A well-known businesswoman from Nizhny Novgorod, Elada Nagornaya, shared the details of one of the most iconic projects in the fashion world – the Russian fashion studio LADA & LIZA. The unique atelier offers women all over the world handbags, jewelry and accessories made “with soul and in accordance with Russian traditions,” the official website says.
The main and unique feature of LADA & LIZA brand products is following the traditions of the Khokhloma painting (Khokhlomskaya rospis) – a unique artistic movement that originated in the XVII century in the Nizhny Novgorod province. Thanks to the skillful use of style canons in a modern way, LADA & LIZA products are very popular among women who want to emphasize the diversity of their tastes through unique designer accessories.
Elada Nagornaya, founder of the Lada & Lisa Fashion House
— Hello, Elada. Thank you for taking the time to talk. Your idea is to preserve and popularize an important element of Russian culture that is over 300 years old. Does this find support among people? Do they agree with you on the importance of preserving traditions, especially during the time of globalization and unification of not only the lifestyle but also the concept of beauty?
— Of course, I am pleased to share with people what is important to me. And it’s great that it attracts such interest. Khokhloma is one of the elements of the cultural code of our country, it is recognized all over the world. At the current time, as you have noticed, the stereotypes of life and worldview, the culture of “what to wear and how to equip your home” are changing. At this time, I would like people to remember how it all began and honor the tradition. Khokhloma for Russia is something that should be saved. Times are difficult, and the format in which Khokhloma developed earlier requires renovation. For 300 years, kitchenware has been the main focus. But now we want to give it new life in the form of new directions: designer handbags and jewelry.
— Where did you learn this? How did you find the desire to create accessories in the traditional Russian style?
— I started my career in the fashion world, working with a truly iconic representative of Russian and European fashion, honored art worker, and fashion designer Valentin Yudashkin. When the opportunity arose to show my knowledge and experience in a personal business, I had the idea to create a new direction of Khokhloma art, saving the tradition with a long history and bringing it into the modern fashion world.
When I told Valentin about this idea, he replied that it is difficult to develop in the fashion segment now: the market is full of new designers, new opportunities, and trends. But the uniqueness of traditional craft is worth preserving. Valentin had an idea to move towards interior decoration and kitchen utensils (dishes, tablecloths). But, in my heart, there was a desire to create beautiful things for women. As a woman, I love these beautiful things, and by that time I had a daughter and had a desire to create a product that would be inherited. Hence the slogan: “the continuity of generations”.
Both Khokhloma and the ability to wood-draw in this style were passed between the painters from generation to generation. I put into this project such an understanding as to the inheritance of Russian traditions. So the idea to create accessories was born. There were many directions, but we decided not just to use drawings on clothes, but to keep the craft. It is unique in that it is written on wood, there is a patented technology that belongs to Khokhloma. The wooden form goes through several stages of processing, as a result of which it becomes gilded, and then the artist paints. I wanted to keep the craft authentic. The wood, the artist’s hands, the drawing – this carries energy.
— The symbiosis is very interesting. I mean, tradition is intertwined with modern forms of feminine style through certain accessories.
— Yes, every woman is individual and unique, and I wanted every woman to have a unique accessory that is drawn in a single copy. Because it is like a painting, by the hands of an artist, and an artist cannot exactly repeat a painting, this is not a template. It seems to me that a woman can choose a handbag that is as close as possible to her inner world, her sense of life. Owning it, she always knows that she is unique, and can inherit the same accessory to her children. These handbags, like art, do not lose their value but are passed on from generation to generation.
— Who are LADA & LIZA products for? Tell us how you see your audience who appreciates and understands the idea of accessories. How do they become ambassadors of the brand forever?
— Polina Dibrova is the official ambassador of our brand. Why exactly Polina? Because she is the personification of femininity, a mother (she has three children), a wife, and at the same time she is a beauty who has the title “Mrs. Russia”. I think this is very close to our ideology. If we talk about women who become our customers … these are women for whom beauty is one of the components of the soul in the big sense. Beauty in the understanding of love for the family, for the homeland, for the traditions of the country, its culture, art, painting. These are women who are filled with many components of the soul.
— Are there celebrities and famous personalities among your customers?
— Yes, celebrities really love our stuff. Nadezhda Babkina is very supportive of us. We do a lot of interesting things for her and for the Song Theater. Valeria, Arina Sharapova, Irina Viner, Nelly Kobzon, Inna Mikhailova, Svetlana Astakhova – they like our accessories. And also sportswoman Safina Dinara, actresses Irina Pudova, Evelina Blendes, Yulia Menshova, TV presenter Ekaterina Odintsova, and Italian princess of Russian origin Natalia Strozzi.
People who want to be unique, these women are happy to purchase our accessories. Such things are even more popular abroad, when Russian women come with these accessories, everyone pays attention to these handbags. They won’t see it anywhere else.
— This is a bright element of the cultural code, right? Strong identifier of ethnicity. You noted that each piece is handcrafted like art. Can you share the details of the creation? Probably, a lot of people have been working on this for more than one week.
— Sure. First, we brainstorm “what we would like to talk about in the next collection”. Next, the artists create drawings. After creating drawings on the chosen topic, the art council selects the best ones. The factory employs about 35 artists, each of them is an Honored painter of Russia.
Some of the best drawings are converted into vectors. This is necessary in order to preserve them and also to use them on fabric. We choose which prints our collection will consist of (usually 5-7 themes). But the drawing, as I said, changes every time, as it is written by hand. They convey the approved patterns, but the artist’s hand modifies the drawing and color scheme.