Muscovite photographer Yulia Gromova sees photography as her profession as well as her obsession. But beyond that, she launched fashion brand Ypsilon in 2014 due to the large visual culture acquired working at prestigious magazines such as Dazed and Numéro Russia. Dedicated to the contemporary, self-sufficient woman, and using cotton and other fine fabrics as the outstanding choices, Yulia and her team create visual universes in a theatrical way, keeping a subtle connection with nature and the environment of the city. Now we discover their latest collection, Grand Opening.
Hi, Yulia! Could you please put us in context and tell us where you come from, what is your professional trajectory and what are you currently involved with?
My name is Yulia Gromova. Originally, I am from Kostroma, a little ancient town on the river Volga, very cosy and beautiful. Now I live and work in Moscow. I studied in London during five years. First, I did my BA in Photojournalism at University of the Arts London. Then, I did an MA in Journalism at City University. I’m currently a full time photo editor and producer of Numéro Russia. Before Numéro, I interned at Dazed and Confused and The Sunday Times Magazine. I also won The Sunday Times' Emerging Talent Photography award. So, photography is my profession.
And how was Ypsilon born? How many members take part in it?
The idea of creating a brand came to me when I was interning at Dazed in 2014. Probably it was an insight caused by absorbing too much fashion-related information on a daily basis. I thought it’d be interesting to experiment with a fashion brand in Russia. It all started like a game – we did our first capsule collection and presented it on a music festival market, people liked what we did, and we decided to move forward.
The core team of Ypsilon is now formed by four people: me, as creative director; my sister, in charge of our basic line and production; our sales manager and a technical designer. We work with a factory in my hometown, and they support us a lot.
You have released four collections so far. Does each one of them have a distinct concept or do they all follow the same discourse?
We had to learn everything from scratch and work a lot relying solely on our vision and intuition. I guess our collections, from the first till the current, have gradually become more sophisticated, technologically and conceptually. But the initial idea of minimalism and functionality is still prevailing. For Grand Opening we worked with an invited stylist, Emelie Hultqvist, who also styled the shoot. To work with someone from the outside was a really interesting and enriching experience – it helps you to refresh and narrow down your ideas, in a positive way.
So what are the main changes you've undergone since the start of the brand?
There’s been a substantial change in Ypsilon as a brand. We've become more aware of production nuances, of rules in the Russian fashion market. We've learned how to communicate within the team and to the outer world. We’ve found dozens of retailers in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I guess we've become seen in Russia. However, our concept is still developing, we’re still in the process of constructing our DNA and finding our niche.
What type of women does Ypsilon target ? Do you consider these garments to be accesible and affordable for everyone?
Ypsilon targets a woman who’s always in search for self-development. She’s a modern nomad, a jet setter, always in tune with the zeitgeist. Our garments are very affordable, the price rarely goes higher than 100-150 euro. And people in Russia want to buy Ypsilon, especially now, as prices for European brands have rocketed with all this economic turbulence.
Which kinds of materials are you interested in? Which ones do you tend to use?
It took us a long time to figure out the materials to work with. We really like cotton, wool and silk, but we're also very excited about new hi-tech, futuristic stuff, like neoprene, which we work with a lot.
In your collections’ lookbooks one can appreciate a relationship between the garments and the environment. Do these external influences inspire your design or is it just a coincidence?
The process of creating an image is my favourite part. For a young brand like Ypsilon, the presentation of a lookbook is a way to replace the showcase. You need to do something visually interesting to standout. We've worked conceptually on every lookbook; I strive to create an emotionally charged story, as the feeling you get from the collection by seeing the pictures means a lot.
The aesthetics of your last collection, Grand Opening, remind me a lot of the sceneries in Wes Anderson’s films…
The cinematic feel you get from the Grand Opening lookbook is not a coincidence. We were inspired by the 50s aesthetics, Hollywood, the Oscars, the red carpet... One of the references for the story was How to Marry a Millionaire from 1953. On the shoot, we decided to recreate the situation of Grand Opening, when the model is kind of giving a speech. We wanted to emphasize a theatrical and staged atmosphere. Grand Opening turned out to be very posy, which we really like, as opposed to the raw style with which so many designer and photographers work at the moment.
It’s funny that you mentioned Wes Anderson. For me, this shoot has something Lynchean to it. Maybe because of the curtains and the blue carpet! So you never know what meanings people will find in you work after it’s been released.
What are your upcoming goals?
Our main objective in the nearest future is to establish relationships with stockists in Europe. And another goal is to launch an online magazine with e-commerce function.
Last but not least, how would you define fashion?
Fashion is a very important part of visual culture. For me, personally, it’s a tremendous amount of work and fun!