ZARA FLORA | Don’t Call It Ikebana

ZARA FLORA | Don’t Call It Ikebana

One thing that has come to save all of us is this great urge to get back to nature. Whether your current conditions are open to dine out with your pod or stuck at home with hours of Clubhouse/ Tik Tok, this push and pull of our social habits has led to a surging culture around plants and vegetation aka a major plant selling boom. A desire and affinity for a sense of being grounded amidst the endless isolation has come with an added side effect of grounding people and understanding the might of greenery. Central to QooA’s philosophy of slowing down while still indulging, writer Janelle Zara found her path with her latest creative endeavor ZARA FLORA a project which fuses her lush floral devotions with that of her extensive art/architechtural background.

For Zara, an accomplished writer whose critiques of art, culture, and architecture can be seen in T, WSJ, and Architectural Digest, early quarantine strolls through Hollywood’s Beachwood Canyon and roadtrips with her boyfriend to Lake Arrowhead and Big Sur informed her needs to delve into nature. This biophilic desire coupled with her artistic and architectural background has well informed her design aesthetic. We got to discuss this floral venture as well as learned why you mustn’t call Zara’s gravity defying designs ikebana.

 

How did you get into floral arrangements, I feel like I’ve known you for ages and had no idea that you were so naturey.

Oh yes and road trips with my boyfriend, I look at trees and see how I could make them out of flowers. A friend of mine introduced me to this flower shop where you pick your own flowers. When he gave a bouquet to his friend I saw how his face lit up, It was full of so many unusual flowers. Doing this I realized we’re exposed to such a limited variety. The kinds of flowers you see in the grocery story isn’t even the half of it, I like working with the weird stuff. The really unusual creatures.

 

Would you consider this work consider this going in with the Ikebana trend that is so diffinitive right now? How did you learn to compose your arrangements?

It’s not ikebana. That’s a real art form with rules. I’m just putting flowers in a pot. I taught myself on instagram, really. Not by copying other people but studying their mechanics. It took me a while to understand the way that flowers work. You need to build up an arrangement with different depths and levels. Working in 3D is a lot different from looking at pictures.

I know you began this as a hobby but at what point did this become a business?

My friends were all really jazzed and supportive of what I was doing. They were the ones who convinced me to start an instagram, and then the interest started to grow from there. I was surprised that anyone would ever want to pay me for what I was doing for fun. It was a pandemic hobby!

 

Why do you think the art world has embraced you so much?

They’re my friends, a lot of them. In real life I’m an art critic/journalist. But also I’m really designing for certain graphic qualities—motion, contrast, etc… After I make an arrangement, I spend a lot of time trying to get a photo that captures that.

I love the full dimensionality of the arrangements, has your career in art and architecture inform some of your designs?

I think about it a lot like architecture; it’s about structure and problem solving

It used to take me days to figure out a floral arrangement. Lately I’ve gotten a lot faster, It still takes over an hour

 

What are some of your favorite flowers?

I like to mix high/low; really high end statement flowers with your grocery story basics. I have a secret spot where I get secondhand vases, and it’s a gold mine. They feel like the way we treat people; we treat the most delicate flowers like they’re the most precious But I live for a big fluffy bunch of carnations.

Do you Use a lot of flowers with fragrance?

I use a lot of allium, which literally smells like onion, I almost feel bad sending them to people, but they look so damn good. Otherwise not really. I don’t use a lot of “flower” flowers.

 

If you were to personify the plants and flowers you use who are they?

Flowers are challenging. They’re a lot harder than you’d think. They each kind of do their own thing in their own way, and the longer I do this, the better I get to know their individual temperaments.

Tulips: so underrated!

Anthurium: easy crowd pleaser!

Roses: just getting into them now. I thought they were really traditional but they can do a lot.

