Designer Spotlight: Russian designers Alisa and Julia Ruban

In recent years, Russia has landed on the international fashion map with noteworthy designers such as Vika Gazinskaya, who includes interesting demi-couture details such as hand-drawn prints and embroidery in her designs, Lesia Paramonova, who has won plaudits for her label LES with her whimsical floral prints, Olga Vilshenko, who infuses her elegant silhouettes with folkloric prints, and Ulyana Sergeenko, whose couture collections are now regularly presented during haute couture week in Paris.  

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The latest designers to spread their wings internationally are sisters Alisa and Julia Ruban, whose eponymous label, Ruban, recently made its Asian debut, with a new capsule collection presented in Singapore.

Having worked as a stylist for Glamour magazine for five years, Alisa teamed up with her sister Julia, a freelance make-up artist and independent stylist, to launch their fashion brand in 2010.

“We were always creating clothes for ourselves and as we did this many of our friends, as well as people on the streets, commented on our designs.” recalls Julia adding that positive feedback on photographs of Alisa taken while she was in Paris gave them the confidence to strike out on their own. “Alisa went to Paris for fashion week and many popular street-style photographers took photos of her wearing a coat and dress she’d designed. With all the positive feedback we were receiving, we decided that we need to share our designs with others, leading us to start our own brand,” she says.

They have garnered plaudits for their feminine textured designs that play with fabrics such as organza, silk, and cotton.

I talked to Julia about the duo’s work dynamics for BlouinARTINFO.COM:

What has been the biggest challenge so far as a young designer?

For everyone who starts their own business it’s obviously very important to win attention, so both design as well as promotion of the brand, are very important aspects of launching a new label. When we started out with Ruban we worked mostly in this direction. When we started winning over our customers’ loyalty, everything became much easier

How do the two of you work together?

We complete each other; I am more on the commercial side and Alisa is more on the creative side. That is why Alisa is responsible for the Ruban line and I look over the second commercial line, Pe.

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What is the difference between the two lines?

Ruban is absolutely more whimsical and (Alisa) always tries to make our designs more complex. Pe is more about casual every day design at democratic prices.

Tell me about your creative process?

We first think of something in our heads and then we sketch everything. We spend a lot of time choosing the fabrics out of many different samples. All the fabrics are made in Italy as the quality is very important for us. After that we create a sample in different fabrics to see how it looks on the model, make changes and create the final version in the chosen fabric. We photograph every piece we have approved and see how they look together as a collection to understand if we need to edit any look. While the whole process is very creative, it’s also very structured, because it is very important not to lose too much time during this long process.

Do you always see eye to eye?

We argue sometimes, but as we say in Russia, ‘the truth is born of arguments,’ and our disagreements do not lead to fights but help us to come up with great ideas and decisions.

SOnia Kolesnikov-Jessop