- Hakan Öztunalı
Mirror Image w/ NUIT Clothing Atelier
Updated: 3 days ago
Greetings, I am immensely honored to have an exclusive guest. NUIT Clothing Atelier founded in Toronto, Canada by Anastasia Ikonnikova in 2012. Collections created in the dreamscape of mysticism, nature & art. NUIT reconstructs garments in the name of conceptuality. Hand-made weaving and production. Salient silhouettes. Amalgamation of masculinity and femininity.
There is a saying impresses me: ”Man may be the head of the house. However, woman is the neck. She may turn the head wherever she wish. ”That’s the commandment of nature. We fall together as we ascend. We are the assembled image, reflected in the sleekest mirror. NUIT Clothing Atelier rejects canonical demeanor of the fashion businesses and put forward entirely new line of vision. They are the tranquility of yore, in cadence, enclosed by the dark ages. You might reconsider your values about garments thereafter.
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers who may not know you yet?
Anastasia Ikonnikova: Hi there, my name is Ana Ikonnikova. I am a designer based in Toronto, Canada and started my brand in 2012, while I was completing an undergraduate in Medieval Studies.
Pleasure to e-meet you!
Do you think sustainability has become a cliche and about to lose its essential meaning due to mainstream media’s mischievous monetization, false news and populist policy?
Anastasia Ikonnikova: I think the notion of sustainability encompasses a wide range of actions and ideas. To me, it’s more important to speak about actionable results, rather than use the word in a more general way.
When I am evaluating whether I want to support a brand or business, I look for ways that they are actioning sustainability. For example, some of the ways we commit to making our business practices sustainable are:
1) Making things locally, in small batches or entirely cut-to-order
2) Drafting patterns/pattern placement which use the fabric width in an intelligent manner to reduce fabric waste and
3) Using fabrics which will decompose and become soil very quickly.
Nevertheless, we have a far way to go as a brand and as an industry. Some of our sustainability goals for NUIT include using more locally- made and deadstock fabric (we currently use around 30% deadstock materials) and using 100% compostable packaging/shipping materials.
(Courtesy of NUIT Clothing Atelier, FW 18 Collection, Persephone’s Kingdom)
How NUIT Clothing Atelier wields its shield to block corruption comes from the tedious fashion trends?
Anastasia Ikonnikova: This is a great question. Whenever I design collection I tend to look within my imagination. There is a great Yohji Yamamoto quote: “Be Bright. Your eyes have become dirty”. This refers to aiming to see things through the clarity of your own vision, instead of looking around at the work of others.
I try to return to where I left off in my previous collection. What ideas are unfinished? What can be evolved? What themes or techniques do I want to explore further? But then again, the same master, (also) said “Copy, Copy, Copy! At the end of the Copy you will find yourself”, which refers to replicating the things you love to find your own voice I relate to both of these statements.
When I first started NUIT, my chief aim was to live up to the Greats (Mcqueen, Westwood, Demeulemeester, Kawakubo, Owens, Mugler and Yamamoto) To get back to your original questions about trends: Trends can be fun, but I always run them through my own filter: “Can I interpret this in a timeless way? Is this for me?” Its important to think in the long-view when you’re committing to own something, otherwise there is no end to our overconsumption.
I do feel like trends can serve the purpose of invigorating one’s style direction, especially if you balance them with your own values and vision. But also, not everything is for everyone. Some things we can enjoy on a purely aesthetic level but not feel the need to participate in or absorb into our personal style-identity.
There is an old saying; ‘’Much Wants More, Loses All.’’ According to the aphorism, greediness and gluttony which are the scourge of the modern mankind likewise fast-fashion, how to banish?
Anastasia Ikonnikova: I hinted at this answer in my response to your previous question, but more clearly: Find your style.
Filter out what applies and what doesn’t apply. Engage with what does. Evaluate whether you can thrift it, make it or up-cycle it. I’ve learned so much about making clothes by taking apart and altering thrifted pieces! I don’t think I can overstate the importance of having a wardrobe which is timeless and well-made. I aim for a trend-proof wardrobe by making, buying and wearing things I’ve always loved and will continue to love.
The pieces in my own wardrobe which I’m most attached to are the high quality ones. They are the ones that have taught me about craftsmanship and longevity. I try to base my work around those lessons to trend-proof my product offering.
How do you symbolize NUIT Clothing Atelier?
Anastasia Ikonnikova: The name NUIT comes from the description of the Thelemic goddess, “The Woman clothed in the Night Sky”. This is the anima of NUIT.