Bertie Body | Back To Bath Rituals

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Dine in Design : Spring 2021 Shopping Guide

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ZARA FLORA | Don’t Call It Ikebana

Get to know the journalist who took on a quarantine hobby and launched a successful side gig in floral arrangements informed by architecture, art, and getting back to nature

Murmurs | Valentine’s Day S

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Murmurs | Valentine’s Day S

Murmurs | Valentine’s Day S

Love is love is life, either way a desire for sweets and blooming florets is a must. LA multipurpose artspace/ café MurMurs has taken on the almighty task of infusing a delicate dose of wabi sabi indulgence via a pairing of QooA fave zehra zehra and the ikebana decor of Tomato Story. The zehra zehra bay leaf bunt olive oil and ricotta confection covered in mascarpone, is there anything possibly more sexual enticing than whipped mascarpone?

The Valentine’s day special pairing is available for PREORDER from the website as well as at the café and shop which is open for take-out and browsing. Coming in two sizes the florals are ever more expressive in their movements and poses offering an exquisite exploration into an asymetrical declaration of what life and love is.

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Dine in Design : Spring 2021 Shopping Guide

Restaurants are open for dining, spring time is in the air, there’s a cutie looking towards us, what shall we wear?

ZARA FLORA | Don’t Call It Ikebana

Get to know the journalist who took on a quarantine hobby and launched a successful side gig in floral arrangements informed by architecture, art, and getting back to nature

Murmurs | Valentine’s Day S

The beloved DTLA art space and cafe offers up a gift for all the senses this Valentine’s Day

Animal Crackers | Space Talk

From 60s Rudi Gernreich and Peggy Moffitt with their mod swagger to 80s era postmodernism and post punk well filtered through MTV, Hollywood has had a rich culture of bold design, color, and experimentation. This torch is carried on with the retro futurist work of LA...

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Spiritual Tools | In Times of Transformation

Spiritual Tools | In Times of Transformation

Spiritual Tools for Times of Transformation. 

A conversation with Astara founder, Crystal Healer & Herbalist Mariah K Lyons and Energetic Healer & Herbalist Julie Hovsepian

2020!?! Why is transformation so important at this time?

M – This has been a year of old systems and structures crumbling to be rebuilt and restructured in a new way. It’s been a root chakra year so on a very foundational level we are re-creating from the ground up (immune system!) and it’s been a massive year of systems in play and structures crumbling in order to rebuild a new.

J – I led a full moon event November 2019 and just saw this was the theme for that month that I had read somewhere “It’s a Moon to remind us of why we chose to incarnate at this tumultuous time and all the support available to us as we undertake huge transformation” and it’s incredible how timely that still feels for us today, and this conversation. To me, it’s so important for us to take this energy that’s building and essentially shouting at us with the turbulence of this past year and use it as opportunities for growth and expansion.  It’s so easy to resist change and stay numb to what’s happening around us, but we all have a fire within us that’s being lit right now to speak up, to change what’s not serving us individually, and to work together globally to help really shift us forward collectively.

What does transformation mean to you?

M: Changing form from one thing into another – energy is never destroyed it’s simply transmuted into something different – alchemically changes into something new. When we are transforming into new versions of ourselves there are certain ways of being that change over to create the new. Energy is shifted and alchemically changed to create something new. Nature teaches us about transformation – Winter transforming into Spring, leaves falling and becoming compost in the soil, and regenerating itself back up. We also learn it from the cycles of the moon, and transforming into different forms of ourselves as energetic beings.

J: Physical and energetic shedding of the old to step into an elevated space of being. It takes a lot of courage and trust to allow transformation to take place. It’s about letting go of the (un)comfortable state we are currently at by really leaning into that trust to leap into the unknown – because of that feeling deep inside of us that whatever is on the other side is soooo worth it.  For some it’s one small step in a unfamiliar direction that calls you – and then one day you look back and realize you are miles away from where you started and so much happier, and for others it’s a swift deep leap and taking the time you need to acclimate to your new grounds. The best part is there is no wrong way to do it, it’s always going to be in divine timing so it’s just about using your intuition and awareness that a change is needed and coming and having the courage to fly.

When you think of the word transformation – what’s the visual you get for yourself?

M: Butterfly – literally changes shape from caterpillar form to completely different version of itself and transforms into something new.

J: There is a visual that I got in one of my meditations of this other worldly version of me flying above – confident, at peace and assured – and it’s what I quickly connect to when I feel like I need to step into something that challenges and scares me.

