clever, ironic, ambivalent puns to openly criticize mass consumption. The protection of intellectual property constitutes an imperative in the age of Instagram and TikTok, in order to be able to preserve artistic design in the fashion industry. „Kopyright“ combines an explicit cross reference to „fast fashion“, by challenging plagiarism of discount clothing stores. While „Is(s) mir Wurst“, denounces societies opulent and careless consumption of meat. As source of my inspiration served a native east german provincial butcher, whose meat products I literally scanned and subsequently printo onto the fabrics.

Interview with Victoria Rosenman


Text: Irina Rusinovich

Interview with Victoria Rosenman

Art is an essential aspect of human life that has been around since ancient times. It is a form of expression that enables artists to capture emotions and ideas using different mediums. Today, we have had the chance to interview one of such artist, Victoria Rosenman, whose work has captured the attention of many collectors and art lovers over time. With a multidisciplinary approach to her art, she has managed to create pieces that demand attention and force the viewer to think beyond the surface. In this interview, we will have the privilege of stepping into her world, where we will learn the intricacies of her creative process, inspirations, and the motivations behind her work.

How did you come up with the title for the exhibition, and what does it mean to you?

„I will be on time“ – is a statement and revelation on my part. I like to refer to punctuality as my personal superpower, a quality that offers me illusionary security and order. As I wrote in my earlier texts, I manifest illusions – time, as a phenomenon, is also one of them for me. Moreover, there is a certain irony and uncertainty to the title because I do not say „where“ I will arrive on time. „What role does my destination play in relation to intangible time?“ – That is what I ask myself and at the same time I also have concerns about „my being on the road“.

Can you describe your working process, how do you start creating and, in particular, the choice of the medium?

Due to many events in the world and in my private life, I wanted to take another look at my fears and desires. I started a kind of self-study that took me back to my childhood to dismantle my current self-image in a good sense. So, I started to create images, write down texts and the appropriate final form became more and more visible.

I work in multimedia. And this time it was especially important to me to show my thoughts and convictions in the form of a text. Words that can be read directly, that are understandable, uncompromising. The texts can be seen as „Copper Announcements“. It is a series in which I record statements on copper. This material is one of the oldest and the first mirrors were made of it. I reflect myself with it. Of course, I continue to use photography as my familiar medium. Texts and photos are created over a longer period in different places.

Do you have a favourite or most meaningful work in the series?

I think they all work and interact together. I wanted to create a togetherness that gives visions. The works are very personal this time – it’s not about people and their feelings in general, as it used to be with my „Muses Project“, but directly about me and my family.

What/Who are your key influences for this series?

It is personal experiences, my father and the time that scares me.

How do you go about choosing the subjects and scenes for your art?

They are mostly intuitions. I don’t directly research the next possible exciting topic. I deal strictly with what interests me, regardless of whether it might be boring for others – this is the only way I feel free in my creative process.

So, it can be a dream in the night that I want to process in my art or a person or a thing suddenly inspires me to new concepts. Fortunately, I have many funny and absurd thoughts in my head and the settings and themes quickly find their aesthetic.

How has your practice evolved in recent years?

New materials were added, more objects, new themes and, of course, exciting places to work.

When can we see it life?

I and my gallerist Irina Rusinovich are very happy to welcome everyone to the opening of my solo show at the Hazegallery on 11 May. The Hazegallery & I have been working on this exhibition for a long time and are very excited to meet and have a nice evening with everyone who is interested. You are cordially invited!

Interview with the designer of the brand „des FILLES désir“, Adrian Stoica


Text: Lyubov Melnickowa

Interview with the designer of the brand "des FILLES désir", Adrian Stoica
Thank you for taking time for an interview with us! Before asking questions about the brand, I would like to learn more about the designer and founder of the brand des FILLES désir.

Thank you for having me!

Tell me a little bit about yourself. How did your creative path begin and why did you decide to become a fashion designer?

From a young age I was mostly attracted to creative things. My father was a musician and my mother used to make her own garments. In 1990‘s Romania there wasn’t much to choose from. She also used to watch fashion shows but I wasn’t interested in those. I somehow was fascinated with the process of making clothes and seeing the result being uplifting to her.

