Sasha Amplituda is a dancer and a designer from Saint Petersburg. She has started her career in the GRIPP Research Institute, but now Sasha creates futuristic clothing from building materials and teaches dance. Today, her team, House of Bonchinche, is already 10 years old, and it is the first dance Vogue House representing Vogue culture in Russia.
Work with celebrities: made clothes for Yolka music video and her project ЯАVЬ, worked with Valeria, Elena Letuchaya, Ani Lorak, Kristina Orbakaite, Klava Koka, Anna Sedakova, her garnment also appeared in the wardrobe of former lead singer of Nu Virgos Albina Dzhanabaeva, her body corsets were in the Allj music video, and also in the video clip “Not enough for me” of Olga Buzova.
Sasha, how did you become a designer?
As a child I liked to follow fashion, to watch fashion shows, I dreamed to wear trendy outfits, but there was not enough money for that. My mother helped me to sew dresses similar to Alexander McQueen’s one, as he was impressing me a lot. Being a student at the university, I tried to make a copy of his dress.
I returned to this when started to make costumes for myself as I dance, and Vogue is not only a type of dance, but also a costume story. I was making the theatrical costumes for battles, balls and girls, who did the go-go dance.
Gradually my costumes became in demand, and I invested in a small presentation to show how these all look like together, so, I came up with a micro show idea at a dance event.
Then I became a participant of Sobaka.ru competition “New names in design” by the skin of my teeth. Two days before the deadline I called to my photographer friend, thin friends, who look like models, and a friend who has a studio with cyclorama, and told them: “Girls, save me, I have no money, I have nothing, but tomorrow I have to post a photoshoot and win the competition”. And all this happened.
Did you have any difficulties on your pathway?
There are no difficulties if you have ambitions. They can lead you anywhere, to any point and to the most insane accomplishments. Also, if there is still a connection with children’s complexes, such as an honor student syndrome, it can bring you even further.
To be honest, I still feel embarrassed to call myself a designer, because I do not have any degree in this sphere, as indeed in dancing. However, I have already reached a certain level and status in dancing, so I can confidently say that I am a dancer, but I am a little in doubt when talking about design.
Did you miss the Research Institute?
No, not at all, except when I was visiting my sister in Finland. She works on Parkinson’s diseases, and I was given a pass to her laboratory. That time I thought if we had such labs in Russia, I would never leave the science. Unfortunately, we have very few of them, and all basic science is still in the decline state, and it is very offensive and disappointing that people who should be responsible for this are responsible for something different.
What did you work on at the research institute? What is your major?
I graduated from the Polytechnic University, all my dynasty is from there: my grandfather graduated from there, my father, aunt, grandmother worked there, so, the only thing I chose myself that time was the department. I wanted something related to biology, and I chose biophysics. I was writing my thesis already working at the research institute. I was developing an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for detecting antibodies for influenza and herpes. Before that I worked in laboratory where we studied brain proteins.
That’s wondering how the things have changed. I heard that in order to determine your destiny, you need to remember what you loved to do in your early childhood, as since that time the talents appear.
Well, it doesn’t work for me that way, because in my early childhood I loved to build houses for dolls, to make furniture, carriages, but not clothes at all. In any case, I liked to be creative, to create. Perhaps, this can be referred to the fact that now I am mainly creating from building materials, since I haven’t got to the construction site (laughing).
Why did you choose plastic as a material?
First, although I can sew, I don’t like it. People often ask why do I not hire seamstresses, but this is a difficult process for me, to involve other people, to organize their work. I don’t see any necessity for this, it’s easier to do everything myself.
I chose plastic because I like this material. I like to work with it, touch it, change it, twist it, bend it, apply something to it and see its ideal gloss. Also, it is the most futuristic material I know. I like this cyber aesthetics, i.e., space flights, when everything is smooth, streamlined, strange and a little Japanese. In fact, Japan is the strangest and the most incomprehensible country for our mindset. All this surprises and fascinates me. I like the country’s culture, the anime that I liked as a child, perhaps, made an impact on me.
Sasha, how did you come up with an idea of body corsets?
I wanted to create things which stand in sharp contrast to others, did not want to make another black dress. And everything worked, so, it is impossible to highlight anything specific. For example, I have a passion to armor and aesthetic of female body, but not fully open, as I was brought up such way so that I had a wish to make it look decent.
There is a probability that I have some images in my mind, but I do not put explicit meanings deliberately, I just take a piece of plastic and start to create, I crease it, bend it, and suddenly something appears, and I focus my attention on this.
Did it take a lot time to come to your style?
