“Fun, Free, Fluid, Sassy”: Lotta Volkova Gets in Bed with All-In
In September, Benjamin Barron and Bror August Vestbø of All-In made a scene during Paris Fashion Week with the off-calendar debut of Allina, a sassy, sexy, Showgirls-inspired runway collection created for an imaginary pop star of the same name. The brand, best known for their slouchy leather stilettos and sultry upcycled pieces, took their look a step farther this season with the help of mega stylist and consultant Lotta Volkova (best known for her work at Miu Miu), who understands character-building as a means for crafting culty couture better than most. Here, the collaborators catch up over email to talk Clown Core, kitsch patterns, and breaking the bed, as any bad All-In girl would.
BENJAMIN BARRON: Have you ever broken a designer’s bed during a shoot before?
LOTTA VOLKOVA: Ha ha ha. No! By the way, not many designers wear their own clothes and I find it cool that you do. Like, you live it all the way. What do you think?
BARRON: It comes quite naturally to us to wear our own clothing because we try on our designs early in the process. How the clothing makes us feel is an important exercise in giving the designs the right attitude. Obviously, you take iconic selfies, but you don’t love having your photo taken. What’s the difference for you?
VOLKOVA: I like to take pictures with my phone, to document what I see, and yes, to take selfies. I like to document what I wear, little ideas here and there, colors, shapes. I feel it’s very different to be photographed by someone else. I am normally very specific about what I like and dislike, which makes it harder.
BROR AUGUST VESTBØ: Michella [Bredahl] was saying we were like teenagers playing dress-up during the Interview shoot. What were you like as a teenager?
VOLKOVA: Actually pretty calm. I was obsessed with music, fashion, and art. I’d stay up late listening to online radio shows with my favorite bands and watching fashion shows on firstview.com. I was very self-aware and I remember I couldn’t wait to grow up and be able to go out and make stuff and experience everything.
VESTBØ: You’re super fast and super sure of what you want. Where does that come from?
VOLKOVA: I’m very instinctive and I have learned to trust and follow my instincts all the way.
BARRON: What drew you to America?
VOLKOVA: I guess I am a part of the generation that caught the last glimpse of the “American Dream.” Overall it reminds me of where I am from [Russia], a vast land, beautiful nature, extreme landscapes, that sense of freedom. I also find it very cinematic. I grew up watching American movies so it’s exciting to finally feel like a part of one. You guys recently moved to Paris, how has it been treating you?
VESTBØ: I really relate to that feeling of being in a movie. Everywhere I go in Paris feels quite romantic. As a teenager, I always used to make playlists about cities, dreaming about what it would be like to be there. We live not far from the Luxembourg Gardens. I love going there and listening to the Marie Antoinette soundtrack. What are you listening to currently?
VOLKOVA: Clown Core! And a lot of Dad metal and rock, ha ha. Oh, and radio FIP is a must!!! I listen to it everywhere.
VESTBØ: What inspires you?
VOLKOVA: Anything, to be honest. I love looking around, noticing stuff, people, how they look, behave, what’s special about them. I love finding beauty in the discarded, accidental, and unintentional.
BARRON: Why do you love fashion?
VOLKOVA: I don’t love fashion, I love clothes! The way you can express yourself through what you wear. What about you?
VESTBØ: I would say the same. I love how my perception of clothing is constantly changing. There is no limit to what a garment can represent. What makes fashion exciting to me is when I discover an identity within a garment that I didn’t know was there. What’s the philosophy behind your work?
VOLKOVA: I am excited about going to new places, being surprised, imagining stories and scenarios, and creating characters.
BARRON: You’ve mentioned how the new generation sees clothing and subcultures in a different way from how your generation experienced them. They don’t need to be connected to a subculture or know what a piece of clothing represents to wear it. That’s related to how we design clothing. It’s largely about mixing references and losing what pieces represent individually to create a collective meaning. This is also something that you explore throughout your work.
VOLKOVA: I like the idea of using different references and pairings that are seemingly incompatible to create new narratives. I like the idea of something undefinable, unexpected. But I also like story-building and I always think of the context. It excites me way more than the process of putting clothes together.
BARRON: In the Margiela documentary, many people said Martin Margiela was the last fashion revolutionary. What do you think was the last fashion revolution?
VOLKOVA: Margiela! Ha ha. But I mean, these days it’s more about a slow evolution rather than a drastic revolution. Context changes everything. What do you think was the last fashion revolution?
VESTBØ: Social media. I think social media has impacted fashion more than any designer singularly has. What’s the future of fashion, and what do you think is the next fashion revolution?
VOLKOVA: The point of revolution is that you never know it’s coming, but that’s the exciting part: someone coming around and proving everything you have believed in so far was wrong and turning it all on its head. It’s the best feeling. Also, I really hope to be seeing more and more young designers able to have successful businesses. To me that’s the bright future.
VESTBØ: Do you feel like there’s something missing in fashion?
VOLKOVA: Creativity and freedom 😉
BARRON: What are your favorite stereotypes currently?
VOLKOVA: Someone who has lost their sense of time chilling on a beach, suddenly realizing they have to run to work and having no time to change or wash their hair 😉 Oh, and Erin Brockovich.
BARRON: How did you initially picture Allina [the imaginary pop star All-In created as the inspiration behind their latest collection] to be, and was it related to how she appeared on the runway?
VOLKOVA: I guess I imagined Allina to be very Eurodance, “extra,” sure of herself, and in denial. Ha ha. She pretty much lived up to expectations.
BARRON: Did you know you were the first person to ever buy All–In, that we know of ?
VOLKOVA: OMG really? I had no idea! I remember I loved seeing these crazy deconstructed pieces at the MNZ [Maryam Nassir Zadeh] store in NYC. It seemed fresh, different, and bold. I loved the use of existing garments and turning unexpected materials (like porcelain flowers) into something totally different and new, but it seemed to have a style of its own and be very now, not retro.
VESTBØ: How do you picture the All–In girl to be?
VOLKOVA: She is rooted in subcultures, the underground, music. She likes to dress up and is not afraid to be different, to be herself. She is sure of her body and confident about showing it, she’s not afraid of accidents and using them to her benefit. She likes to be the center of attention and often finds herself in the spotlight. She loves colors, flowers, and kitsch patterns, she is not afraid of “bad taste turned good taste.” She makes herself a new outfit every time she goes out.
VESTBØ: How would you describe All–In to someone who has never heard of it?
VOLKOVA: Fun, free, fluid, sassy, daring.
Hair: Louis Ghewy at MA+ Group.
Makeup: Marlene Bouron.
Lighting Assistant: Erik Cesla.
Special Thanks: Toariki Dexter.