DANSK Loves Anton Belinskiy

In just a few years, Anton Belinskiy has developed into Ukraine’s prime fashion folklorist, summoning Orthodox iconography from his native village and transposing them into an erratic, theatrical, and glamorous logic. The Kiev designer opened his namesake line in 2011, and have since passed through international contexts of talent recognition such as the LVMH Prize and Vfiles, while stocking in leading stores such as SSENSE, DSM NY and H-Lorenzo. Belinskiy’s sartorial archeology work spans art and fashion, which led to an invititation to participate in the Ukranian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2017 – paving an interesting path ahead for the designer. We sat down with Belinskiy to learn more about the Kiev scene, inspiration, and craftsmanship.

Where are you from, and what marked your first entry into fashion?

I’m from Kiev, Ukraine. My childhood friends remember how we used to draw girls in abstract dresses in art class we had at elementary school. When I look back, it is not necessarily fashion, but rather making clothes have always been on my mind in one way or another.

How was fashion school in Kiev, and how do you think a national education formed your design perspective?
I graduated from an art school and then enrolled in a Kiev-based university pursuing a fashion degree. After some time I realized the education system was incredibly flawed – so old and rusty, still based on Soviet-era standards and norms. This was not an environment where one could grow creatively in the 2000s, years after the iron curtains fell. At a certain point I just left to continue on my own. In no way I can say that the national education system shaped my design perspective, I pretty much learned everything by myself. I appreciate the groundwork I did at the art school, but my whole time at Ukraine’s university system was a complete waste of time.

You often cite your home town and its surroundings as an aesthetic point of reference in your work. Is there an element of biography in your work? Are these references cultural, or more so personal?
Definitely my biography! All my work revolves around my past, my roots, my memories. It is an ongoing memoir of sorts. My references are mostly personal as my family, my friends, my past are my biggest inspirations. And yes, indeed there is always a nod to the cultural landscape around me.
The politics, the society do affect our life. Ukraine is my place of power! But I choose to believe that it’s not the political troubles that shape me and the people that surround me.

Your looks are exquisite for their bold experimentation with materials and textures,which at times feel almost couture-like. Is tailoring important to you?
Of course, tailoring is our job! It’s sad that the most commercially successful pieces nowadays are very simple, very plain and straightforward. I like to create items that might look simple, but upon looking closely you discover more detail, more thought. I strive to create things that beyond looking interesting are also made in an interesting way. I like items that carry a meaning.

Are there fabrics and materials you always see yourself returning to?
Yes, we do use cotton and denim season after season.

Was there a particular moment when you felt recognized internationally?
Not really. It seems to me that I am too young to feel “recognized”. I hope in 10 years
this feeling will come.

You’re joining a cluster of young Ukrainian designers in the international scene. How would you describe Ukrainian fashion – and why do you think there seems to be a momentum for it right now? Is there a sense of peer support among you?
I always connect with my land and my people, but I do not have a feeling that I belong to a certain group or movement. I’d say there is no such thing as Ukrainian fashion, it is rather just designers who stem from a country called Ukraine. From there, we go our different paths.

You’re present in a select set of prominent fashion stores around the world. What kind of growth do you wish to experience in the coming years?
It is actually a dream of mine and my team’s to create a network of small stores in various interesting spots around the globe. Let us see what the future brings!

For more information, see ANTON BELINSKIY