Lana Siberie: Textiles, Vintage and Energy
Iulia Filipovscaia is one of those designers that you would want to meet in person. She is spiritual, candid, quirky and dedicated. Iulia’s brand Lana Siberie distinguishes from the mainstream with its focus on the value of textiles; whether that is their story, where they come from, what era they signify or the human endeavour they represent. And people have noticed the distinctiveness of her garments; they are stocked at London based concept store LN-CC and have been featured on The Calvert Journal and Make it Last. I got to have a highly stimulating conversation with founder Iulia about everything from culture, art, fabric and energy to the meaning of life. Iulia is one of those people that you feel like you can discuss anything with and they will have something fresh to say about it, that will make you see things from a new perspective. We sat down one afternoon over tea and strawberries in her studio, which is a roomy, brutalist space with memorabilia she has collected from the nature, her vintage fabrics, plants and cat. Lana Siberie is making waves in her own little way which may be niche, but are significant nevertheless.
Coming to the Lana Siberie studio, I wanted to find out more about their affinity for vintage fabrics and dedication to slow fashion. What I came back with was a deep understanding of her motivations and her spiritual life and how that has led her to what she is doing now. Iulia is from Siberia, where she realised for the first time that she wasn’t like the other kids; “I had some of these hats that were like Siberian made with these long, I don’t know the tassels. I would be made fun of at school and come back home crying”. While on her exchange in Kansas, she developed her love for Fine Art, after which she applied for her BA at Central Saint Martins. While there, she was experimenting with different mediums, whilst never really tying herself down to anything: “I think it’s a matter of playing, I think that’s what’s interesting”.
Things in Iulia’s life happen according to her intuition; this is what led her to explore art, and later on fashion. “After I’d done my MA in image and communication from Goldsmiths I just wanted to be an artist. I started already showing some of my work in the galleries and presenting my work, for example I had a presentation at Photographer’s Gallery. Actually things with the artist career started kind of expanding and growing as I was putting my energy in”. Circumstances led her to a job at hedge fund after delving into the life of an artist, after which she started to seriously think about her future and the possibilities. She wanted to start something together with her mother: “it was about creating a legacy. I just always had this artist perspective you know and then I guess the two of us coming together and finding our way of how to implement our talent. My mother had this like really obsessive attitude about fashion and me being sort of creative and entrepreneurial”.
you kind of have to be with the pace but also maintain your values
Fashion is an art at Lana Siberie; the garments are made as individual pieces of art, and are as unique as their maker and their materials. “For me the most important thing is energy. I think we have to become aware that every single thing be it a stool or a piece of clothing actually has energy like it’s alive and breathing. And if we come to that point we will understand that everything has to be attended to as an art really and everything is art”. Her process of designing starts with a feeling; something she gets from the fabric and its feel or the nature: “when I draw, I draw a feeling. I always create almost like a feeling of an outfit or how it would feel like”.
Iulia does fashion according to her own beliefs and her own timeline for one reason; “if you can really live or sustain yourself from doing what you love, then it’s worth it. You’re here right now so might as well do what you love”. She isn’t afraid to slow things down, and appreciates being able to experiment and make one of a kind garments. Her collections are kind of like surprise set menus from top chefs; you can never be too sure what’s coming but you know it won’t disappoint. A big part of her work is spontaneity; foraging seeds and shells and collecting vintage fabrics you never know what you will find. Because of this spontaneous nature, most of her garments are one or two of a kind. Iulia has a very physical, textile focused approach to making clothes: “I love everything that’s tangible, and has texture”. Another key aspect of her work is doing things according to her own values and not following the so-called set of rules; “After having the experience of going to fashion weeks, I realised I’m an artist. And like I can be a hermit you know and not consider all of the rest. Basically I think it’s just time for something new”. Advocating for change in the fashion industry can be a swimming against the current kind of struggle, so she has to try to adapt to customer needs: “You know the seasonal stuff, still clients come in they’re like ‘Well do you have you have a new collection ready’ or something like that. And you kind of have to be with the pace but also maintain your values”.
This sense of energy and spirituality is strong in the creation process Lana Siberie clothes. “It’s connected to cosmic energy. That’s what it’s really about: purifying yourself, that’s exactly it. You just go through life, you learn something about yourself, you have an experience, you work at the hedge fund, and then you’re zooming in and realising “‘oh yeah i’m interested in that’ and you slowly put those little pieces together and you really understand who you are. And that takes forever and I guess it’s been a process of understanding that. And then you’re like what is this all about, how do you put it together? Everyone’s learning their own lessons and having their own experiences. You’re just here to figure out yours”.
Iulia has been interested in exploring other cultures, and their craft practices for a while now. As she has explored her Siberian heritage and Russian textiles thus far, she wants to look at exceptional crafts from around the world: “the world is a beautiful place and all the different nationalities and aspects, and the culture, that is so so interesting. And London is a hub of all of us together in one place. People have different ways of thinking, different ways of living and that’s just so great”. She is fascinated by the Japanese pristine attention to detail, women in Burkina Faso making fabric out of the bark of a tree and a diver in Sardinia, who makes thread out of coral.
The reason the Lana Siberie collections consists of predominantly vintage fabrics, is because Iulia sees value in continuing the life cycle of a textile; “if it’s hand-woven, there is the energy that has been put into the piece. They have that kind of history about them, they you know contain that time within them and carry that”. Putting textiles into use once more and continuing their journey is what using vintage fabrics is all about, all the while ensuring that handwoven textiles stay relevant in today’s fashion industry. Lana Siberie is a quiet visionary in her own field and an inspiration to any conscious creative starting up.