TRUE FASHION, NOT A GARDEN VARIETY
Only a few fashion stylists in the modern world can say that they have more than 20 years of experience. Galina Smyrnskaya is one of them. Fashionista, model, artist, and fashion stylist, she is always playing multiple roles. The photo shoot of the June issue of La Botanica is not an exception.
La Botanica: Could you give us a quick over- view of your career?
Galina Smyrnskaya: I started my artistic passion as a painter in the art school and later studied in Textile Academy. After graduation, I began working as a clothing designer in a private office. In the early 90s, I took part in the creation of the collection for the MESSE fashion week in Düsseldorf. In parallel, I worked as a model on fashion sets and music videos. My life was already going in full swing! However, the next step in my career was not any less exciting.
It started from my huge magazine collection: I-D, TANK, DAZED and CONFUSED. I covered walls with the torn out pages from these magazines and photo albums. In the mid-90s, when the first magazines started
to appear on the Russian market, I became
a part of the pioneering group of fashion stylists. I worked as a freelance stylist with newly born L’OFFICIEL, ELLE, MARIE CLAIRE, WALLPAPER magazines in Moscow.
By the way, I never thought about becoming an editor. The loss of freedom would make me lose interest in working.
LB: What were you dreaming about at the beginning of your stylist career?
At the beginning of the 2000s, for the first time in my life, I decided to write ten wishes, and one of them was: “I want to work with the photographer David LaChapelle.” I greatly admired all of his work. Magically, the wish became reality. Soon after, Rus-
sian magazine PLAYBOY invited him to Moscow. But not everything went as I had dreamed. As a matter of fact it became my worst job experience. It was a huge set with a large crew of producers who were all wishing to contribute to the project by giving me suggestions. Collective efforts backfired and created chaos rather than helped.
I was so relieved when the day ended. After this experience, I decided that in the future, I would formulate my desires in more detailed fashion.
LB: What is the like to go through the pro- cess in preparation for a photo?
GS: The search for an original idea is one
of the most important steps of the process.
I am inspired by everything that surrounds me: films, exhibitions, nature, people on the street, painting. Next, to prepare for a shoot, I need a week to make sketches, to commu- nicate with a photographer, a makeup artist, to discuss the light, color, mood, and choose models. I need to live through the fashion story, feel it, that helps me complete it in my imagination.
LB: Influences of other art forms are very pronounced in your work. What were some of the pieces that inspired you the most?
GS: One of my favorite artists is an early Re- naissance painter Paolo Uccello. First time I saw his work “The Battle of San Romano” in the London National Gallery, I felt captured. I stood in front of the painting for an hour, I was struck by his particular selection of color and mixed perspectives in work’s composi- tion, which made it look very modern.
My other inspiration source is film. I particu- larly admire film director Jean-Pierre Melville.
He was able to combine multiple roles within himself: he directed, wrote scripts, and creat- ed decorations for his films.
He was one of the reasons why I began to combine the work of a stylist and a model.
LB: You are, in fact, almost the only stylist in Russia who has appeared in front of the camera as a model. How did this happen?
GS: Someone once remarked that I resem- bled David Bowie and since then I started hearing these comments more and more often. A year later, this idea became firmly established in my mind. I decided to make a photo session dedicated to David, reflecting different periods of his work. I called one stylist and then a second, but they answered: “Yes, cool! But I’m busy now!” And then I decided to get out of my comfort zone and combine my skills. The result exceeded my ex- pectations! After that photoshoot, it became much easier and more enjoyable to combine two specialties.
LB: How can you describe the idea of your project for La Botanica Magazine?
GS: The theme of this photo shoot was born in the process of preparation. When we start- ed to discuss the ideas for the series, I was reading the biography of Leonardo Da Vinci. I have learned that Leonardo in the process of creative searching to create models of his inventions used scrap materials, anything that could be found in his studio. Those could be anything from bread to vegetables, or fruits. That is how jewelry in the form of aircraft models made of organic material was born.