Russian designer Maria Kazakova, aka Maria Jahnkoy, is just as much a visual conceptual artist as she is a fashion designer. “My work is about restoring the cultural tradition, artisanship and global heritage that is being lost,” she states. The designer combines the cultural designs and hand crafted designs of many cultures, including her own with a modern streetwear aesthetic. As part of her mission, Jahnkoy is utilizing her voice to raise awareness around political, economic, and social issues, to promote consciousness and sustainability.
For Spring, she embarked on a completely unorthodox presentation, complete with dancers and performance artists in a demonstration that resembled more of a protest-party than a traditional runway show. Jahnkoy is pioneering completely new territory within the streetwear subset with her artful hand embellished designs. Her work combines urban sportswear with traditional hand embellished designs from Mexico, Africa, India, and Russia, tying them together with ethnic prints and patterns in vibrant colors. Each model in her show was dressed in clothing representative of his or her own culture with statement pieces, including headdresses, billowy drop-crotch pants, silky robes, and tunics.
Visually the collection reads ultra-modern with performance based designs that are completely new and original, featuring different elements. As the models freestyled and cheered, the protest-style presentation took on a more celebratory tone of the various cultures. The street-cast models represent Jahnkoy’s DIY ethos — each model’s own uniqueness translates directly to the uniqueness of the clothes themselves, and vice-versa. Plenty of cultural influences made their way into the collection. But it’s Jahnkoy’s appreciation (not appropriation), that makes each look so relevant for society today.