Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Elena Starostina ("ES") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

ES : Well, I have always dreamt of working with wool. Or should I say, different knitting materials always used to make me dream of what would become of a small ball of wool. It all started very long ago, when I discovered the great tactile and visual sensation of a small ball of wool in my hand. It was thin cashmere of that deep dark blue ink colour, and I started scrutinizing the thread structure. To expand my knowledge a little, I started studying different materials, reading about wool and its properties, types, and then studying wool fabric types. Later on, I found it really necessary to receive a bit of profound knowledge, so I chose a school named "Fashion factory" in Moscow, where I studied two courses, one of which was dedicated to knitwear manufacture, and then the other one was about infants wear.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

ES : I love fashion; however that would be too simple. I love good quality things, and I love to fantasize on what design could have been the result of using this or that type of yarn. I love thinking of different, and at the same time smart combinations of various sorts of yarn. The background of these all is a long-lasting dream to bring to life all those diverse designs that could have come out using my japanese knitting machine I bought quite some time ago.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

ES : I decided to become a knit wear designer on the peak of my financial career in my early fifties. However, even before I used to dedicate almost all my free time to knitting, both handmade knitting and machine knitting.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

ES : I design knitwear for girls and women under the brand name LadyAlready, giving preference to small princesses. All the latest models are on our page in Instagram. My design focus is never the same, so it's hard for me to say if I give preferences to some designs over the other designs. The latest trends are always those of the world fashion. Therefore I constantly search for new forms and styles. And it is hard to predict how the style of my designs will change the next year, as sometimes one small detail is enough to change the whole concept of the new collection.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

ES : Like every other professional, I think it's the question of working a lot and never giving up the idea of developing your dream into something else.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

ES : Well, my concept of a great designer consists of several ingredients: - Know well modern working materials; - Be flexible and ready to go out and start everything from the very beginning; - Be curious and not to be afraid to experiment, even if you understand that sometimes it leads to nowhere. However later on, you will recognize that the past experience was precious! - Love what you do and do not have problem envying someone greater: all in all, the envy is the engine of the humankind progress. - Be ready to lose everything to start over. - Keep watching the latest changes in the industry.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

ES : In my opinion, a good design is the one that reflects the current fashion trends. It also needs to have some certain style marks. And, certainly, the notion of a good design is a personal opinion: its criteria are never the same for all of us, so in this respect, I think, a good design is the one that is chosen by the customer.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?

ES : The core value is to be able not just to attract a customer, but also to make him stay with your brand. The designer and the customer are in this respect inseparable, as the development of each of the two always depends on the other one. After all, the two sides create the demand and the offer.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

ES : I would still keep designing women´s and girls´ knitwear. And that would have been the manufacturer or the customer whose style in general is similar to mine.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?

ES : I think, such dream project does not exist, as long as the working process implies that each new project is innovative. So in the end it is equal to realizing every once in a while a new dream project.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

ES : Secret ingredients in designing of knitwear depend on the time of the year and the country you live in. The priorities are different in the countries with mild and severe climates. However, I would focus on designing a comfortable wear design in the first hand.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

ES : Those are the legends of fashion industry whose models and images I frequently turn to in search for details. They are Karl Lagerfeld, Coco Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Loro Piana.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?

ES : Among others I could name Loro Piana and Ralph Lauren. They meet my main requirements, which are high quality materials, overall comfort and style that I like.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?

ES : Lately I have been focusing on using eco-friendly materials in my collections. I think it is great because it is protecting the environment, but at the same time it keeps being in trend, meets the customers' requirements and goes with the fashion. Please send us an email and ask for a latest knitwear online collection: lady@ladyalready.com.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

ES : To be a better designer one needs to stay in profession and incessantly watch for new trends and ultimate changes. It is important to see the fashion development in process, and designer's best friends here are fashion magazines and their internet websites, where the fashion magazines place all the updated information quicker. Subscribing to the latest news or newsletters could also be an idea. Watch fashion-show videos. And, definitely, subscription to Instagram accounts is a must. You can subscribe to my Instagram by following this link: https://www.instagram.com/ladyalready/

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?

ES : I would have most probably become a watercolour painter. But including then I would not stop knitting.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

ES : Design is art and creativity. Design is everything that we see around us, even if we don't really like it. Design is... my work.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

ES : Well, I think, in this I should pay the best tribute to my family. They give me inspiration to create my designs and the most successful ideas of LadyAlready are born when I look at my grand-daughter.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

ES : An endless strive for helping people look good and a strong belief that knitwear has all the potential for ruling the fashion industry.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

ES : I see the obstacle only in promotion of my designs. The end-customer should know where to find me. Therefore I am searching for promotion opportunities.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

ES : The best way to present designers' work is to find the core idea upon which there will rest the whole collection. It is the idea that makes it all attractive and gives inspiration both to the designer and the target recipient.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?

