London-based designer David Koma began to draw dresses when he was just 8 years old. He designed his first collection by age 13. Now, the Georgian-born, Russian-bred Koma is 26 and thanks to his intriguing designs, he's become one of London's most talked-about new designers.
Studying illustration and fashion history as a youngster in Saint Petersburg, Koma was something of a savant. During his youth, he became obsessed with fashion competitions, and would enter his designs against those of students twice his age. "I loved it so much, all these designers around and judges and models... I started to enter every possible competition that existed in Russia. So this is how it started," he says. Koma finished high school by the time he was 15. And after studying classical painting, art history and life drawing at the Russian Academy of Art, he was off to London to attend Central Saint Martins College.
On first encounter, the hyper-focused Koma seems intimidating, or, at the very least, removed. But as Koma drags on his cigarette between sentences and reminisces about his college days, admitting he can't wait for the next season of House M.D., the bearded blue-eyed designer reveals a more human side. "I love everything about London. I love the energy I love the streets, I love the culture, I love the heritage and I love London Fashion Week and the British Fashion Council. It's quite amazing to be here and to be part of London NEWGEN and I'm really honored and happy that so many people support me," says the designer, who was awarded BFC NEWGEN sponsorship in 2010.
Since launching his line in 2009, Koma, who won the favor of Lady Gaga and Beyonce off the bat, has established himself as a master of sculptural but ladylike dresses. He balances strict tailoring, colorful, surreal accents and flouncy skirts. Fall was all about polka-dot artist Yayoi Kusama, whose influence was in the patent circles that created a space-age snakeskin effect on black body-con dresses, spheres of red and blue fur and laser cut dots throughout. Koma's refined, futuristic looks often have an exuberant pop art feel, but with severity and razor-sharp construction.
"I'd say my clothes are quite graphic, bold and intelligent—but at the same time, provocative," says the designer while sitting on a couch in his East London studio. This season, he will further his aesthetic with a collection of tribal-inspired dresses. "I wanted to do something extremely directional and very light, but that's still within the David Koma frame. I'm working on new techniques with unusual colors and I think the vibe will be quite fresh," he says of his spring looks.
Of his goals for the collection, which will take to the runway on Tuesday, the designer says, "I would just love to share my vision with people, and to see what happens."