NUIT is for all romantics.
Where does NUIT Clothing Atelier nourish itself in the sense of realm of fantasies?
Anastasia Ikonnikova: My work is inspired mainly by my childhood imagination of “Days Past”. I go back to those early impressions which held my attention so ardently.
I used to look at my mum’s Vogue Magazines and I remember, particularly, the Versace Winter 1998 Campaign photographed by Stephen Meisel. It’s inspired by Arthurian Legend. I was completely captivated by it as a child. I don’t think it’s ever loosened its grip on me.
I try to explore that realm in more concrete ways as a designer, through literature film, architecture and travel. I tend to think of my work as embodying a place or space, always. I use my personal interpretation of art as the north-star of my creative work, even if my impressions may not be accurate in an academic or factual sense. I think I got this way from being a voracious reader as a child. I always felt like my imagined interpretation of what a character in a book looked like was so much richer than the film-portrayal haha!
I think everyone feel this way though. Some say they see my background as a medievalist in my work, and that may be so, but in a conscious sense I’m more interested in the fantastical impression I had of the Middle Ages prior to formal education.
Could you define one major failure that fashion industry stumbles?
Anastasia Ikonnikova: I think my major frustration with the fashion industry at the moment is that we are all trapped in cycles of over-working and over-producing.
I too feel like I need to come up with new styles every season, partly because its what I love doing and partly because its required to keep the client’s attention in the current climate. Social media plays a major role in our industry and, I suppose, this is why fashion has gotten so maximalist in this “attention economy”. Quieter, subtler things tend to get lost in the mix.
I hope to balance this by creating things which are both wearable and striking. I think we can all move more slowly and with more awareness of the life-cycle for what we produce.
How do you assess your individual transformation in the last decade, do you perceive a transfiguration about yourself?
Anastasia Ikonnikova: I feel very grateful that I’ve had the energy to push myself creatively during the past decade. I’ve learned a lot about design from a technical standpoint, about my clients and about running a business in a responsible way.
I come from a self-taught fashion background and, in the past, have felt like an outsider in this industry. But that’s changed in the past while. I’ve found an amazing community which inspires me and perceives my work on an intimate level. On a level beyond words and explanations, but on that of the unconscious receptivity.
I am an eternal student and my desire to learn, experiment and understand is what drives me. I aim to explore something I’ve never done before, in each collection. I feel this keeps my work surprising and intricate.
What is NUIT Clothing Atelier’s distinction that makes notable stance?
Anastasia Ikonnikova: I think we are distinct in our Medieval Minimalism aesthetic.
We create work which is both inspiring and wearable. It’s not costume, but its clearly intertwined with the past. I am also very proud of the quality of our creations. They must always embody a “realness” for me. Not the idea of a thing, but the very thing itself. I guess that translates to our pieces having a presence, when you see them in person. The quality emanates from the garment.
The majority of your collections are womenswear & partially unisex. Will there ever be a capsule collection for menswear?
Anastasia Ikonnikova: I have done a menswear offering in the past and I may do so again in the future. I don’t have a finite answer at the moment.
Could you please describe the awe-inspiring nostalgia which fills you with blissfulness about NUIT Clothing Atelier?
Anastasia Ikonnikova: I feel so lucky to be doing the work that I do, so there are many amazing moments. During the span of designing a collection I have blinding flashes of inspiration which make me so excited to bring a garment to life, lest I lose my vision to the shadowy waters of my imagination.
A few incredibly gratifying moments from the past decade include: my forever favorite author, Margaret Atwood, wearing our Bishop Sleeve Jacket, meeting and working with Myles Sexton (my twin soul), presenting my Spring Collection in Boston with Christian Restrepo/December Thieves in 2019, finding the studio of my dreams this past April, celebrating our Ten-Year anniversary this year with a reception, show and two week Pop-Up Store, making my first corset, and giving a series of talks about my work at Conestoga College to a Design Foundations class, this past November.
Any last words you would like to say?
Anastasia Ikonnikova: Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak about the history and process behind my work. Your interest means a lot to me. An thank you, dear reader, for reading.
Nuit Clothing Atelier’s Webstore Page: nuitclothing
Nuit Clothing Atelier’s Instagram Page: @nuit.clothing.atelier
Photography by Victoria Polsoni
Models, Alexandra and Martin
#medievalfashion #atelier #anastasiaikonnikova #Fashion #mysticism #artisanalfashion #sustainability #dreamscape #Antifashion #nuit #darkaesthetics #DarkFashion #deities