Young design duo Tomas and Victoria aka victoria/tomas, from Russia and Latvia respectively, served up one of the darkest, yet most intriguing collections at this year’s Festival International de Mode et de Photographie in Hyères. Torching, etching, coating – you name it and the couple have most likely already tried it in their collections. In Hyères they were nominated with their, cryptically ‘Voices’ titled, womenswear.
Harald: First of all, you guys are the only couple nominated at this year’s festival. Could you tell us when and why you started to work together?
Tomas: We met at school during our studies in Paris and we somehow started to work together on the same projects. Then we continued to work together after we graduated. We found a balance that really works and just continued that way.
H: What are the work dynamics like between you two? Do you share tasks or do you do everything together; or one of you does patterns, the other one does fabrics…
Victoria: It depends…
T: It depends on the project, but we share…
T: Yeah, we totally share – but maybe I’m more industrial and she’s more creative, so she’s the feminine part and I’m more the masculine part.
H: You decided to do an entirely new collection for Hyères, what was the reason behind that? Could you not just submit with the collection you applied with?
T: I guess so, but you can feel freer when participating in the festival, try working with something new for yourself.
V: New techniques that aren’t so commercial.
T: Basically, we do the commercial things as our main thing, for the festival we demonstrate some more techniques.
V: To create a mix between the commercial and the artistic.
H: You guys also run your own brand, Victoria Tomas. How is this collection here different from your other collections – except for experimentation and also in terms of the fabric you used?
T: They’re completely the same, but maybe this one is a bit more worked in terms of touch. It’s the same materials, the same leathers we normally use.
H: Why is it called ‘Voices’?
V: It came from our inspiration.
T: Yes, it came from there, kind of from voices in the past. Voices that we are trying to hear that are subsiding right now and about the emotions and the way we feel about the past. We try to hear the voices that people had before, who try and tell us a story.
H: Emotions play more of an impact than actual objects or situations?
T: Exactly, yes, the emotions are the main thing for us to find a new theme and it is very personal for us, it comes from our soul and from our hearts.
H: A lot of your collection had quite a dark atmosphere. There was one model completely veiled in black – is this a statement on the contemporary image of women in fashion?
T: No, it’s more about the emotions, because these are more about the negative emotions. The look you just described with the covered face, it’s almost a small monster popping out from the collection. But I would not say it’s super dark. We use the colour black a lot, but at the same time we use lots of new colours. We just love black; it’s not really dark, it’s rather positive I think…in some way…
V: Positive black haha.
H: Black doesn’t have to be negative…
V: Yeah of course not.
H: Otherwise most of the fashion world would be depressed.
T: Well, we don’t want to give that effect.
H: You also experimented a lot with modifying textures. I think there was one or two garments where you burned or etched…
T: Yeah, we torched actually – we torched the leather. It’s kind of our new thing. We want to develop it in the future because we think it can work in a commercial way as well. Some tapestry techniques we used, washing leather as well, painting…
V: Coating with resin.
T: Yeah resin coating, so many things.
H: A completely different question – how do you like your eggs?
T: How do you what…?
H: Like your eggs – breakfast, lunch, dinner, scrambled…?
V: Oh… T: Victoria likes them, I’m not a big fan.
H: You don’t like eggs?
T: I’m okay with them, but not too much.
H: What is your biggest fear as a designer at the stage you’re currently at?
T: Not to succeed, but it is going pretty well for us. I’m just enjoying it, I don’t have any fear. I think for people who want the stuff we do it’s important to have these kinds of things. Like the good leather outerwear, it’s interesting as well as wearable. I don’t know … we’re not afraid. We aren’t young enough to be afraid. If we were 15, it would be pretty scary.
H: How old are you guys?
T: I’m 21.
V: And I’m 24.
H: You finished school at 21 and you already have your own label?
T: I finished in 2011 and I started when I was 17, but I didn’t even finish secondary school. I skipped classes so I just went to Paris to study.
V: We are definitely not afraid.
T: No, the one time I was afraid was when I was trying to get out of my home country Russia and after I had done that, I started to become confident.
H: Leading on from that question, what’s happening for you after Hyères?
V: Our next collection, which we will present at Paris Fashion Week in September.
H: Have you presented in Paris before as part of Fashion Week?
T: Not as part of fashion week. We didn’t have a presentation, we were just sat with our collection in a multibrand show room. It’s just a commercial process with sales.
V: After Hyères we’re hoping to make a presentation or event .
T: We really want to do something interesting and unexpected to blow the roof off. And torch the whole thing!
Interview: Harald Weiler