Monday, November 14, 2011

5 Minutes with Louda Larrain

Louda came to Paris from Moscow in 1996 with admiration and curiosity for French culture. With diplomas in hand from the Fine Arts School for gifted children in Omsk (Russia) and from Moscow Institute of Technology, she arrived full of ideas and with a few swatches of hand made fabrics, which were the result of her research in developing new textile techniques.

Miracles happened… Louda receives a telephone call:” Karl Lagerfeld went crazy about your fabrics”. Chanel Couture becomes her first client! Then followed artistic collaborations with Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix, Thierry Mugler, Emanuel Ungaro, Gianfranco Ferre, Leonard, Cerruti, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Torrente, Luis Feraud and etc.

The next miracle happened in New York in 2002. She was shopping at Bergdorf Goodman wearing a Louda jacket when she was noticed. Now Bergdorf Goodman was buying Louda’s clothes. Neiman Marcus came next. America stimulates her to create and produce more and more for the Louda label. She loves it! She works on each piece as if it were a painting. They are all one of a kind, timeless, never out of date, out of touch, out of fashion and always evolving.

Since 2006 Louda lives in New York working on various artistic projects.

In June 2009 Louda’s creations became an instant happening installation at the Temple of Dendur in the Egyptian wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

International exhibitions of Louda art-to-wear in2008 and 2010 in Sanlitun Village and “Zhongguancun” in Beijing (China), 2010 in Seoul Art Center (Korea) and in Atrium City Hall in Den Haag (Netherlands)., West Lake Expo in Hanfzhou (China) in 2011.
And her first one-woman show will take place in Ginza (Tokyo) in 2013.

Q1: What was the first piece of music that you owned and loved?

Louda: You know I am very influenced in this case in my taste in music, when I go through life I let myself be influenced by whatever is in my life. At the beginning my father, who played the trumpet, so he loved very much the classical jazz which was Armstrong, Dina Washington and the music from the 1920’s and 30’s…Western jazz, classical jazz, at the beginning when jazz was merging into the establishment. Then I moved on and was influenced by my husband who loved all these British hard rock groups…Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and so I would follow all this. Ian Gillan, I remember loving Deep Purple, because all the concerts were so different. We had all these CD’s, all the recordings from the concerts, even how the voice of young Gillan would change through the years. There was a song ‘Child In Time’, he was young and then alter on. Then my son, and it was Marilyn Manson and then the group with the masks…Slipknot, and then it went into such dark areas that I could not follow him. Then I moved to New York and then it was tango and flamenco and , well there’s always Tom Waits…Tom Waits forever.

Q2: Your fabric technique, the way you create fabric is very unique. It’s very difficult in this age to be making something entirely new. How did you create that technique?

Louda: Thank you for the compliment. When I was a little girl a gypsy read my palm and said that I have incredible capacity to create new things. It implanted into my brain and so I am trying to prove it is true. The technique just came…it was channeled to me and I just execute it. It is very simple and every piece I make, I love. This is something that people can feel. For example I grew up in Siberia and there was a very poor museum and so I didn’t have the capacity to see original art, so all my education come from books and reproductions. When you see the real artwork, compared to the reproductions the contrast is so tremendous and I think that because artists react a lot to the energy. When artists work we charge the objects with our energy. The technique is part of it, or course but it is more about what the artist feels. I do most of these things myself and when I created designs for Chanel and Dior and Lacroix and many incredible houses and when I look at my archive I can see that what I am doing now is more interesting because I challenge myself and want to go further.

Q3. You had an interesting journey from Russia to Paris and then in New York. Was it planned?

Louda: Let me tell you one thing about Russia. At the communist time your goal, without realizing, was to escape. When I came to Paris this was my first time abroad. I was like, “Oh my gosh”. I went to Paris in November and it was beautiful. I just could not leave after spending a month in Paris. I lived in Paris for 10 years-it took me time to learn French and it took me 3 years before I could tell a story. Luckily my son who was 6 when we moved, he was my best teacher. He learned so fast.

In Russia it was the period of explosion of culture in the early 90’s. All the underground artists came out. Underground music and film…was suddenly available in Russia and after 2 or 3 years it became just about making money. It became so sad.

By 2000 the fashion world of haute couture started to change. There were so few houses left. Big houses shifted, before they would order production from me. By 2000 everything shifted to India and China and they wanted to produce my fabric overseas. Sometimes they would keep the sample and produce it without telling me. What I did for couture would be introduced into t-shirts. So after a few cases like this I stopped showing.
Jean-Charles de Castelbajac

In 2002 I came to New York for the first time I was stopped in the street by people asking where I got the clothes I was wearing. I was asked by a woman at Roberto Cavalli in Bergdorf Goodman, where did I get my clothes. I told her they were my designs and she said “Our buyer is going to call you”. So for a year I was selling in the Artisan section in Bergdorf Goodman. I then received an order from Neiman Marcus and that took all my time. I had a very small collection and I have to say a big thank you to their buyer for the trust they showed. I would love to work with them again on unique pieces because they are amazing stores.

Q4: I want to ask about your teddy bears-how did that project happen?

Louda: Every thing happens in a weird way. There was a kidrobot sale and they had bears that were only $5.00 and I thought what can I do with these? So I created one, and then another one. They started as being just decorative and then I wanted them to become a message. Teddy bears are so important to humanity. They have something to do with the idea of an ‘imaginary friend’. My son had an imaginary dog and we would have to answer my son in the voice of the dog for years.

They are crocheted, embroidered in a small format. The life I have now in New York with Gilles, there are constant photo shoots, someone is always staying at the studio, so the work is more fragmented. So we can have dinners for 5 hours and I can be sitting here working on my bears. It is so enjoyable and not seasonal like clothing.

Christian Lacroix

Q5: Do you think that for you the exhibition process is a good way to work. The show in Japan and the Steven Kasher show. Do you think that’s a better way to work than a fashion show?

Louda: Both are very good-the exhibition is good because it is there for a while. The fashion show is theatre, a fashion show as a medium is a fascinating thing, it’s something I would like to pursue and learn. It’s a fascinating medium. If I can have a fashion show once a year I would be very happy. I would like to do it on a smaller scale. You interact with people- the models and so on. It is also very stressful…a very short period and all the unpredictable things that happen during a show. An exhibition is much calmer. It is very good to bring work out of the studio and I am so lucky to have my designs photographed by Gilles Larrain.

Post-Couture Textile Paintings and Revamped Umbrella Dress Sculptures

Exhibition: November 2 - December 10, 2011
Reception: November 2, 6-8pm

In the back room of Steven Kasher Gallery, coinciding with our Gilles Larrain: Idols exhibition, Louda Larrain will create her inaugural art installation, her "inner sanctum." It will feature deconstructed textile paintings dressing the walls, in addition to a bas-relief of textile sculpture in the form of toys, heads, female and male body parts and other indescribable surprises.

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