What does fashion mean in your understanding?

For me this term hasn’t much meaning left, since it’s been used excessively in mass media. I’m mostly interested in personal style and the way people choose and why they choose to look a certain way. Unfortunately there’s much less individual choice and personal curation involved in the way people dress than you might expect in this day and age.

Tell us a little about the brand. At what point did the idea of creating a brand come up?

There wasn’t too much to choose from. After graduating and working some time in the industry, I realized that the only way to do something exciting was to do it on my own. Corporations in the fashion industry don’t even design anymore. They’re more and more reliant on data analysts, maximising numbers and less on innovative and interesting design.

As a rule, a clothing brand is a large team that takes part in the creation of collections. How many people are in the brand team and what are the responsibilities of the chief designer?

Like most independent designers I started on my own. It’s working around the clock to do research, design, pattern cutting, sewing prototypes, creating marketing materials, doing production, some PR, accounting and much more. With limited resources it’s a difficult process but seeing even the slightest success is very rewarding.
I was quite fortunate to have my partner Markus and my mother on my side for moral and professional support.

How would you describe the brand’s style?

A close friend of mine used to say I do a kind of “complex minimalism”. Certainly I like to experiment with shape, volume and texture to create new and exciting garments. Although I feel close in my ethos to the Japanese and Belgian Avantgarde, I don’t like to use this term since it’s become rather constricting aesthetically.

Now many brands are for environmental friendliness and recycling. What materials does the des FILLES désir brand use? What principles do you adhere to when creating clothes?

Preferably I work with high quality yet overlooked fabrics that allow me to create sculptural garments. I also consider how fabrics might feel on the skin or how durable they are. They’re mostly from Italian manufacturers or small and specialized stores. Being a small label and working mostly made-to-order, I think the environmental impact in our case is minimal. While I consider this debate to be important, it also allows for a lot of greenwashing. As the demand for fair and ecologically produced garments grows, it will become increasingly easy to integrate these in future garments. 

The design process starts with an abstract theme or some kind of observation that I try to translate into techniques or shapes before moving on to make the actual garment. I like to challenge myself to find new ways to create garments that you wouldn‘t find anywhere else.

Who is the des FILLES désir brand for? Can you describe its target audience?

I would like to see anyone trying on des FILLES désir and integrating the pieces in their daily lives. However the designs mostly attract creative people who like to experiment with new things and who are not afraid to be noticed for their bold choices.

des FILLES désir is a well-known brand in Berlin. Would you like the brand to exist on the world market in the future?

There’s still quite some work to be done to reach more people. But I’m confident that this can only be achieved by a slow and steady growth.

How would you describe today’s fashion and what feelings does it evoke in you?

Fashion as a broader phenomenon in the West has lost its luster in the last two decades. At least when we compare its current state to its rich history one might come to the conclusion that fashion has lost its meaning.
However there are still bubbles of interested people gravitating certain styles and designers that aren’t happy with today’s conformity. For me it’s still uplifting to see groundbreaking designs from fresh labels that have to fight to get heard and also to see people who have a strong personal style and who care about expressing themselves.

