Lika Volkova, Closets
Lika Volkova

As tiny as she is strong, Lika speaks of how it is the person that creates style and not the clothes, while standing in a multi-colored shapeless dress with a rich tribal color combination of her own design - I bought it on the spot. Tucking her arms in and losing all visible shape of her body, she says it's a matter of feeling yourself in every location. "You would never see a graceless tiger or bear... nothing but your movement can make you fat or skinny." A designer who comes at her designs like a poet writes a poem, Lika is committed to making things that don't have momentary value and would not be fashionable for a season, even if she has to compromise a certain amount of beauty, like her handbag made from a ball. So repelled by the notion of an "it" bag, she made a bag from an old ball. (I get the protest. I have one messenger bag that almost never changes.) Like her question mark motif on another bag, Lika is comfortable with uncertainty and her questioning is seductive in its edginess. For those that don't want the heavy commitment of a suit but want the feeling of a uniform, her cutout one-piece gives you the feeling that you can get out of it and still be dressed. It is more like an architectural accessory that you put over something else and in her case it is over running shorts that, like everything else on her, looks avant garde.

As a designer, Lika is most interested in the construction of clothes and people's reactions to them. It is born out of her fascination with the "complexity of creatures" that makes it difficult for her to make objects without function, like her dress that has a pocket across the chest for keys and lipstick or her spherical sheepskin cocoon coat that represents both a sense of freedom and privacy in its ability to occupy space. Born in Odessa to artist parents and raised in Moscow during her teenage years amid the fall of communism, Lika is unusually familiar with the intricacies of humanity. Before the collapse, she says of communist society, "There was a certain freedom to express yourself in that you didn't have to worry about money when it came to your work." In the community of artists where she lived, "You belonged to yourself and you were only responsible for your own actions. You were not part of society, which was possible back then." Suddenly everything ceased to exist, she explained. "Imagine if all of a sudden what's the essence of the American system... money, imagine if all of the sudden, you didn't have to pay your rent."

If you love Lika, you may also like Raquel Sanchez Montes, Valeria Likhova and Sam Quartin.

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Dispelling Beauty Myths