The style has started from the moment when I had to make a costume for a Vogue competition ball, there were different topics suggested, and I had one dedicated to McQueen. I made a suit for myself and realised that I can develop it further, make it more complicated.
Honestly, I don’t even know how this happened. A lot of factors had impacted this: both designers as a hobby and the fact that there was a need to constantly create dance costumes. We performed on MTV, and I made all the costumes, dresses, sleeves and mohawks, from IKEA goffered paper curtain for all of us.
Then, ambitions played their role again. I wanted my own official show, then I won a Mercedes Benz competition with accessories, and I realised that I want to create not only the accessories, but also clothes. For the next fall show I decided to produce my own shoes instead of taking someone else’s. I made 16 pairs, they were Japanese wooden sandals. I planed, sawed, painted at home, it was kind of a challenge.
Where can people wear your clothes?
It is often rented for parties, as now many of them require a certain dress code; for instance, ODYSSEY FESTIVAL holds such parties in St. Petersburg. There are some customers who rent my clothes and do not want to give them back, so they buy that garment. I also dress up myself like this for parties, where I play, for battles, shows and social events.
Do you collaborate with photographers from St. Petersburg for creative shootings?
Earlier I easily gave my clothes for photo shootings, but now I completely switched to rent. I manufacture more complex and expensive costume stories, and to make them pay off, I produce a collection, which can be rented for parties and creative shootings. There are several guys who I have been working with for a long time, or projects that I am interested in. But it is mostly rent, of course.
Tell us about the collection presented at MBFV 2020.
I was thinking to skip that season, so, when Mercedes Benz contacted me and suggested to take part in the online-show, I had to organize everything in a week. Being in a state of stress, we created a collection in short period, which in normal time we never get around to, and as a result, we got a bright collection. Some models, however, have been already presented, but everything is new basically. The clothing line included plastic corsets, tops made of metallic rods, fur coats from holographic tinsel, mesh dresses with space colour compositions, snake bracelets, chokers decorated with pieces of mirror, belts with hands on them. You can find the video on the Internet.
Tell us more about exhibition in Erarta museum, how did you ger there?
There was an international fashion forum, various designers were invited, including Russians. My friend, who made accessories, participated there, and he called me up as he could not find a look for his creations, so, at the last moment I offered him my dress. We decided to write the organizers of this forum with a suggestion of using my look, and they accepted it. All happened spontaneously at the last moment. I can say that getting somewhere by the skin of my teeth is my feature.
2020 turned out to be difficult. How did you spend that year?
I was fine. At the beginning, of course, I thought that I have plenty of time to make a million collections, but I ended up with nothing at all. There was one online group that I was teaching dances two hours a week. The rest of the time I learned how to rest, how not to wake up bug-eyed at 9 am, allowed myself to sleep, to relax in the bath, to do a massage or a mask. Usually, I don’t devote myself so much time, so, I learned how to relax. It was my first vacation since ages.
Are you going to open your own studio?
No, I don’t want to. I feel comfortable working from home, I like doing different things in parallel: making a corset, painting a picture, pouring a resin table top. It’s a bit uncomfy that there is not enough space, but it’s convenient that there is no need to go anywhere, stay in traffic jam, and if any idea suddenly comes up to my mind at night, I have all in hand.
That’s cool that you have such ideas, there is no need to fear your competitors, because no one can think the same way, so, you can always create something original.
That’s true, but on the other hand, there is a feeling that the ideas float in space and can come to different people’s mind at the same time. There was a time, when my designer friends and I created similar things at the same time, posted them o Instagram and then realized it. Although I usually make sure I do everything differently, not like everyone else, sometimes it takes much time to figure out if this is yours, not just an image from the past that was seen once.
Also, it’s a shame when you are copied. You worked hard to make it look like that, changed its form, system, work for several years, upgraded your skills, and then a person appears who thinks: “That’s cool, I’ll make the same”. Again, this leads to the fact that I have to invent even more complex creations to make them look different.
Can you give some advice to creative people who dream of making their beloved hobby as a profession? Do you think it is possible to develop your thinking?
I think, yes! If you do something constantly and systematically, then it is gathering momentum more and more. The only question is how much time you are willing to devote to it. There are no special secrets, you need aspiration, persistence and time. This principle works for any activity.
The most important is to not give up halfway thorough, you must bring your dream till the clear finale. There are no people, who cannot do it, it is just easier for someone to come through it all, and some others are ready to spend their energy, money and work 24/7. Such people will definitely get an outcome, if they do not stop. Many get tired, give up and don’t see that there just a little time remained to reach the goal. That is the reason why only a few people get ahead, going forward only despite any obstacles.