Interview with Mark Bryan


Text by Lucas Pantoja

Interview with Mark Bryan
In 2020 Mark Bryan, an American robotic engineer living in Germany, emerged as an Instagram fashion sensation seemingly out of nowhere, for his playful gender-bending style which has garnered him a lengthy list of captivated followers (sitting at 615K currently) and includes some of the fashion industry’s biggest names from Carine Roitfeld to Lotta Volkova. Though it wasn’t Bryan’s style alone that brought him digital fame, as cross-dressing is nothing new and those from the LGBTQ+ community have courageously been doing it for a long time now. Rather, it is the unique context with which Bryan – a straight cis male in his 60s, grandfather of four, and noted American football coach – adorns a uniform of skirts and high heels that has made him so intriguing. Two years after his Instagram success, the unexpected influencer has plenty of credits under his belt, such as stories with some of fashion’s biggest publications like Vogue Germany and Interview Magazine, as well as modeling experiences in Paris fashion week. Most recently he found himself in a controversy after an interview aired with the German television program Beyond Fashion, surprising many of his fans in the LGBTQ+ community with his statements hoping to distance himself from a community of followers that supported him from early on in his fame. The interview is a tense piece in which the host, Avi Jakobs, tears up in shock at Bryan’s questionable responses regarding his relationship with the queer community and his ambition to wear women’s clothing as a purely stylistic choice. We had the chance to speak with Bryan over email regarding his latest controversy, his upbringing in Texas and the early fashion memories that shaped him, plus much more.
In 2010 you moved from Texas to a town in the south of Germany. Do you feel well-accustomed to life in Germany and Europe in general at this point?
Yes, people always ask me how I like living in Germany. My typical reply is that I love everything about Germany but the weather. In Texas, you get 300+ days of sunshine and here you get 300+ days of clouds and rain. Maybe a bit over-exaggerated. I struggle with the language. German is a very difficult language to learn. Even when growing up in Texas, I struggled to learn Spanish. I like to think it’s like walking in high heels — for some, it’s natural and for others, it’s not! And the people here are so kind and understanding.
Was Texas where you spent most of your time growing up?
Yes, West Texas to be more precise. From the day I was born to graduating from college I lived in one place. Then moved to Dallas after graduation. Then lived there mostly till moving to Germany.
What kind of environment did you grow up in, and do you feel that’s played a part in your comfort in experimenting with dress codes?
I grew up in a traditional home. My mother taught us to always look our best, to be clean, our clothing wrinkle-free, and of course to match. Of course, she never expected that someday I’d be wearing high heels and skirts! But even growing up in a very conservative time, I always felt the freedom to express myself through clothing. I always enjoyed wearing a suit and tie, even when young going to church and other events that required a suit, even though the suit wasn’t required.
#DeGenderFashion is what we all want, but I want to take it even further. To de-sexualize fashion. I think this is where I differ from the LGBTQ community. The LGBTQ community has used fashion as a form of expressing their sexuality. Again, I have no problem with that. But clothing/fashion should not dictate gender #DeGenderFashion AND sexual orientation. A person is free to wear what they want, thanks to the LGBTQ community, but fashion, as a causality, is seen as an expression of sexual orientation as a result of their struggles.
So when I said that the LGBTQ community has made it hard on me, I was stating my fight to de- sexualize fashion where people can wear what they want without having their sexuality questioned. I’m fighting a separate war, and it’s against the stigma that the LGBTQ community fought for. And of course, not wanting to disrespect the LGBTQ community, but it’s hard to make that distinction.
What’s your earliest fashion memory? Whether it was the first time: you were awestruck by a garment or advertisement; or experimented with your style?
Perhaps when the plaid baggy pants and the platform high heels were popular in the early 70s. Maybe my first attempt at doing something that was considered trendy and fashionable. Also, I was aware that you never mix brands. For example, If wearing Adidas shorts or a t-shirt, you didn’t wear Puma shoes. So I was aware of branding even at a young age. Later, in college, my first must-have brand was Ralph Lauren and their polo shirts.
You’ve made a career for yourself in engineering and coaching American football, interests we don’t immediately associate with fashion. Nonetheless, has a fashion or personal style always been something important to you, even before you started wearing heels regularly?
