Mariia Ershova is a young fashion designer, born in Russia and based in London, currently undertaking a BA Womenswear course at Central Saint Martins. Her design process evolves from an intellectual approach to aesthetics, absorbing ideas from literature, modern art, and streetwear into garments with couture and tailoring characteristics. Her work aims to create modern and functional yet elegant and beautiful clothes that answer the needs of a modern woman, demonstrating awareness of current events.
Photography: Marie Lourier @marie_lourier
Model: Maria at Fabrica Milano @mte.xx
Styling: Mariia Ershova @mm.erosh
Assist Daria Krasnova @daria.kras_
Analog editing + collages: Liza Borovikova @lill.boo
When did you first realise you wanted to pursue a career as a designer?
I have always loved fashion. I remember my mother making garments both for herself and me, as the range of clothing available in Russia during the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s was restricted. Fashion was a method to exhibit one’s individual style and set oneself apart from others. I became interested in art and fashion as a form of art while I was in middle school, and I’ve never doubted my decision to pursue a career as a fashion designer since then.
Who would you most like to see wearing your garments?
My acquaintance is researching fashion from the standpoint of artistic merit. His name is Anatole Vovque, and we talked about current trends and the state of the fashion industry, and one of his quotes is still stuck in my head almost five years later which was “People stopped making elegant clothes”. This phrase holds true for me since I believe that one of the previous functions of clothing, which was to make people look beautiful, is vanishing nowadays. As a result, I’d say I prefer to dress those who want to consider themselves as elegant. The rest does not matter.
How your creative process works? Do you have a specific strategy or just ‘go with the flow’?
I absolutely construct a narrative around each item of clothing, and then I do some historical research because, in order to make the next logical step in adding details to the garment, you need to know where it came from and what affected how we see this or that piece of clothing today in the first place. I’m currently reading Christopher Breward’s book on the history of the suit, and it’s fascinating to learn what the original reference was to building a suit and how it has evolved over the years. When I’m “going with the flow,” it’s all too easy for me to become lost in my own thoughts. Another method I like to incorporate while working on my projects is to absorb ideas from various fields, such as theatre, cinema, and contemporary art, so I go to museums, historical places, and plays whenever the opportunity arises. It helps in the development of a comprehensive story.
What about education in the fashion industry? Do you think is important before launching your own brand and why?
Education is crucial, in my opinion, because it broadens one’s horizons. In the field of design, it’s critical to create apparel that meets modern necessities while also appealing to your style. Fashion, on the other hand, is an art form for me and art itself is a synthesis of other disciplines. My very first university projects were based on technical drawings of automobile specifications, which has now grown into the way I work on my patterns, thanks to my high school specialization in math, IT, and physics. If you know how to create a 2D shape, building a 3D shape is simple. This background is quite beneficial to me. When it comes to art education, I would say that studying the history of art has made it easier for me to tell my tale and identify references.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
Go to every museum, open lesson, or lecture that you can because you never know what you might see, like, and later on use in the project’s narrative at some point. And do not be shy with people you meet.
Who have been your biggest mentors in this industry and what is the best advice they have ever given you?
Anatole Vovque who I have previously mentioned, and Sue Foulston is the second person. She was my tutor during my first year at Central Saint Martins, and she passed away two years ago. I believe she came into my life at the right time for me to ask myself, “What is that I want to do in fashion?” And she patiently helped me through the process of figuring out what I really want to communicate with my design work. She also inspired me to believe in myself. It was incredibly encouraging to hear constant words of encouragement from a woman who obviously saw everything in her life as a designer and an instructor.
Name two icons you admire or you would like to collaborate.
All of the great ones have died already.
What’s your favorite place where you feel more inspired?
I don’t have a certain location in mind, but I would say that traveling is what inspires me a lot. Thanks to my parents, who instilled in me a desire to travel and not sit in one place, I cherish the ability to see new places and move around the world.
A letter to your future self. What would you write?
Do not lose the spark. Recently, I’ve been speaking with a lot of people who have worked in fashion for 10–15 years, and the majority of them say they are dissatisfied with what they are doing because it has become more of a routine for them, which seems extremely dangerous to me. It is very simple to lose the creative aspect of a kind of art when it becomes routine. So, don’t lose your spark. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box.