What’s biggest fear for most people when it comes to transformation?

M: Safety – our brains understand certain ways of being and doing things and when we transform into something different some of the safety structures that we have created by habits, thought forms, ways of relating to other people and self – those change and can be scary and uncomfortable. By nature the reptilian brain wants to create safety and structure based on things it knows and is comfortable with which it then equates to survival – this part of our brain is not comfortable in the unknown or in a new form because it doesn’t have any previous information to base off of and “keep you safe.”

J: Control is another big one and if there is anything that 2020 has shown us over and over again is that we aren’t in control. As humans, we have a hard time feeling like we don’t have control of our present and our future. There’s a huge gift in the practice of being aware of who/what we are trying to control in our lives, and for what we think our future needs to look like and trusting that what’s coming our way is to help us transform, get stronger, and continue to align us on our path.

Moonstone

Best advice/support for people navigating transformation?

M: Finding a space of grounding and connecting with self and earth helps to remind oneself that they are always at home within their body regardless of what’s changing in their lives, relationships and the world. Always at home in their body and deep connection with the earth.

Working with minerals/crystals/herbs to ground the body but work on a subtler energetic system of helping to support stabilization and harmonization within one energetic field.

J: Meditation is one of the biggest practices that we all have access to, that’s free and the more we do it, the more we are able to create space to allow clarity to come through during times of so much uncertainty. As we commit to a daily practice (of even just 3 mins to start), our bodies begin to feel safe and grounded and our intuition/inner compass strengthens tremendously.  We also have incredible herbs, available globally, that are here to help us during times transformation.

Mariah’s Crystal Recommends for Times of Transformation

Malachite – This crystal helps transmute grief, sadness and past traumas held in the heart and helps create open space for the new

Moonstone – This is the stone of new beginnings and helps us attune to energies of the lunar cycle, our own cycles of life and moving through transition and transformation into the next cycle

Herkimer Diamond – A crown chakra stone – very high frequency that helps us imagine and re- envision/visualize our new way of being so we can create that in our physical reality

Smoky Quartz – helps to keep one grounded in times of change and helps transmute and transform dense energies thought forms and ways of being into new expressions of being.

Julie’s Herbal Recommends for Times of Transformation*

(among many other scientific and energetic qualities for each herb listed, here are some highlights specific to this topic):

Ginger – this is one we should all have easy access to in dried or raw form – it’s grounding but really opening, brings more chi/energy to the body, helps with emotional stagnation – really moves energy in the body, opens the breath and the heart (and is also incredible for immune support and migraines) – this herb is great support for the solar plexus

Shisandra – this super herb is made for times of transformation –  an energizing adaptogen (helps your body adapt to stress), great for motivation and helping positive change take place in your life, anti-depressant, playful energy that helps build chi in your body, cleansing, helps with clearer communication and creative expression, great for helping the visionary – this herb is great support for the sacral chakra

Rhodiola – this is a very bitter herb that’s very stimulating and uplifting, also great anti-depressant, it moves a lot of energy, great for mental clarity and focus, great for helping us get unstuck, great for resilience during transformation – this herb is great support for the root chakra

Blue Lotus – very sacred herb that’s a great spiritual ally for transformation and rebirth, very euphoric, crown and 3rd eye opener and also a great heart tonic – this herb is great support for the crown chakra

*Herbs: Ideal to infuse/decoct the tea leaves or roots for at least 20 mins before consuming.

All are available as organic tinctures as well.
You can click here to check out some of Julie’s custom tincture blends:

Please contact Julie if you have any specific questions about these herbs and their usage and would like further herbal support – julie@inagoldenstate.com

Top to bottom: Ginger, Shisandra, Rhodiola, Blue Lotus, Julie’s Herbal Tinctures

More on Mariah K Lyons:

www.astara.com

IG: https://www.instagram.com/mariahklyons/

MARIAH’S BOOK: CRYSTAL HEALING FOR WOMEN

More on Julie Hovsepian:

www.inagoldenstate.com

IG: https://www.instagram.com/juliehov/

+More meditations, including a 9 min guided and 30 min guided meditations: https://www.inagoldenstate.com/downloads

Bertie Body | Back To Bath Rituals

Get to know the Australian brand brings sexy bath, with soul, scent, and marine collagen.

