Sergey Grechka: cannibalism, ripping flesh and delicate womenswear

The collection that opened the Central Saint Martins BA Fashion press show, seen in a different light.

The semi-transparent dresses of Central Saint Martins BA Fashion graduate Sergey Grechka have such presence in real life, with soft shapes protruding from each design, yet they take on a whole new persona on film. Shot exclusively for 1 Granary, Nikolay Biryukov translated the collection’s mood rather seamlessly into moving image. “I always pay attention to how the clothes and accessories will move on the body,” says Grechka about his design process, “but the catwalk or a movie definitely add another dimension. The experience of seeing my clothes being shot, the backstage aspect, and the work of the hairstylist and make-up artist, has undoubtedly changed my perception of the collection. In the end they are clothes that are supposed to be worn by women, and editorials make them come alive, in a way.”

Grechka did not have one muse in mind when he created his collection, rather, he focused on the mood of his ideal woman. “She is beautiful, egotistical and brave,” he says, and explains that his designs are for “a modern, fragile but dangerous woman whose perception of gender is blurred.” Though Grechka wishes for gender to remain in flux here, he still tackles some issues that oppose female sexual freedom in his designs, the bold black line across the chest of the model, as seen in some scenes, being undeniably striking in this context. “The censorship element came out spontaneously,” he elucidates. “It is to represent the nudity, the appropriateness, of the female in social media.”

Having spoken before about his interest in the contradiction of a feminine look against masculine behaviour, Sergey explains that he continued this theme in his designs. “I wanted each look to have an abstract element to it, to balance out the feminine colours and silhouettes. All the dresses are transparent, so the underwear becomes another important graphic element adding to the look.” He tells us that sexuality and violence have also been great influencers here. “Dark experiences and events in the past few years had a huge influence on my work as well; it drove my interest in violence, cannibalism, ripping flesh, and rituals of Bacchanalia, which I find extremely beautiful and moving.”

“I’m really happy I could dedicate my final collection to something special and personal, as I didn’t have to worry about marketing and pricing.”

Sergey Grechka AW16 by Nikolay Biryukov

The self-proclaimed perfectionist maintains that his work is heavily introspective, yet the rituals of Bacchanalia he speaks of were secret Roman female-only festivals (with admission later extended to men), which involved group sexual activities, drinking feasts, processions and dramatic performances. Grechka’s engrossment in both his interior interest in this world of transgressive behaviour against his exterior interest in questions of the female form in the public sphere strike a unique contrast that allows for the formation of his remarkable designs. Believing this singular focus came partly from his childhood, Sergey explains that, “I’m an introvert. My childhood and the environment shaped my habits, behaviour and routines. I always had very few friends and used to spend time on my own, drawing or making things with my hands. I would observe the surroundings a lot, finding my place. And I still do. I guess it is partly conscious, as I usually have a clear mind.”

In his own research, we can see this intensity again, which contrasts against his making method which Sergey cites as spontaneous. “I never collect many pictures for research, I prefer to focus on a few key images,” he expands. “When designing, I don’t draw much, I usually have an idea of the silhouette and do a range of spontaneous experiments on the mannequin. I take a lot of pictures and then move on to the details. I know my pattern making skills and 3D vision are my strengths.”

In the five months since Grechka opened the graduate press show, the world has changed far more quickly and drastically than any of us could have predicted, though Sergey has not felt its effects too greatly, instead focusing on recovery after those intense and all-consuming couple of months. “It was such a busy time making the collection, I realised I got detached from the outer world and my family,” he divulges. “It took me a month to recover and I haven’t touched the sewing machine since then.”

After a good two months of rest, Sergey moved to Paris to work as a design assistant for women’s bags at Louis Vuitton. “I do work with the patterns and materials, but it’s different from ready-to-wear, and obviously we work on commercial products. I’m really happy I could dedicate my final collection to something special and personal, as I didn’t have to worry about marketing and pricing. I simply enjoyed working on this project and pushed each part of it to the limit of imagination and my capabilities.”

Words Elizabeth Pllx Photographer Nikolay Biryukov Make up Ksenia Galina

Hair Keiichiro Hirano Model Jingsi Wang

Video editing Edgars Olsevskis and Roberts Kravecs @BlackStormFilms Sound Design Putra de Luxe