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She is not only active in the field of fashion, but she takes part in art and performance projects too. Her collections are very clean yet full of secrets, with codes that communicate messages to those who can recognize them. Arita Varzinska, the Latvian designer whose graduate collection we present today, defines her work as structural, alluring and horny. Does it sound strange? Keep reading and you’ll discover why.
Could you give us a couple of lines on who you are, what is your background and what do you do?
I am a fashion designer mainly focusing on womenswear. I completed my Master studies at Aalto Arts in Helsinki (Finland). Currently, I’m collaborating with the brand Paviljons Studio on show collections. In addition, I take part in different fashion, art and performance projects, which opens up different perspectives and allows me to work with incredibly talented and driven people, for instance for this shoot – photographer Aiga Ozo Ozolina and hair and make-up artist Anete Sidlovska.
You have recently reached the peak of the mountain after graduating from a Masters degree, as you’ve said. Has it been a difficult climb? How does it feel and what’s the view like from up there?
I wouldn’t call it difficult; it’s been challenging, shaping and has included loads of hard work, of course. But now, looking back from my current perspective, it’s been an intense and very satisfying experience. I had a four-year gap between my BA and MA studies, in which I did some freelance design jobs along with working on my personal projects. And then, coming back to school was a refreshing change of mindset, where all the focus is put on creativity, experiments and the development of ideas – all supported by this incredible equipment Aalto University offers, as well as the guidance of skilled and demanding dons.

How would you describe your work in three words?
Structural, alluring and horny.
What did you question with your graduate collection?
I was always fascinated by the idea how clothes work as a form of expression and are reflective of belonging to a certain group. Collection X Ring was inspired by a fetish attribute that was worn as a jewellery piece by a friend. It looked like just another accessory but it kept a secret, like a coded language of hidden desires for those who recognize it. And this is the concept behind the collection: each piece keeps a secret by revealing it in a delicate, obscure way.
The colours and materials you’ve chosen for your garments are rather peaceful, even eye pleasing. When it comes to picking colours and fabrics, do you trust your instincts or is it a very conscious, research-based choice? How important is this choice to you?
Material and colour are an inseparable part of the design. They give shape, volume, weight and character. It is equally important to the other aspects; however, I believe that when the research is properly done, choosing materials for the collection can also be an intuitive process, which is just a subconscious base of knowledge.

Your roots are in Latvia. How do you think this influences your creative practice?
Growing up in a tiny post-soviet country with a rather Nordic mentality has shaped my perspective on aesthetics for sure. But it also has created a resistance to the leading beauty standards of the region. That’s why I was always curious to explore other places, with a more open-minded environment. I think the beauty of all this is in the mixture of different experiences, and that definitely shapes my perception of aesthetics.
Have you lived somewhere else in addition to Latvia and Finland? If yes, what have these other places contributed to the person you are today?
I have lived in Berlin for about five years in total and have spent some time in Antwerp as well. Berlin, with its laid-back temperament, makes room for authenticity, if this word is relevant nowadays at all. The acceptance and high tolerance which is so present in Berlin make people more relaxed about their appearance but definitely not careless. The very present party scene, flea-market culture and second-hand shopping define the leading insider trends, which definitely has left some influence on me as well.
How lucky are you and why?
I am lucky because I haven’t lost the feeling that I can trust life.

Does fashion matter? Why?
It does and it does not, as much as everything else in this world. To me, it is something that tickles my brain, and that is the reason why I’m doing it. But then again it is just a part of the general flow that runs life on Earth. And if it exists, it matters.
What do you expect to be your contribution to the fashion industry? What are your expectations and goals?
I’m very excited to see how the fashion industry is transforming along with its consumers, as it becomes more conscious – at least from the outside. In many cases, the sustainability aspect is no longer a compromise. Nowadays, the second-hand culture makes upcycling not only sustainable but also attractive. The brand Paviljons Studio, which I collaborate with, works with high-quality dead stock materials, fair trade and limited production, which means no leftovers. Those are the aspects I truly care about, yet it does not put any limitations on the design. I would really like to continue my work on a bigger scale by keeping the same approach. It gives me the freedom to create with a rather clean conscience.
In five years from now, where do you see yourself being and what do you see yourself doing?
I love being in a state of rhythmic change, therefore I believe the project work is the most exciting and fruitful for me. However, I find teamwork incredibly inspiring, being among other talented and equally motivated people levels up creativity, and since fashion works in cycles, I’d love to be part of some collective with similar views but different qualities and abilities.

Nikola Čemanová
Sofia Okkonen
Aiga Ozo Ozolina
Tuomas Laitinen
Sonia Komarova (Freyja Models)
Hair and make up
Anete Sidlovska

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