Yana Markova sits delicately, simply dressed and surrounded by her fantastical creations. The bold, decadent beauty of her work greets us immediately whilst she humbly introduces herself. Yana, a gently spoken Russian, is a designer who creates one-of-a-kind headpieces and jewellery for fashion editorials, the music industry, and celebrities. Art to be worn, her work is absolutely something to behold.
Growing up with a mother who always made dresses, Yana knew from her earliest years that she wanted to be an artist, and it’s pretty darn clear; she was destined for no path other than this. Her skills are literally mind-blowing, the room felt as though it may just about pop with her palpable passion.
“I want to be noticed,” she explained, and it struck that her work is her, as if she herself is behind the scenes, and her work is the star. Not an ounce of ego, she creates because she loves to. Working solely on her own, from her mind, with no paper sketches, she lets the work evolve with her hands, organic and free. She constantly pushes herself to evolve as a designer, and excitedly admits that she makes mistakes sometimes, because each piece involves her trying new techniques and materials.
Yana dedicates her days to working on one piece at a time, until it is finally finished and then moves onto the next, devoting up to two months to every single headpiece, brooch, or pair of earrings. It is rarely so obvious that art is made with such sincere love poured into every detail, and boy, is there a lot of detail.
Yana’s work has a glorious blend of both feminine fragility and strong fierce form. We asked her if this was something which reflected her personality and if it was a deliberate contrast. “At different times in my life, I seem to create different styles”, almost as though her life story is told by each different piece, albeit unintentionally. Authentic Russian lace, metal, crystals, feathers, gold, and beading are just some of the materials she has so far made magic with. Her designs are theatrical and take centre stage, deliberately overwhelming any outfit and taking full charge.
To be a success, Yana believes you need to constantly surprise both yourself and your audience. When asked if she still manages to surprise herself, she nods. “All of the time, inspiration can be found anywhere, even in a tiny floor tile.” She effortlessly seeks the element of surprise, her designs each making their own statement, keeping us astounded. With many designers and artists, their collections are identifiable by a subtle sameness, a signature, and Yana worries her work isn’t identifiably hers because of the diversity of design. However, the sheer skill and scale of her creations are the clear continuity which undoubtedly let you know that they are by Yana.
Any limits? “Never, only budget.” Her imagination and potential are endless.
For Yana, discipline, persistence, and work create success. “When I look at my work, I see light,” she says with a proud smile. And with hopes in place for scaled down and affordable lines in store, ideas for an exhibition of her work and new ideas forever entering her head, we’d wholeheartedly agree.
This girl’s future is bound to be bright. Shiny, shiny bright.
One can notice some traditional Russian shapes in your work. Would you say your origins in some degree emerge through your pieces?
Of course, I start from the cultural heritage of my country. History has a strong basis for any art.
What image or mood do you aim for your customers to portray while wearing your pieces?
In my collections, you can find a headdress that reflects the mood of the soul, mind, and anyone the wearer wishes to be. Wearing a headdress is like being an actor and you can change your mood with a hat.
You go through an interesting process of going straight into creating without initial sketches. Does this hands-on approach allow any place for mistakes, and how do you overcome artist’s block?
For each headpiece that I create, I have an idea in my head and start from there. By not creating initial sketches, I allow myself a great freedom to explore my imagination in 3D. Sometimes a ‘mistake’ can lead to something wonderful.
You previously mentioned that you see your pieces as very theatrical. What significance do you see in detaching yourself from reality into the world of beautiful illusions?
I do not separate myself from reality; I just want to decorate the reality around myself!
Do you see your opulent pieces engrossed solely in the perfected luxurious still frame, or can they be combined with deconstructed minimalism?
Of course, they can be combined with minimalism, this much depends on the stylist and what they want to convey.
Can you characterise your customer?
My clients are extroverted, bright personalities that wish to be the star of the event.
Which historic individual would you have wanted to dress?
Cleopatra. She fascinates me – so much mystery and allure.
Where do you see your brand going in the future?
I would love to create headpieces and accessories for Chanel catwalk shows. Also Dior, Maison Martin Margela, Balenciaga, and others.
Quick Fire Questions
London or Paris?
Day or night?
Heels or flats?
Ready to wear or couture?
Film or book?
City or country?
Sea or mountains?
Lace or metal?
Words: Shona Daly
Interview questions: Veronika Tsash
Images: Provided by Yana