I think the way we look and dress reveals a very important part of ourselves. I still wear a jacket and tie whenever possible. Even with the relaxed dress codes in the office I always continued to be overdressed. So yes, fashion is very important to me, I consider it a way to express myself with total freedom. I can choose what to wear, what goes with what, and create my style, which, in my personal opinion, is like a personal brand even if you are away from public opinion or social media.
Have you inspired any of your friends or family to start wearing clothes outside of their respective gender?
No. I don’t think so. That’s up to them and their comfort level. I’d never encourage anyone to do something they weren’t comfortable doing regarding fashion, but I hope to send a message that we can truly be ourselves regardless of what others think.
You recently appeared in a controversial interview on ARD Mediathek’s Beyond Fashion: would you mind speaking on the comments you made that have upset many people, particularly those in the LGBTQIA+ community?
I’m not sure why people think I’ve turned my back on the LGBTQ community. I understand that the LGBTQ community has made it possible for me to legally wear a skirt in public. And yet, if I don’t support the community in some way on my platform, I’m turning my back on them. That is not my intention.
My agenda has always been that clothing doesn’t dictate a person’s sexual orientation or gender. When I said I wasn’t fighting for the community but wasn’t fighting against them either, that meant I wanted to stay neutral. I’m a straight male, what I wear has nothing to do with sexuality. It’s a fashion statement only. It doesn’t mean I don’t respect the community and understand the hardships they have endured to get to where they are today. But to assume I’d fight for them is just that, an assumption. But in a way, I am fighting for the LGBTQ community, and that’s why so many in the community still see me as an ally. Just with me being seen in public or pictures or videos of me on my social media platforms, shows that anyone can wear non-gender conforming clothing. But it’s not fighting specifically for the LGBTQ community, but for everyone.
When I mentioned separation, I was talking about separating fashion from a form of sexual expression. Many in the LGBTQ community use clothing as a way to express their sexuality, which is ok. I’ve said several times, everyone should be free to express themselves, either through fashion or other means. But…. many outside the community and many inside the community associate wearing clothes from another gender to be a form of sexual expression only. It’s hard for them to comprehend that it can be just a fashion statement. So I try to keep my distance/separation from the LGBTQ community so there is less confusion that I’m making a fashion statement and not a sexual statement.
#DeGenderFashion is what we all want, but I want to take it even further. To de-sexualize fashion. I think this is where I differ from the LGBTQ community. The LGBTQ community has used fashion as a form of expressing their sexuality. Again, I have no problem with that. But clothing/fashion should not dictate gender #DeGenderFashion AND sexual orientation. A person is free to wear what they want, thanks to the LGBTQ community, but fashion, as a causality, is seen as an expression of sexual orientation as a result of their struggles.
So when I said that the LGBTQ community has made it hard on me, I was stating my fight to de- sexualize fashion where people can wear what they want without having their sexuality questioned. I’m fighting a separate war, and it’s against the stigma that the LGBTQ community fought for. And of course, not wanting to disrespect the LGBTQ community, but it’s hard to make that distinction.
The interview was over 2 hours long and it was shortened to about 6-7 minutes of footage to be shown. So a lot of cut and paste was done, so that some answers I gave did not have all the content that would make the conversation clear and not taken out of context, as in this case.
In the interview, when I started by saying “It’s not the clothes” I was answering a different question. I was trying to explain what makes it more threatening for a trans female than for me. I’ve been photographed in some very flamboyant outfits along with some very short skirts, but I’d never wear them out on the streets. I try to dress more conservatively and not draw as much attention to myself. Yes, I will draw some looks because of what I’m wearing, but then I also show a lot of confidence in what I’m wearing. Besides that, who wants to attack an old, bald man wearing high heels?
In one part of the interview, when saying something about the LGBTQ community I accidentally left off the T and only said LGB. This was not on purpose as many have assumed. I’m just not good with acronyms and since it’s not something I say very often, I just messed up!
I saw that you posted an apology on your instagram, how else have you been reconciling the situation?
