Photos by Manfred Ungar feature Nico in Lotta Volkova.
You probably already know her under the name Lotta Skeletrix, her previous menswear label mixing post-punk and dark electronic influences, but now Lotta Volkova is back with an eponymous womenswear label.
Born in Vladivostok, the very east end of Russia, Volkova saw the downfall of the communist empire and the rise of still exotic capitalism while going to school, skydiving, playing piano and learning English through metal music lyrics. She recalls her first fashion memory as a glimpse of the ’90s Jean Paul Gaultier-presented TV show “Eurotrash” on a pirated channel.
At 17, Volkova moved to London to study film and photography at Central Saint Martins and became one of the city’s leading nightlife personalities. She even hosted the underground art event Kashpoint. In 2004, she started her own menswear label after being asked by Rei Kawakubo to produce for Dover Street Market some of the pieces she’d been making for herself and friends. From there, Lotta Skeletrix went international, with shows in Paris and London and stockists all over Europe and Japan. She became, according to i-D Magazine, “the uncrowned queen of the underground”.
In 2006, Volkova decided to close Skeletrix and concentrate on her art and photography. She moved to Saint Petersburg for a couple of months before settling in Paris, where she started styling for magazines like Dazed & Confused Japan, Tokion, Rodeo and Harper’s Bazaar Russia and working with photographers like Ellen Von Unwerth, Mark Pillai and Marcus Mam. During this time, the idea of launching a womenswear label began slowly developing in Volkova’s mind, a dark and sexy collection with the very personal touch that makes her successful at everything she does.
The concept became a reality this year with the label’s launch. Sold exclusively at the charismatic Maria Luisa Paris boutique, the Lotta Volkova collection is built around black and white cotton and wool shirts and dresses, which are topped with leather or denim harnesses, here, and all-over ruffled layers, there. Sometimes they are enhanced with studded collars or shoulders. The enticing and peculiar aesthetic mixes musical influences with hints of fetish, avoiding inspirational clichés with Volkova’s usual ease.
While she likes to quote the ’90s Garbage hit “I’m only happy when it rains” as a state of mind, with a collection like this, it’s safe to say Volkova’s happy in Paris, rainy or not.