One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art - Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

An Interview with Kamola Malikova of Kamola

Kamola Spring Summer 2011
Kamola Spring Summer 2011
Kamola Spring Summer 2011

Kamola is an up and coming womenswear designer and she has recently been featured as 'One to Watch' in Tatler Russia. Originating from Uzbekistan, Kamola studied media and communications at London College of Fashion, and then achieved a Masters degree from the Istituto Marangoni in Milan. Kamola is currently producing her 3rd collection of evening wear for Autumn Winter 2011. Today I visited the designer in her Kensington studio to discuss the story behind her collections and the Kamola brand; her fashion memories and aspirations for the future; and her opinion of fashion bloggers and modern celebrity. 

What has been the highlight/biggest challenge of your career so far?

Kamola: I think the highlight was when I was mentioned on a radio station called Radio Free Europe/Radiio Liberty and the interview was then broadcast in Uzbekistan.  For me this was a very important moment as I came to Europe at the age of 16. They discovered me and decided to interview me, and for me this was invaluable, because it goes back to my roots, and where I come from. Interestingly this meant more to me than being featured in Tatler ... [Tatler] is fantastic and very glamorous and helped me a lot; however it felt good to gain recognition from my own nation.

As for the challenge, there were a lot of challenges! One challenge was feeling like I was not making progress, but then you turn a corner, for example you read a report, or you get an order, or a blogger writes about you and it gives you the incentive to keep on going. Then there were of course other challenges such as with manufacturing, and sending the collections abroad where you can't oversee the production.  I remember one of the manufacturers trying to take advantage of me; it was a Turkish manufacturer who almost blackmailed me by keeping my collection ransom until I paid them an additional sum which was not even part of the original agreement. I almost considered not going ahead with the collection, but I was happy that I did because of the fantastic response I received from it. 

What is your first fashion memory?

Kamola:  My first fashion memory is seeing a red fedora in a shop window. I was a little girl; I could barely speak. I was with my mother, walking, I don't even remember where I was ... but I pointed at the hat and she bought it and I thought how elegant she looked wearing that red fedora.

What is next for Kamola?

Kamola: At the moment we are very excited because we are adding a line of accessories to the label, a line of handbags. I am also looking forward to seeing people's response to my new collection as it is something different for the brand.  Last season was very tribal and ethnic, and this season will be much more classical. I decided to go back to the past. I looked into the archives of Christian Dior, and at the costumes worn in the very popular TV series Mad Men, as my ideas were centred around something extremely feminine.  I'm not against the nonchalant French look but for me women should be women by enhancing their curves, and hiding their imperfections, and this is something they can achieve through clothes and fashion and design. 

What is the best thing about working as a designer in London?

Kamola:  I don't think I could have even become a designer if I wasn't in London. I don't think any other country encourages and supports emerging designers as much as London does, and I think it would have been much harder for me if I had been somewhere else. 

What made you want to start designing womenswear?

Kamola:  Well, I started with a capsule collection of body conscious dresses in natural fabrics. I felt there was a gap in the market as at the time everyone was in Herve Leger and spandex versions, which I didn't particularly like, compared to natural fabrics such as silk, and lace, and velvet. After that, I decided that being an Uzbek girl, I wanted to answer people's questions about my heritage so I decided to answer with my designs. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Kamola: From all over the world. For example my last collection (for Spring Summer 2011) was inspired by the Great Silk Road, which was the road used by silk traders as the link between Europe and Asia.  The third collection (Autumn Winter 2011/12) was inspired by Claude Monet for the prints and also the New Look silhouettes of the 1950s era. 

How do you feel that your Uzbek heritage has influenced your pieces?

Kamola: It has influenced me a lot, I am very proud of my culture and feel fortunate to come from such a rich and beautiful country.  However, I realise that although I know a lot about it, the rest of the world doesn't actually know much so I hope to impart some of my heritage through my designs in the hope that people will be encouraged to appreciate my national culture.

What do you think about fashion bloggers? 

Kamola: Fashion bloggers right now are so important. Back in the day of course there was no internet, but the world is changing. I think that fashion bloggers will eventually become more influential than contributors to magazines, as at the end of the day I think it is much easier for the girl next door to relate to and listen to the opinions of fashion bloggers rather than magazine a 'posh' magazine editor or stylist.  Then in relating to the bloggers, these people trust them and by trusting them, that's how they [bloggers] have influence, in a more casual way.  I think we live in an increasingly digital era and this is why bloggers have become as important as any other press. 

Who is your fashion hero or heroine?

Kamola: I'm always influenced by the past, and right now I am looking to Grace Kelly, who I admire for her beauty and her gracefulness ... she was always impeccably dressed, always elegant ... I wish nowadays we still had that elegance. For example last night I went to see The Childrens Hour (with Keira Knightly and Elisabeth Moss) and I noticed that no one dresses up for the occasion of going to the theatre. I was shocked by it. What is the point of living if you can't dress up and show your creativity, even by looking elegant and impeccable ... it doesn't have to cost a lot of money, it can be as simple and understated as a crisp white shirt and some red lipstick or a headscarf. Who said no to fake pearls?? There is no one these days like Grace Kelly, or Jackie O, who lived their lives through elegance. 

Which celebrity would you most like to dress?

Kamola: After seeing Keira Knightley, I thought that she was so elegant and classically beautiful, not dangerously thin like the tabloids suggest, and she is alive ... you can see from the way she is acting. I was very impressed.

Kamola's Spring Summer collection is available to buy from Not Just a Label and Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland. 

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