From Alexander the Great to Chinese ornaments, Interview With The Vampire to pieces of metal. For Yana Markova, the world is a giant mood board waiting to inspire her.
In fact, the Russian milliner’s collection of spectacular hats is influenced by so many different experiences, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how her individual creative process works. Only that it goes beyond the realms of conventionality, and past the limits of theme into something almost mythical in quality: wearable pieces of art that will well and truly wear you.
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Markova, whose work has featured everywhere from the silver screen at Cannes to the pages of L’étoile Magazine and HELLO!, trained in fashion design at the renowned Ural State Academy of Architecture and Arts in Russia. After she graduated, she worked an accessories designer in Moscow, where she made shoes, handbags and jewellery.
“I decided to design hats because I wanted to do something special,” she tells Shevolution. “I am not a designer, I am more of an artist. That’s why I decided to put all my knowledge into how to create and design handbags and shoes and everything into one thing.”
She began making hats after completing her debut fashion collection, ‘Have No Fear’, which was received with critical acclaim. Since then, she’s become Europe’s go-to for extravagant celebratory pieces to showcase from the stage to the pages of high fashion editorial.
“They are not casual pieces, they are works of art,” she continues. “So if you want to feel like Cinderella for one night, or to feel unique for a night, then you can wear these. But they are not for everyone.”
Her favourite piece is an incredible 3D headpiece made of diamonte jewels and bent in the shape of a tiger.
“I was inspired by Alexander The Great. I saw a movie about him and he wore a huge large hat on his head like this one.”
Her most famous, a large, haunting felt black rose, that casts a looming, oppressive shadow over her slight frame as she places it on her head.
“It was published in many magazines.”
There are huge, ornate gold earrings, too, attached to model’s heads by a band as they drape, gilt and heavy, over their shoulders.
Each piece is totally unique, which values ranging from £500 to £1,600. Her current clientele consists of Russian celebrities, performers and fashion editors, but there is one person in particular she would love to create for: “Beyonce!”
As for what she’d make for her, she answered: “It would depend on the event. Because she’s very beautiful, I do not feel I would need to create something big and theatric. Something asymmetric, perhaps.”
The designer she most admires is John Galliano.
“I love everything that he does,” she says of the current creative director of avant-garde fashion house Maison Margiela.
On his life of controversy, which saw Galliano sacked from Christian Dior in 2011 after “odious behaviour” towards Jewish tourists in a Parisian café, she added: “I don’t care who he is. I try to see his designs, I am not interested in what he’s thinking about or what he is doing. I just want to see what he creates. A lot of geniuses are not very good people, but they are geniuses, and I respect his technical artwork.”
For young female designers who wish to emulate her success, she has two strong pieces of advice.
The first is to hone your technical design skills at university as well as developing a thorough understanding of the history of fashion and design. “History is very important.”
“Not thinking about money,” she says. “Just do what you like and never stop. Never give up. Because you have time to start, you have time to create, you have time to be famous and you have time to be rich. There are different steps, and you should go step by step.”
As for her next collection, that’s already been decided.
“I went to the Victoria & Albert Museum, and now I have it!”
If it’s not Pink Floyd-related, this writer will be deeply disappointed.
Follow Yana Markova’s work on Instagram here.