With mushroom skin, dramatic sleeves and rich fairy tales behind every garment, February First is making clothing precious and dear again, so that we will value clothing like we did before. As artists first and fashion designers second, the sisters behind February First uses stunning garments to send messages from the past to our future. As all tales, the story they would like to tell will make you think.
Tell us about February First.
We are sisters Anastasia and Daria from Florence, Italy. Our biggest passion is art. We studied painting, drawing and sculpting in the Academy of Art in Russia, where we spent hundreds of hours in the studio. This experience had a big impact on our vision, and gave our fashion work a strong artistic edge.
Our second passion is clothing. We truly believe that garments should not be as easy to get and thrown away as they are now. We think the only way to stop over-consumption is to transform clothing into artifacts again. Our dream is to create clothes so emotionally dear and unique that mothers will desire to save them for their daughters, just like it was years and years ago.
Our brand name is February First, the day of our birth. The DNA of our brand is quite simple: knitwear, volume, and painting. Whatever we are do, it is always about playing with knitwear, colors and volume (especially sleeves—we are somehow obsessed with big sleeves).
Why is February First’s brand about fairy tales?
We believe that there are old and important messages of wisdom that people had transformed into words years ago.
Besides the obvious superficial aspects, we have our philosophy about fairy tales and ciphers. We believe that fairy tales hold within old, important messages, meanings and wisdom that people had transform into words years ago. Then we thought that all these messages can be transformed into garments and be sent to our future in a new form. That’s what we are doing actually: transforming stories and emotions into garments, and sending them to the future.
Where do you find ideas for your unique clothing?
We like unusual materials like mushroom skin or aerogel. This strange mix of old and new is very attractive.
Our inspiration comes mostly from our emotions and life experience. If we ever run into a complicated situation, a new feeling, a question with no answer, or a strong emotion, we transform them into garments. We believe that it gives this garment life and meaning. That is why we like ethnic clothing and old clothing so much: they have stories.
We often start our collection with the research of old patterns and textiles. We also like new or unusual materials like mushroom skin or aerogel. The strange mix of old and new is very attractive. When one of us has no inspiration, another sister usually has, so it’s good to work together.
What does design mean to you?
We think design is about making the best choice out of millions of possibilities. That is why we think design talent is the strong intuition that lets you find the best options as fast as possible.
The most interesting thing about design is that you are creating an object that would be both useful and beautiful.
How are your personalities different from each other? How do the personalities show off in your clothing?
We try not to be too rational, not to analyze.
It is difficult to analyze your own personalities because people are changing and growing all the time, so when you think you know something about yourself, it become completely wrong. We try not to be too rational or analytical. The only certain thing is that we feel like two parts of the same body: Our responsibilities and talents are somehow divided nicely; we don’t know how but we feel good working together.
What is your favorite piece of work, and what is the fairytale story behind it?
Since there are two of us, we’ll share two of our favorites. The first one is the grey moss-embroidered Bryophyta jacket.
This jacket is a small version of a huge statement garment we presented in Florence two years ago during an exhibition in Villa Favard to illustratrate our “fairy tales from future” idea. Very quickly, our small Bryophyta jacket became a bestseller, which made us very happy because it’s not “simple casual clothing” at all.
Bryophyta means “moss” and now it also became the name of the one-handed, haunting monster girl we created in our fantasy.
Another favorite garment of ours is the blue ‘Twins’ sweater.
The story behind this garment is about beautiful Ada Byron, the famous poet’s daughter. Her mother made every effort to prevent Ada from becoming “insane” like her father. Ada was forced to study mathematics instead of arts and poetry, and was surrounded by many rules that protected her from supposed “psychiatric problems”. However, Ada successfully found poetry in mathematics, and is regarded now as the first computer programmer. ‘Twins’ collection is about strong personality locked in a system of strict education. Do rules help or kill outstanding talents?
To create the special jacquard for our blue sweater, we inserted old programmer’s punch cards into the knitting machine. That was an experiment that worked well.
Can you share with us any future project you’re working on?
Our next project is a small collection of lingerie and coats made in collaboration with the amazing Russian artist, Lisa Smirnova. Here are some details from it. (Photo credits: Lisa Smirnova)
What words of wisdom would you offer to up-and-coming designers?
Beauty and courage are the same thing. Be brave!
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