Vladimiroff’s starting point was a group of heirlooms; pictures and objects that, she says, record “a history of handcraft and making in my family.” Though Vladimiroff is continuing that tradition, her emotions were conflicted when confronted with these mementos; there’s a cultural disconnect, she explains from “growing up Australian with a Russian family.”
Starting from a personal place, the designer abstracted her feelings into larger concepts around value, preciousness, the personal—and their opposites. “I was looking at the plastic bag as something very ubiquitous and disposable in our society, and how this can be used to juxtapose the sentimental and precious value of handcrafted techniques,” she explains. “Plastic bags came into this process as a representation of the invaluable.”
Having determined that these larger ideas would be best expressed on an archetypal garment, Vladimiroff landed on that 1990s stand-by, the slip dress, which she proceeded to “distort.” Hers is made of two vintage tablecloths and plastic bags largely held together, she explains, through hand embroideries. (The bow motif, she adds, is from a family heirloom.) “The dress was about creating this sense of disarray. Where does the fabric end and the plastic begin? [It blurs] the line between the valuable and the invaluable,” says Vladimiroff. It’s also very much in sync with what the designer calls the “expressive messiness” of her aesthetic.
Just a few months ago the future was looking orderly and bright. With an MA in hand, Valdimiroff found a job and was planning on building a career in the industry. Then came COVID-19 and furloughs, throwing well-made plans into disarray. “The future of fashion seems so precarious,” says Vladimiroff, who is now focusing more on her own work and finding new ways forward. When asked how she’d like to see the fashion system change, the designer had this to say: “If the industry was able to slow down and allow for greater thought in every step of the process, I think it would bring back the excitement and authenticity we are lacking and yearning for. Time pressure is always something that comes up,” she says, “but I think it has a really overarching effect on all the other issues such as sustainability, mental health, etc.” Every second counts.