By Sarah Wong
LEROU, Lera Volkova’s graduate collection, challenges the notion of conventional eveningwear by showcasing elegant, sophisticated alternatives to women’s evening gowns. The collection combines modern silhouettes with elements taken from Eastern European fashion and architecture in the 1800s.
LEROU will be unveiled at 2018 The Show presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc., on April 19 and 20 at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) new purpose-built Wilson School of Design building. The beautiful and innovative $36-million building houses a range of design programs including the fashion-design-and-technology program. Thirty-one other lines by KPU fashion design and technology students will also be showcased.
Sarah Wong: Describe your collection.
Lera Volkova: LEROU is an evening wear collection made for women who are looking for alternatives to evening gowns and dresses. It takes inspiration from Eastern European 19th-century fashion and architecture.
SW: Who or what was the inspiration behind your line?
LV: I’ve always considered myself as feminine but I’ve often felt more comfortable and confident in pants. As I was approaching my final year in the program, I began to wonder if there were women who felt the same way. While I was doing exchange studies in Finland, I met and spoke to many women who felt as I did, and began to realize that there was a need, especially in the bridal and evening wear industry. To create a stronger connection with LEROU, I took inspiration from my heritage and incorporated it in a way that makes the designs look fresh and modern, yet very elegant and sophisticated.
SW: Walk me though your creative process.
LV: I first begin with the theme in mind and start developing sketches. Depending on the theme, I will look at a variety of sources for inspiration, and as I develop my ideas, I use forecasting to help narrow down my designs and help determine things, such as trendy colours and fabrics. Fabric sourcing is usually one of the last things I do when I design, because I want to be certain that my designs will work well with the fabrics I am selecting. Although from time to time, I like to reverse the process and do fabric sourcing before anything else, as it helps me generate better ideas.
SW: What made you want to become a designer?
LV: As long as I can remember, I was always involved in arts. I attended an arts and music academy as a kid and because of that I’ve learned to really value classic and traditional art. However, I was not interested in attending an arts program because often the focus was on modern arts, which was not something I connected with. I chose to pursue fashion because I saw it as a way to continue creating classic art, but in a different form.
SW: What are your plans after graduation?
LV: My plan after graduation is to work within the bridal or evening wear industry as a designer or a technician, as well as continuing to learn from the best in order to perfect my skills and craftsmanship. I would love to experience working in the fashion industry outside of North America as well.
Sarah Wong is a final-year fashion design and technology student at KPU’s Wilson School of Design.