Partnerships: they come in many forms. Some are more profound than others. When they do work and result in a beautiful collision of sartorial expression, partnerships are most seductive via observation. It is not easy to discover such moments of stillness, when even a subtle look communicates everything.
Over the past few years, we have followed Victoria/TOMAS very closely. Victoria Feldman and Tomas Berzins met many years ago and began their curious arrangements of garmentry back in 2012. Their story is one of sincere interaction, polite wonder and open hearts. Not only do they communicate with love, attention and expression; they also found a way to translate their unique connection into incredibly sincere bi-annual collections. It is always a pleasure to converse with this dynamic duo, and we were able to catch up with them in Paris. Enjoy their purity.
Foundation: you both are from different countries. Could you tell me about your paths and what first guided you towards fashion design?
V: I moved to France with my family in 2006. Ever since I was young, I was a creative person. Initially, I finished a few art schools before I understood that I wanted to work in Fashion. Maybe in the end, it was the best way to express my creativity and my desire to create useful “things.”
T: Originally I am from Latvia, and I usually mention the word ‘‘accidental’’ when I start answering the question why I chose to work in this field. I actually did not choose it, as I didn’t have other options at the time. I guess the best things are coming out of non-planned and spontaneous decisions. For me, the thing that connects me to clothes in general are the waves; we had in my hometown when I was a teenager many parties, the dressing up and also the memories of my mother, who always was an iconic well-dressed woman to me.
France. The atelier is based along the French Alps. How did you both end up here?
Indeed, it is. It is a most unique place, where we can focus and reflect. At the moment, we work between Paris and the Alps. This allows us to mix urbanism with a certain serenity, to play onto this great contrast. Furthermore, ever since the beginning of our brand’s journey, we decided to build a sincere connection with local craftsmen. As we produce all our garments in France, and by having our atelier in the South, we maintain close access to many supreme suppliers and traditional factories.
Sexes. Masculine or feminine? You have dabbled in both. What are you observations when it comes to these different movements?
We love to strike a balance between our different ideas. Tomas is adding a masculine touch to our womenswear garments. As he is a real gentleman, he wants to find ways to protect woman, which is translated into our collections very naturally. On the other hand, Victoria always thinks more about wearability and femininity. Each collection therefore is a culmination of our dialogues and symbioses. Form and function are equally important to us.
Sartorial. What makes for a true Victoria/TOMAS piece?
Our signature is the re-creation of classic and understandable pieces into unique, yet wearable garments. Each of them shapes a part of a contemporary women’s wardrobe. At times, we end up with a design that appears as a hybrid of several classic elements. Combining stern tailoring with novel textures for instance. Overall, we like to work with experimental and not too overly worked designs in our collections. Next to this, it is very important to us to work with local artisans and fabric suppliers, as we aim to craft pieces of the highest quality.
Survival. Fashion is cutthroat at times, always in turmoil and ever changeable. How do you see our industry?
We want to see the changes in fashion as a good thing rather than as a bad development. For us, it has always been exciting to be part of this roller coaster ride. Without this, it wouldn’t be so interesting…..Indeed it is true that sometimes it is such a cut-throat industry, but challenging yourself is always a good training for your mind and imagination, especially when you are young and ambitious. For the moment, we are intensively creating and curating our world. There are simply so many things to manage. We just do what we love and if this is smartly done it will always arouse interest of the public.
Revive. Let us explore your SS16 collection, it was very rich in textures, contrast and playful elements. Could you dissect the garments for us and tell the readers more about your thinking here?
Indeed we can. As we have a strong passion for traveling within France and discover the unknown, we truly admire its diverse nature and city scapes. The collection is the reflection of our daily surroundings, it represents the freedom and beauty of the Provence and the intensity of Parisian infused with a dash of minimalism. Two different worlds are blending into a well-organized and at the same time cozy line of clothes, that remain contemporary in shape and unique and functional in their details. At the core of the collections we crafted a selection of belted ”cache-coeur” shirts adorned with vintage buttons. These we consistently combined with experimental leather garments with a variety of textures that are lighted up with multi-color suede ruffles.
As we are both emotionally attached to nature’s foliage and the monochrome feel of the streets, we took “timelessness” in consideration, so our collection offers classic black and white stripes, sky blue and beige stone scales with more juicy color touches like: leaf green, lavender purple and pale lime. We were also inspired by traditional lavender collectors, more precisely by their knotted bags, which inspired us to convey the apparent belted and knotted details that are displayed on various garments.
Need. Is there a need for us to reflect more on what we wear and where our garments come from?
Is there a need…? Not sure if many people care nowadays. It are those rather big logos on clothes, that are attracting attention today. For us, this does not always justify the price tag applied. Like any trend in fashion, this is also a period that will pass by sooner or later and people will turn their eyes towards the inside of the garment again. First of all, we should wear what we like, not what trend system dictates.
Trigger. Victoria, what triggers you in Tomas his character?
V: His sincerity and openness to the others. As a professional, I appreciate his eye for detail, his patience and Tomas his unique personal viewpoints.
Speak. Tomas, what words do you remember that Victoria once told you?
T: Unfortunately, I cannot tell you any precise quote from Victoria, as we talk so much every day. She always cheers me up at the right moment and instills confidence in our work, on moments when I start loosing it. She is a perfect partner, in both our professional and personal lives.
Vivacious. You have been able to craft a curiously different and refreshing universe. How do you wish for things to unfold in the coming seasons? What challenges do you see and what accomplishments would mean a lot to you?
We just try to build a world of our own, by being social and not ignoring everything that surrounds us. Currently, we work closely with wonderful team of the Federation Francaise de la Couture, who are supporting us since our SS16 collection. We hope to increase our stockists of course and to meet new people constantly. The future is so unpredictable and we are ready for any possible challenges that definitely are waiting along the way towards achieving our goals.
Conclude. As you know, I like to close by connecting with new talents, as we should support them. Let us by sending some strong words to these new hopeful creators, perhaps some things you learned yourself?
Well, building your own fashion label is not only about creativity. It is a huge puzzle of small, but important interconnected parts. If you skip or loose even one of them, your image will never be completed. Therefore always stay focused, curious and ever friendly and social.