The Student
Creating a canvas on the catwalk: Inga Kovalerova on bringing fashion to life at the ECFS

The Roaring Twenties. Jazz, flappers, speakeasys: the plethora of images that assemble are predominantly that of Western culture. The Russian Far East and its history of tumult and revolution however provides much inspiration for designer Inga Kovalerova. Growing up in Russia until she was 18, Inga brings her fascination with Russian culture to the runway at the Edinburgh Charity Fashion Show in the National Museum Scotland. Nearly a hundred years since the death of the Russian royal family, the collection celebrates the extravaganza of the Romanov empire.

Taking six months to craft, Inga sculpts her designs on a mannequin. Making the textile first, on a stand she starts building from tulle and crinoline. Creating three-dimensional designs with lots of volume and shape, Inga’s designs are avant-garde while retaining a sense of femininity. Her collection therefore innovatively evolves the traditional elegance of Romanov regalia, bringing a modern edge through adopting knitwear techniques to other textiles.

A key aspect of her designs is the use of hand embroidery, translating the wealth and also the fall of a 300-year dynasty. Much like the intricacy of Russian Fabergé eggs, the detailed handwork that goes into creating the garments is something that Inga desires people to take notice of. ‘Beautiful dresses are not just created, they are sculpted, like a piece of art,’ Inga says.

Her collection as moving artwork is visualised through its sophisticated complexity and the sculptural volume of the material.

The fusion between design and art is perhaps inspired by her childhood. Raised by her grandmother who was, in Inga’s words, a ‘skilful lady’ Inga grew up surrounded by culture and talent. Her great great grandfather being a dressmaker and her grandmother skilled in stitch and crochet, Inga was taught how to make garments from a young age. Taken to artists’ studios who worked on classical paintings, Inga learnt to draw various textiles, sketching with an assortment of colour. Moving to Ireland at 19 then London in 2009, Inga decided to achieve a degree in fashion at the University of West London, finishing her masters at the Glasgow School of Art.

With the charity fashion show giving 100 percent of profits to Macmillan Cancer Support and It’s Good 2 Give! Inga loves that as a designer, you have the ability to give something back and spread the love. Despite the rising concern of the coronavirus, causing apprehension about how considerably it will affect the creative field, Inga presents her enthusiasm in the interview for meeting with other designers; being able to collaborate, and rally off other creative minds.

Hoping to attempt other fashion shows in London, and potentially co-operate with singers, Inga’s ECFS collection is one step closer to her ultimate desire to have her own exhibition.

With much to be anticipated for the designer’s fashions, it’s lucky we don’t have long to wait until the 14thMarch. Wearing one of her own designs, Inga Kovalerova is stood to leave the audience all in a state of awe, ready to transport us into a world reminiscent of a distant past but projecting us into the future of fashion.

Beautiful dresses are not just created, they create possibilities for the dynamicity of our wardrobe.

If you’re interested in Inga’s designs, or wanting to collaborate in future projects check out her Instagram inga_kovalerova

Image: inga_kovalerova via Instagram