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The beautiful voice of Rosalía sounded as the first model graced the catwalk. With platinum blonde hair, an androgynous face with playfully white makeup and a major ruff collar, the model set the tone for the next nine looks, equally mysterious, twisted and unusual. Because that’s what o5o is about: romanticism, tragedy, beauty, art and self-expression.

As part of the Futurum Moscow runway show, a platform founded by Alexander Shumsky – who’s also the founder of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia – that helps young and emerging fashion designers based in the Moscow, Maria Savvina got the opportunity to showcase her brand’s second collection in a row. This time, it was a commentary on overconsumption and sustainability, a pressing issue among the youth around the world, who see their future stolen away by the terrible practices and decisions made by older generations.

This sadness is present in Savvina’s collection for o5o, as well as the beauty of fading and extinction. A trench with dozens of roses attached was a romantic yet poignant critique on global warming and how we’re destroying the existence of millions of other beings. However, her collection was somehow imbued with hope, even celebration. After discovering Maria and her brand during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, we got to sit down with her and speak about her first memories in fashion, beauty canons and her future.

Maria, before we get to know your brand, I’d like to know more about you. What sparked your interest in fashion, and what are some of your earliest memories related to it?
In my childhood, I used to steal my mother’s clothes to cut out tights and socks to make costumes for my dolls, even though it annoyed her. Then, at school, I was interested in Yakut embroidery and traditional applied and decorative art. I also did some clothes related to recycling projects. After graduation, I had to choose between fashion design and foreign languages. I chose the latter and became a specialist in international relations, then I left for Spain and received a master’s degree in PR having graduated from UAB (The Autonomous University of Barcelona). In Spain, I helped my friend Elena sew a collection for Valencia fashion week. She was studying fashion design and I decided to do it too; she inspired me. And thus I entered the British Higher School of Art & Design.
You graduated from fashion design from the British Higher School of Art & Design in Moscow, which works closely with two UK-based universities. How do you feel this educational background shaped your vision of fashion?
Studying in the BHSAD differs from regular Russian universities. The student bears with more responsibilities and he or she depends on his ambitions and motivation. As I have experience studying in Russian and European universities, I can say that BHSAD combined the best of both systems. When it comes to fashion, any life experience is a source of inspiration for me and it influences my design.
In 2016, you founded your own brand, o5o (pronounced ‘ogo’), which translates as something like ‘baby’ or ‘child’ from Yakut, a Turkic language. So I assume you’re Yakut, an ethnic group mainly living in Siberia and Central Asia. In what ways does this identity influence you both on a personal and on a professional level?
Yes, sure. I used to define myself as a citizen of the world, but as time passed, I understood that it’s my legacy. The place where I came from, my culture, is my power and it differentiates me from others. I want to share my culture through my creative work as well.

The collection you just presented at Futurum Moscow during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia is phenomenal. As you explain, it talks about today’s overconsumption – of information, of materials, of resources, etc. How do you materialise this discontent through your garments?
Thank you a lot! o5o’s brand identity is a mix of chaos and minimalism that is visible in various aspects. I consider this issue as a fest in time of plague – extravagance and luxury, ignoring ecological problems. All of this is found in the details of the collection, the historicism of the costumes, the fabrics and the furniture textures underlined by some missing elements. When they are missing, they tend to say even more than if they were present. Also, o5o identifies with the aesthetics of twisted beauty. I collaborated with makeup artist Maria Davydova and created makeups that emphasise the aesthetics of dying, weird beauty.
I particularly loved the trench coat with dozens of roses attached to it; it was a beautiful, romantic and decadent commentary on the environmental crisis we’re living in. How do you approach sustainability as a young designer?
Thank you, romanticism is definitely a part of o5o’s collections. There is a cry of the soul about how fragile and short-lived the look with the roses was. Generally, every piece I make is one-of-a-kind. Speaking about sustainability, it hurts a lot to see how much waste the fashion industry produces. For now, I work in conditions where I can control the waste I produce and I cooperate with companies that recycle materials – I made installations from old clothes for them, for example. At the moment, we’re discussing the possibility of making costumes for a ballet from old clothes and fabrics; I hope we’ll make it!
The models who walked down the runway didn’t follow stereotypical beauty canons – just like your clothes. What is your concept of beauty and how do you see it evolving in the age of social media, Instagram filters and endless possibilities in body modification?
For me, the most important is to make a personality shine. I’m inspired by the people who have inner beauty, people who have something to say. In this runway, for example, I had contemporary artist Dagini, singer Hristina, and photographer Nika walk down the runway; generally, I can say a lot about every person who takes part in the runway.
Physical appearance is not the most important thing to be worried about. Fashion in general is a superficial culture, but I’m glad that people are starting to think about self-acceptance and self-love in the first place. For me, o5o is not about epatage and showing off but about art and embracing beauty of all kinds. That’s why on the runway there were models of different measurements, ethnicities and genders – including transgender and non-binary models. But I don’t want to be known just for this because it should be normal, even though in Russia we have some difficulties accepting this statement.

Almost all shows at Futurum Moscow featured very upbeat, electronic songs. However, you opted for calmer, more symbolic tracks by Spanish singer Rosalía (opening with Bagdad, one of my favourites). What connection do you draw between your clothing and the singer’s music? Why did you choose her songs instead of the typical fast-paced tracks we’re more used to?
Firstly, the romanticism and tragedy of her music touch my soul. For me, every new collection is a burst despite everything. Her music reflects the condition and mood in which the collection was made. Secondly, I miss Spain a lot; Spanish and Latin-American cultures are close to me.
You were showing your collection because of the Futurum Moscow platform, founded by Alexander Shumsky – also founder of MBFW Russia. Tell me more about how does this organization help young designers and how has it contributed to the development of your brand.
Yes, I showed my collections two seasons in a row at Futurum Moscow. For me, it’s an opportunity to show my art to a wider audience, show it to the world. For example, you discovered me.
To finish, what is next for you? Are you already working on next season’s collection?
Yes, of course. I want to show a new collection next season, but every time, there is a struggle between my inner dreamer and the rationalist who’s saying, ‘you need to start doing something that can be more easily understood by people’. For now, the dreamer wins.

Words
Arnau Salvadó
Photos
Ksenia Krutova, Ivan Uminskiy, Ruslan Kirsanov

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