ES : You are welcome to visit my page in Instagram. There you will see the latest trends and all the future collections of mine. https://www.instagram.com/ladyalready/

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

ES : My ultimate goal as a designer is to shift the customers' expectations.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?

ES : People expect something new all the time. As the people's eyes are already pretty familiar with the majority of the designs, and especially when we are talking about knitwear. Therefore, they are waiting for extravagancy not violating the laws of elegance, for something brand-new, but very classical at the same time. They search for new details and elements of style. And I will be there to offer them all they can expect.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

ES : Design is art, and art is culture. As a part of culture, the design makes the world better.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?

ES : I am currently working on the idea of a new design, a multi-use knit converter. Please write me an email and ask for my latest look-book: lady@ladyalready.com

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

ES : I guess, those were the projects where my design ideas fully coincided with those of my customers' expectations.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

ES : I would like to expect that the majority of designers use eco-friendly materials. As to the knitwear, I would still choose high quality materials, but getting them in a manner that causes less negative impact on animals.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

ES : The design field will keep changing, but the fashion cycles will definitely repeat, therefore the design future, in my opinion, is in the smallest details which number is endless, but every new detail is capable of providing a new fresh look and style to the designer thing.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

ES : Depending on the idea, the inspiration, and the materials the period can be from 1 to 3 weeks.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

ES : I start with taking out a number of woollen yarn of different colours. Then I try to imagine what new designs could come out of that. I could think of a new model for up to two weeks before I start knitting. And sometimes I start with drawing a model.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

ES : The things one wears ought to be beautiful, eco-friendly and well-made.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

ES : I think there are situations when the design sets the trends, but I know from experience, that the majority of the designs are set by the trends. Therefore, I think trends and designs are just two neighbouring notions, prevailing one or another depending on the particular circumstances.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

ES : Technology plays a substantial role in my design, as long as without the technology creating some of my products would simply not be possible.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

ES : I use my Japanese knitting machine.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

ES : In my particular design the role of color, materials and ambient is crucial, as the knitwear is first of all a part of an image in which we imagine ourselves. It has some romantic ambient, for example, a cold sunny autumn day or a nasty winter day, - the day may be whatever you imagine it, but the imagination itself is important, because putting the model on you are putting on the image you have in your mind as well. And then come the materials and the color, also parts of the same romantic image.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?

ES : "Where can I buy this?"

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

ES : "Why hasn't it come to MY mind first?"

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

ES : My ideal design partner is the end-customer, as long as it is his expectations I need to meet. I do believe in co-design, but then your point of view must coincide in the majority of the details with that of your customer's.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?

ES : Sometimes my end-customers present me with a good idea which plants there in my head and lives for weeks until I know what to do with it. However, the majority of my design is purely my original concept.

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?

ES : I would say, they are the fairy tales where I take my inspiration from. The rest of work do the fashion magazines.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

ES : I exchange experience with other designers, also ask my customers to review the models and provide their feedback on a regular basis. Definitely, I read all the technical information regarding the latest changes in the yarn production and keep my eyes on the latest fashion trends.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?

ES : I would love to talk to Karl Lagerfeld or Coco Chanel. And maybe come other greatest fashion trendsetters.

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?

ES : It is easy to be famous, but it is hard to keep famous and relax on the recognition of today, as "today" is already a "yesterday" from the point of view of our successors.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

ES : I love blue colour; in the rest I have no preferences: I enjoy it all.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?

ES : It was my first real knitting project that I had to redo three times.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

ES : I love watching yarn of different colors. That gives me inspiration and new ideas to create.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

ES : Yes, indeed, it was obvious that I would become a designer, as I have been making baby-doll clothing together with my grandmother since I was five.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?

ES : I guess, the majority of things will remain the same, however, the design will definitely change, and, what's more important, the materials and the technology of their production will change, as there will not be available that many natural resources. However I expect that by that time in the long future people will still follow the fashion.

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?

ES : For everything my fans would like to know about me, my design and updates in my collections, please follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ladyalready/



Lady Already Premium Brand for Kids

Lady Already Premium Brand for Kids by Elena Starostina

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