I’ve been trying to educate myself more on the matter. Before this, I wasn’t interested in the details of the struggles of the LGBTQ community as I thought it doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m doing. I’m seeing this as a lesson learned and an opportunity, as this experience has helped me to understand what they have been through and how they feel about others. It has helped me to grow. In my position, as an influencer, I should be better educated on this. So this is my focus as of late.
The interview was over 2 hours long and it was shortened to about 6-7 minutes of footage to be shown. So a lot of cut and paste was done, so that some answers I gave did not have all the content that would make the conversation clear and not taken out of context, as in this case.
In the interview, when I started by saying “It’s not the clothes” I was answering a different question. I was trying to explain what makes it more threatening for a trans female than for me. I’ve been photographed in some very flamboyant outfits along with some very short skirts, but I’d never wear them out on the streets. I try to dress more conservatively and not draw as much attention to myself. Yes, I will draw some looks because of what I’m wearing, but then I also show a lot of confidence in what I’m wearing. Besides that, who wants to attack an old, bald man wearing high heels?
In one part of the interview, when saying something about the LGBTQ community I accidentally left off the T and only said LGB. This was not on purpose as many have assumed. I’m just not good with acronyms and since it’s not something I say very often, I just messed up!
I saw that you posted an apology on your instagram, how else have you been reconciling the situation?
I’ve been trying to educate myself more on the matter. Before this, I wasn’t interested in the details of the struggles of the LGBTQ community as I thought it doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m doing. I’m seeing this as a lesson learned and an opportunity, as this experience has helped me to understand what they have been through and how they feel about others. It has helped me to grow. In my position, as an influencer, I should be better educated on this. So this is my focus as of late.
What kind of conversations did the interview bring about for you? And did it affect any of your relationships offline or in your personal life?
I had a few brands that I have been working with express that they were disappointed in what I had said. Most of them that know me well agreed that the words I chose to use were inappropriate, but could see how what I said could be taken out of context.
As far as personally, I’ve had nothing but support as those that know me and, more importantly, understand how communicate, know what I said was not to be taken as hateful or disrespectful to anyone or any group.
You’ve continued to state your message that clothing should not define one’s gender or sexuality. Surely that’s tied to the way you dress currently, but is there more to how and when that became an important principle of yours?
It became more and more evident that what I was doing on Instagram was helping so many that wanted to wear non-gender conforming clothing but were afraid to have their sexuality questioned. I get over 100 direct messages a day on my Instagram account and a large number of them are followers that have thanked me for the courage to go out wearing something regardless of what others may think. Others still have this fear, however. This needs to change and thus has become one of my goals to de-sexualize clothing. But then I’m also helping everyone (regardless of sexual orientation or gender) that we all should feel comfortable wearing what we want.
On another note, you walked in your first-ever fashion show for Ninamounah FW 22. How was that experience?
It was a blast. At the rehearsals having the choreographer tell you how to walk, with timing and making nice turns, being focused, was interesting and fun. Meeting all the models and asking advice from many. I was at an extreme disadvantage, as almost everyone knew who I was, but I didn’t know anyone. But then after the show and seeing the footage I was amazed that more than half the models just did their own thing. I did what I was told but almost broke into a smile during the finale.
Are you paying attention to the runways and what goes on in the fashion world?
I am paying attention to the fashion designs and trends for men, but particularly seeing more and more skirts on the runway.
Would you like to walk in a show again someday? If so, is there any brand you have in mind?
Yes, I would be interested in doing this again. I think the most challenging for the brands would be to style for me. Taking some of their men’s shirts and jackets and matching them to the women’s skirts and heels may not fit their theme for that collection they won’t show. Of course, big brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, Balmain, Prada, and Alexander McQueen.
If you could wear only one pair of heels for the rest of your life, what would they be?
I’m very tempted to say an 8.5cm to 10cm stiletto pump. But if I had only one pair to wear everywhere, I would have to go with a black leather ankle boot with a wide heel (but not a block heel) and about 9cm high. Either a boot from Jimmy Choo or a boot from Louboutin

