Born and raised in Siberia and now based in New York, Maria Kazakova of Jahnkoy has accumulated a patchwork of experiences and cultures. A graduate of Central Saint Martins, the designer speaks to a multitude of issues inside the modern conscious, commenting on fashion sustainability, racial and cultural inequality, and the ever-present consumerism that permeates the modern way of life. In advance of the announcement of the 2017 LVMH Prize, Document speaks with Kazakova, one of this year’s eight finalists that are changing the way we think of and view fashion.
Document—When were you first introduced to fashion?
Maria Kazakova—It is something that I have always been surrounded by. My grandmother took me to lots of fabric shops [as a child], and we made clothes for Barbie dolls. I’ve always loved to dress a certain way, to express my inner self—art as a method of expression. My father used to cut masks from wood, so I observed creation from an early age. My mother also developed her clothing brand while I was growing up beside her, it all just aligned within me.
Document—Your work uses environmental recycling, what led to you incorporating these materials?
Maria—I felt the situation was urgent, and I didn’t see any other option, really. This is the moment we live in.
Document—How do you define beauty and how does it influence your process?
Maria—Beauty to me is about sincerity, care, and love. It comes from the inner self, when that inner self is truthfully expressed, it becomes beautiful. You must master your craft to make it a masterpiece, then it is beautiful, it is full of life, it brings joy when experienced. One must inquire. By seeking and searching you learn to trust yourself. You learn the ways your brain thinks, your eyes see, and your hands make. It takes your whole nature to create.
On June 16, 2017, eight next generation designers—Yoon Ahn (Ambush), Kozaburo Akasaka (Kozaburo), Cecilie Rosted Bahnsen (Cecilie Bahnsen), Nabil El-Nayal (Nabil Nayal), Molly Goddard, Maria Kazakova (Jahnkoy), Marine Serre, and Antonin Tron (Atlein)—will compete for the 2017 LVMH Prize. The award, juried by the likes of Maria Grazia Chiuri, Nicolas Ghesquiére, Jonathan Anderson, and Delphine Arnault, among others, was born out of the need to find and foster emerging creatives—an invaluable process in the often rigorous terrain of the fashion landscape.