Meet Womenson - Transformable Fashion Colored St. Petersburg
Womenson is the fashion insider’s go-to for designer sportswear with a street style edge. From military-inspired parkas to see-through tulle skirts, Womenson uses luxury natural fibers, primarily sourced from Russian manufacturers. The label's signature piece, the Transformer (Convertible) Raincoat, is a feat of advanced pattern making that easily converts into five independent pieces to create one stylish, weatherproof coat.
The creator of Womenson, Tatiana Kushniruk, graduated from St. Petersburg State University in Russia with a specialization in costume design. Having worked for the ICEBERG group of companies, she also spent five years as chief designer of the EDMI brand.
What's your name?
Where are you from?
From the city on the Neva river - St. Petersburg, Russia.
Describe your signature design style in five words.
Transformable fashion in the colors of the St. Petersburg rainbow.
What's your biggest source of inspiration?
My biggest source of inspiration is my clients - real people who are often creative and informal. For them I want to create again and again!
Do you think true innovation in fashion is still possible?
Of course - the human brain and fantasy can create miracles, and of course, new technologies and materials will dramatically change the fashion industry over time.
What role does the commercial aspect play for you? Does it limit your creativity?
Of course having limitless financial opportunities one could live luxuriously and create what one wants. On the plus side, having some financial restrictions, you tend to make more informed decisions and learn how to plan. Secondly, no one has canceled the golden rule: The artist must be hungry.
What other art forms inspire your collections?
It’s a standard set: music, foreign cultures, art objects, and architecture. Actually, inspiration is unpredictable. It may appear any time. I know one thing for sure: A rolling stone gathers no moss so it’s important not to stay in one place for a long time (unless you're meditating of course). :)
Do you prefer to follow or subvert trends?
I prefer to find a balance between the trends and my creative fantasies that often go against those trends. I consider such a balance the key to successful collections.
Do you thrive off of spontaneity or careful planning?
Of course we are doing our best to create a trouble-free machine and plan our activities for the year, quarter, or month ahead, but, to be honest, there is more confusion in our business at the moment. It seems to me that only a few people on this planet are able to combine creative thinking and careful planning.
How do you deal with creative blocks?
I drink (kidding). :) Fortunately, I was born and live in St. Petersburg, a city full of history and mystical energy. The most prominent creative people of Russia found inspiration here: Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, Mendeleev. So, to overcome a creative crisis, I just need to go for a walk.
Are you a romantic person?
50%. :) It seems to me that roughly an equal amount of romantics and pragmatists are born. Limited resources turn even the most convinced romantics into pragmatists. In a capitalist world, there’s almost no place for romantics.
Do you prioritize aesthetics or functionality?
I believe that design exists to make functional things beautiful. It’s important not to overdo it.
How do you think the fashion industry is going to change as automation takes over?
Machines will definitely improve over time to do the basic and monotonous tasks, but the human brain, with its limitless imagination, cannot be replaced. As long as people exist, it is us who will set the trends.
Which fashion designer do you have the most respect for?
I love Asian designers. Among my favorites are Sacai and Juun.J.
Are your designs connected with or inspired by your heritage?
Sure! You don’t have to go far for an example. Our NewVatnik is a new version of the good old authentic Soviet quilted jacket. During World War II these rather primitive jackets, stuffed with cotton wool and quilted vertically with a stitch, saved millions of Russians from terrible frosts. Since then these quilted jackets have come to symbolize the invincible spirit of the Russian people.
Are art and commercialization irreconcilable?
Art and design are two separate things! Art has nothing to do with commerce. The former should come from the heart regardless of commercial success, and art is often ahead of its time. Design should focus primarily on contemporaries, on their comfort and convenience! If a garment is attractive, functional, and original, then commercial success is guaranteed.
Did you undergo a formal design education?
Yes, I studied for six years before graduating from a specialty program. I was very lucky to be attached to my graduate supervisor, Honored Professor of the Mukhinsky School in St. Petersburg. She taught many famous designers - David Koma, for example. I believe that a simple desire and an innate sense of style are not enough to competently build collections. What we learn in a university is just as necessary.
Do you think collaborations between companies and designers are cash plays or real attempts at innovation?
Fashion is a fickle thing, and while it continues to change, people will continue to make money off it.
Do you gravitate more toward designing for men or women?
Women always gravitate toward men :) I was always inspired by men's fashion to create pieces and looks for women.
What first made you passionate about fashion?
Since my childhood, I've known who I wanted to be. My grandmother worked as a tailor in the most famous studio in St. Petersburg. The atelier was located at the center of the city on Nevsky Avenue. It was given a terrible name: “A Death to Husbands." Only wealthy Soviet ladies and stars could afford to shop there. For ordinary men, going there with their wives was like a death - everything was so expensive! :) It’s no surprise that because of my grandmother I only ever dreamt of a career as a fashion designer.
Once you’ve mastered a certain style, is it difficult to continue evolving it?
It is difficult to find the right path, but to follow that direction is not that hard.
If you had to invent a new color, what would it look like and what would you call it?
If I invented a new color, it would turn out to be black.
Do you work better alone or on a team?
In order to come up with something new and original, you need to learn to be alone with yourself. In order to develop your idea, you need a team. Like-minded teams rule the world.
If you could travel anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?
I would take my husband and fly to some Latin country with him to dance bachata.
What is your favorite film?
Inglourious Basterds or Django Unchained by Tarantino. Quite unusual for a designer, right? :)
Do you have any rituals when starting a new design?
Yes, at first I wear everything myself or ask my friends to try the garments. Thus, I get sincere feedback.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of fashion?
Swim in the sea and sunbathe. The only drawback to living in St. Petersburg is that it's only sunny 50 days of the year. A trip to the sea is a vital necessity for me. It's where I replenish my internal energy source.
You’ve received an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with it?
I would lease it.
What is your favorite food?
Borscht. A real one and not what is served in restaurants and called borsch. Also Vietnamese pho bo soup. This is my second passion.
What's your favorite month or season?
It’s banal but summer.
What is your spirit animal?
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
I hug my husband!
What is one thing you can’t live without?
Without traveling, I cannot exist, which means it would not be me anymore.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I would teleport.
Check out Womenson's new collections here.