Dine in Design : Spring 2021 Shopping Guide

Restaurants are open for dining, spring time is in the air, there’s a cutie looking towards us, what shall we wear?

ZARA FLORA | Don’t Call It Ikebana

Get to know the journalist who took on a quarantine hobby and launched a successful side gig in floral arrangements informed by architecture, art, and getting back to nature

Murmurs | Valentine’s Day S

The beloved DTLA art space and cafe offers up a gift for all the senses this Valentine’s Day

Animal Crackers | Space Talk

From 60s Rudi Gernreich and Peggy Moffitt with their mod swagger to 80s era postmodernism and post punk well filtered through MTV, Hollywood has had a rich culture of bold design, color, and experimentation. This torch is carried on with the retro futurist work of LA...

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bläanks | Urbanized Cottagecore

Get to know the LA based interior knit brand merging tradition, craft and modern living

Winter Wonders | Holiday Gift Guide

Winter Wonders | Holiday Gift Guide

What should you get for all the beloved but quirky, picky, fancy, practical or eccentric people in your life? The holidays are just around the corner and to make shopping a little easier we’ve assembled gifts for everyone on your list.    

1.Self-care/Wellness:  2020 is the year to invest in your self care and these gifts will help you relax and recharge.

Violet Grey Curated Kits
Curated kits for glow, clear skin, hair, and wellness. 

Violet Grey Curated Kits 

Dr. Barbara Sturm Glow Kit

The Glow Kit is powerful, but mini travel sized versions to achieve the ultimate glow.

Love Sweat Fitness Resistance Bands

With all the holiday sweets, make time to get your holiday sweat on. Give yourself the gift of a cute booty. 

Sakara Discovery Kit

 A discovery kit of Sakara’s bestsellers for optimal wellness and beauty. 

MUD/WTR

An alternative to coffee with superfood ingredients; Masala Chai, Cacao, Reishi, Chaga, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Turmeric, Sea Salt, Cinnamon.

Jade Roller & Gua Sha Set

Chic stocking stuffers in a variety of different gemstones for specific areas. Natural Rose quartz face massager, facial roller for face, neck and eye skin. Eliminates wrinkles and puffiness. 

Slip Silk Queen Pillowcase

Anti aging, anti sleep crease, anti bed head the highest grade (6A) long fiber mulberry silk commissioned by Bergdorf Goodman for the ultimate combination of shine, thickness, softness and durability. —  

Slip Silk Queen Pillowcase

2. Style: 

Classic staples to fulfill your friend’s and family’s holiday wishes.

Jennifer Meyer Necklace 18K Gold Mini Leaf Necklace

Simple, fashionable jewelry that you can layer with other charm necklaces. 

Jennifer Meyer Necklace 18K Gold Mini Leaf Necklace

Classic wardrobe staple for looking sexy by the fire while spending cozy evenings in doors. 

Milly Fion Cheetah Print Bias Skirt

This iconic skirt is ready for all the holiday glam.  

 

3. HOME & LIFESTYLE

Unique selections for the cook, host, and homebody in your life.

Le Labo Santal 33

Santal 33 never goes out of style and you can personalize the label. A perfume that would intoxicate a man as much as a woman. Cardamom, iris, violet, ambrox crackle in the formula and bring to this smoking wood alloy (Australian sandalwood, papyrus, cedarwood) some spicy, leathery, musky notes, and gives this perfume its unisex signature and addictive comfort. Santal 33 is an open fire, the soft drift of smoke, where sensuality rises after the light has gone.
 

Le Labo Santal 33

HUNU Collapsible Coffee Cup

Pocket sized coffee cup that you can stow anywhere and everywhere.

Lettuce Grow 24-Plant Farm Stand

Self watering and self fertilizing so everyone has the green thumb. 

