Thursday 18th November

| BY Nino Sichinava

Nensi Avetisian is Bringing Armenian Food and Culture to Fashion

Nensi Avetisian is an Armenian-born, Moscow-based emerging fashion designer who puts conscious fashion at the forefront of everything she does. Having graduated in 2020 from the British Higher School of Art and Design in Moscow, her creations are already big sellers on APOC Store in London. Bold in self-expression, her work is a connection between modern craft, academic theory, and her Armenian roots.

Avetisian is part of a new generation of creatives emerging from Eastern Europe, who use their work to tackle themes of devastation that was left after the Soviet Union, self-introspection, migration, as well as the significance of identity and native culture.

Her interest in fashion was first sparked during technology lessons at high school, where Avetisian together with her teacher worked till late in the evening to enter various design competitions across Russia.

Being brought up in an Armenian household, she used to listen to her grandma’s affable stories and memories about her motherland, spoken through the Armenian language. Those tales were key for Avetisian in understanding herself better and realising her self-belonging.

This intimate bond with her culture resulted in multiple references to Armenian music, painters, and architecture in her work. One of which is an upcycled black leather structural bag. “That structure was taken from an ancient Armenian church I came across during my last visit to the country,” says Avetisian. The designer challenges herself to make wearable things out of notions that are not connected to fashion at all. As she explains: “I enjoy juxtaposing different themes and playing with it. For example, take the 3D structure from the church but show it as an egg stand.”

For her graduation collection, the designer found inspiration in such academic papers as Barthes R. (1983 [1967]) “Written Clothing” and Thomas S. (2015) “From Green Blur to Ecofashion”, which made her question luxury fashion’s language and its separation from the real world. She developed 3D tight silhouettes with pleating, draping and smocking techniques, a reference to 1950s advertisements from DuPont Cellophane company which illustrated children packed inside bags. “For me, it is important to smartly connect the text and the image together to get the golden mean. Personally, I do not want to put the viewer into the work itself and share the meaning straight away, I want to invite one into the conferral process,” she says.

Releasing her SS22 collection in October, the designer set about connecting food and fashion. Taking her cues from ancient food traditions, and specifically, Armenian cuisine,  Avetisian presents the collection as a menu of different dishes – from smocked dresses inspired by avelyuk (an Armenian type of spinach), to multicoloured leather bags which borrow their appearance from fruit lavash and architectural structures.

Through her collections, the designer upcycles materials, creating bags from old leather jackets and vintage frocks, and using recycled plastic to fashion shoes and jewellery.  “To me, sustainability means honesty and openness, a dialogue between everything and everybody. It is not only about the materials used. It’s about people, working conditions, the language usage, the way we behave on the internet,” she says.

Looking forward, the 23-year-old designer aims to develop her brand with the help of local production and collaborations with Russian and Armenian craftsmen, which will aid the advancement of the local traditional techniques and enlarge the fashion community of both regions.

“For me, the main thing is to preserve creativity with an ethical and philosophical agenda with the growth of the brand. I see the future in which hand-made and artisanal approaches to fashion production will come to the fore,” says Avetisian.

Photography by Sasha Klimov.