There is little that conceptually links Natallia Pilipenka’s seven collections. The fashion designer reflects on different moments and struggles in her life through her passion, making clothes. Pilipenka has had a need to create since her youth: she started with crocheting and expanded her practice to embroidery, knitting, and sewing. Pilipenka completed her studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology and has received various awards throughout the years. Currently, she teaches fashion design at Parsons The New School For Design and participates in InvestFashion.
Pilipenka draws much inspiration from her Ukrainian background; however, she thanks New York for giving her creativity boundless energy. She explains, “NYC is everything, and such a unique city in this way. There is a certain aura of romanticism, dream, opportunity, speed, and raw beauty here. I love the pace of it, it always keeps me busy and the amount of inspiration that I come across every single moment is inspiring by itself.” Like the frantic rhythm of New York, Pilipenka’s process bears no structure. Her practice begins with an idea, which leads to a combination of research, experimentations, obsession, possibilities, and decisions. Each of Pilipenka’s seven collections carries a style contrasting to that of the last, like that of Madonna’s on every new album release. The only theme one can find woven through her collections is her passion for the craft.
Pilipenka’s latest collection, ‘Erased’, is the most serious of all of the designer’s work. “Erased” is her thesis for the MFA Fashion, Design and Society program at Parsons. The designer plays with the ideas of “removal” of something while “highlighting” something else in order to explore themes of identity. Pilipenka was inspired by deconstruction in text and art, in particular the works of poet Stéphane Mallarmé and painter Robert Rauschenberg “The ‘Erased de Kooning’ painting by Rauschenberg presented me with an idea of forced collaboration, as well as the question of whether or not you can remove one’s identity from their work.” Pilipenka pushes the idea of forced collaboration with her choice of technique and fabrics such as devoré, airbrushing, textile, yarn combinations, and knit stitches. Dueling relationships through out her aesthetics, black vs. white, flowing vs. structure, also reveal an exploration of the self in the designers work.
Although Pillipenka’s work seems to take a creative 180 with every collection, it is the quality and love of her craft that remains consistent. Her work portrays issues that were of importance to her at the time, something she needed to resolve at that particular moment.