Sitara 2019: A Chat with Anastazja Romanow
Article by: Simona Mezzina
St Andrews’ fashion season - it’s officially over. Time to pack away your sequin dresses and your shiny shoes because, after two intense months of preparation and an unspeakable amount of money spent, the circus has left the town. 2019 certainly was a great year for our fishing village’s fashion scene, giving the town its annual dose of international fashion, champagne bottles and hot models.
In the middle of all this, Sitara was proof of its potential to become one of the most established shows in town, shifting the focus back on what really matters: the fashion showcased. Beyond the unfortunate weather and equally unfortunate location, the true protagonist of the show was undoubtedly the amazing fashion, bringing to the audience some of the most promising names in the industry. For an event which wished to capture both heritage and progress, Sitara excelled when it came to the looks presented on the runway.
With an impressive number of designers – over 30 between the two acts – the standard was incredibly high, but some certainly left a stronger mark on the audience than others, due to the evident talent and exuberant creativity of their designs. Honourable mentions go to brands like Zaw, whose collection I interpreted as a BDSM version of 1990s Armani menswear suits, and the Italian Simona Milone with her ‘1950s-meets-enchanted forest’ series of embroidered dresses.
One name, however, caught my eye for its uniqueness and bold prints. Anastazja Romanow was an absolute show-stopper and for all the right reasons. Unaware of who she was and intrigued by her name, I had to look her up online. A Sheffield Hallam University graduate, the fashion and print designer presented her graduate collection titled 'BALLETS KAZIU' on the Sitara runway, a collection that had more to say than what met the eye. So, I decided to get in touch with her through the powerful medium of Instagram DMs and ask her a few questions.
She told me that the inspiration behind this collection was the life of Kazimierz Lewandowski – her grandad, who had passed away at the beginning of the design process. “He was much of a father figure [to] me and I wanted to honour his life by creating [these] fashion pieces”, she said. “I also focused on his life values and looked at Frida Kahlo, Nureyev, the Russian Royal Family, the Orthodox Church and Ballets Russes to support them”. This explains the presence of Orthodox crosses and icons on pieces like a bright pink sleeveless leotard and a red crop top. Yes, a men’s leotard and crop top. Anastazja’s collection, celebrating the life and values of her grandad, was an astonishing display of colourful gender-fluid fashion. Pleated skirts, net dresses and bodysuits were reinvented for the bodies of the very masculine models: a strong statement to show how sex appeal does not depend on a black suit or leather jacket.
The print patterns, all designed by Anastazja, were meant to show “Lewandowski’s funny, rich and wild personality”, and they certainly hit the mark. Red-and-white stripes, pink animalier, green-and-gold chains and crosses: it was an explosion of a flamboyant Quentin Crisp-ian style mixed with Mexican wrestlers’ gear. In terms of materials, she chose “a combination of cotton twill for more structured pieces like jackets and trousers, and Lycra for leotards, leggings and pants”. Meanwhile, she used “very delicate fine net for the dress, skirt and top, and rich velvet for the red jacket and two sweatshirts”, which made them incredibly pleasing to touch (yes, I sneaked backstage just to touch them).
To conclude our chat, I asked her what message she wanted to convey in this collection, considering how personal and heartfelt her project was. She explained that the collection was created to keep her grandfather alive in her heart and “to inspire others to do whatever they want in life”. This is possibly the best lesson fashion can teach: being brave through individuality. “I created my own ballet performance to celebrate him and his life”, and I honestly couldn’t have thought of a better way to end our conversation. When designers pour heart and expertise into their creations, a masterpiece is often guaranteed.
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