Interview with actress Varvara Shmykova


Text editor in chief: Irina Rusinovich
Art director / photographer: Inna Malinovaya
Talent: Varvara Shmykova

Interview with actress Varvara Shmykova

How did you discover Film and Theatre? How old were you? How was your journey to becoming a working actor? 

My journey started with my name – Varvara. It’s unusual and fabulous. And with my character, of course.
Theatre has been open for me, perhaps, ever since my childhood. It includes performances in a kindergarten when I was standing on a stool in front of my relatives, along with singing songs or reciting poems on a train Moscow-Glazov when I was 4-5 years old.
There were only a few celebrations or performances I didn’t participate in, whether it was a family celebration, a school concert, or contests at children’s camps. I was always in the spotlight. I could be found on stage at any time. People always knew me as „that red-haired girl with two pigtails and freckles“.
That was followed by children’s school theatre, then children’s professional theatre, and then four years of drama school! After leaving school, it was four years before I enrolled in the Moscow Art Theater on Viktor Ryzhakov’s course, from which I eventually graduated in 2016.
At the end of the first year, we had our first play, which took us all over Russia further to France, Hungary, Estonia, and Croatia… The cinema came a little later, but the theatre was still the primary reason!

Which is your best role so far and why? 

My best role so far is the one I’ve played in a soap opera called „Chiqui“.
It’s the best because it covers the entire spectrum, my whole artistic range, so to speak. And also because the show in itself is a huge success, whichever way you look at it. It’s a courageous and sincere story that left no one indifferent. And to this day, viewers still write to me, asking for a sequel…

How do you select films?

Sometimes I think it’s the film that chooses me, not me.
I’ve been fortunate and proud of all my film works, which always differ from one another. 

Every industry, including the entertainment industry, is full of competition; how do you stand out amidst competition?

That’s a good question.
First of all, I come from a quite large family, so I know a lot about competition.
Secondly, at some point, I got a sense of this unique individuality that everyone really has. We are all very different, and that’s fine. And I’ve never tried to be like someone else or follow any trends. I always try to listen to myself and my heart. Well, thanks to my bright looks and ringing laughter, those who’ve seen me at least once – simply never forget me!

What is the first thing you do to research and approach a role?

I read the material/script/play many, many times.
And I begin to immerse myself in the topic, looking for echoes of it in myself, asking questions about the subject to everyone around me and myself in the first place.

The entertainment industry is known to be full of stress and pressure; how do you tackle the pressure that comes with your work?

It seems to me that stress and I are related. It could be a professional deformation, but I exist like a fish in water in stress and deadline mode. It’s probably hardened since the university. You manage to do everything when you’re working on two plays, studying for three exams, and reading four different books at the same time. 

Are there things you’d like to do other than acting?

Now I have a chapter called motherhood. It’s an exciting and vital experience for me! And speaking of occupations, I’d probably make a great producer! 

What is your strength as an actor?

I’m capable of anything!
P.S. The laughter of an evil genius…

Do you think that success has changed your life? 

It would’ve been a lie if I said it had not.
Success has definitely changed some areas of my life. Some, but not all of me. My status and recognition. I’ve learned to say no and be choosier about people.
But life continues to flow according to my laws and the laws of nature, of course. 

A character you would like to play. 

Speaking of a role, I would prefer a resisting character, some kind of a villainess; otherwise, I’d love to star in a fairy tale or some fictional world. However, overall, I would’ve been happy to get a starring role! 

Tell us about your upcoming shows and how you’re staying on top of things during the geopolitical crisis. 

Recently, just in two months, my companion Misha Shamkov and I made a play via ZOOM, „The Heartbreak Club“. Producers Lisa Paliy and Philip Nesterenko started „Arête“ in Dubai to influence the Gulf countries‘ cultural agenda. We have been their first project!
Also, back then, Misha was in Dubai, while I was in Berlin. I flew in, and we met on stage just one day before the performance. We had a day for all the rehearsals, both acting and technical. And there were two performances in front of an audience, which were, I dare say, spectacular! We hope to tour the world with this show! It is a good thing that it only involves two actors, one table, and two chairs. And, of course, we’d love to play in Berlin!
And soon, in Russia, the series „Mir.druzhba.gum“ will be released, where I have a role in the second plan. It’s a very remarkable story about the ’90s. It is the third season when my character appears on screen for the first time. My partner is the wonderful Yura Borisov (Petrovs in Flu, Compartment number 6, Captain Volkogonov escaped, The bull).

Where do you see your career in five years as an actor?

Now the planning horizon has narrowed to a week… can’t look that far ahead. I want to believe that in five years, I’ll still be an actress because I love my profession very much, and I’m sure I can bring a lot to the world of theatre and cinema. Let’s go on with our lives and see what happens next.