ASSOULINE | Capri Dolce Vita

After all it is resort season right? Treat someone to a Capri getaway with this beautiful coffee table book. Capri boasts a rich Mediterranean spirit and style that encompasses a wealth of beauty, from gardens to villas to caves to the people walking in the lively Piazzetta, where cars are prohibited and the island’s playful attitude runs rampant. Capri Dolce Vita is a look at this fabled corner of the world through the ages and a celebration of paradise on earth.

D I V I N E Amethyst Crystal Water Bottle for Healing and Wellness

An elegant way to create crystal elixirs from your own home. Beautiful quality Glass Bottle, Gold engraving: GRATITUDE. Portable use, Large Crystals. Gift Ready.

Rivsalt Himalayan Rock Salt Grater

Bring new flavours to your signature dishes with this Original Himalaya and salt grater from Rivsalt.

Truffin Truffle Ranch Dressing and Sriracha

Fancy dressing for your holiday dishes.

Hermes 100mg Skateboard

For the person who has everything and has a bit of a wild side.

Edie Parker Ouija Board

Edie Parker transforms the classic Ouija Board with a hand-poured acrylic board and planchette with a galaxy design. Use yours to add some fun to after-dinner drinks with friends.

Bertie Body | Back To Bath Rituals

Get to know the Australian brand brings sexy bath, with soul, scent, and marine collagen.

Dine in Design : Spring 2021 Shopping Guide

Restaurants are open for dining, spring time is in the air, there’s a cutie looking towards us, what shall we wear?

ZARA FLORA | Don’t Call It Ikebana

Get to know the journalist who took on a quarantine hobby and launched a successful side gig in floral arrangements informed by architecture, art, and getting back to nature

Murmurs | Valentine’s Day S

The beloved DTLA art space and cafe offers up a gift for all the senses this Valentine’s Day

Animal Crackers | Space Talk

From 60s Rudi Gernreich and Peggy Moffitt with their mod swagger to 80s era postmodernism and post punk well filtered through MTV, Hollywood has had a rich culture of bold design, color, and experimentation. This torch is carried on with the retro futurist work of LA...

Old School Wednesday: Ice Cube – It Was a Good Day

Ice Cube ~ "It Was a Good Day" (L)Today's mood, courtesy of Ice Cube back in 1992.  Samples: The Isley Brothers ~ "Footsteps in the Dark" Such a great slow jam from the same guys that made "Shout" and other hits like "Twist and Shout" during their 7 decade...

Kid Hastings | Movement and Selfcare

On the release of Kid Hastings AKA Jake McEvoy’s latest video for “Call Me Up”, The singer songwriter tells us about movement as self care

Chess, Mon Amor | Amor Services

The LA Based Amor Studio curates a gallery show on a Chess Board with Chess, Mon Amor, featuring Alake Shilling, Tremaine Emory, Bernhard Willhelm, Yves Tumor, Gaetano Pesce, Ser Serpas, and Mandy Harris Williams

Old School Wednesday: Dr Dre – Let Me Ride

Dr. Dre ~ "Let Me Ride" (L) So on and so on, why don't you let me roll on?I remember back in the days when I used to have to get my stroll onDidn't nobody wanna speakNow everybody peepin' out they window when they hear me beatin' up the streetIs it Dre? Is it...

bläanks | Urbanized Cottagecore

Get to know the LA based interior knit brand merging tradition, craft and modern living

Studio Constance | The Circle of Sustainability

Studio Constance | The Circle of Sustainability

The concept of sustainability might be au current, but to think about what if the fabrications recycled have a chance to live in its own ecosystem, as if a terrarium for fashion. It’s a fascinating concept which has been applied to Rebecca Dovenryd Almberg clothing brand, Constance Studio. Named after the designer’s grandmother, the previous knitwear maestro behind Proenza Schouler and Jonathan Simkhai’s knits, launched the line in 2020 amidst the pandemic and social revolution. Though one would think that it would hinder the development of a new brand, these circumstances have been met with a great value in interpreting the way which the brands concept has been cultivated. From the touch of her fabrics, to the faint colors of faint lushness we got to know the Scandinavian designer who took on the spirit of Tinsel towns literary cool girl sister.  

You mentioned that the t shirts are silk and cashmere?

Yes, all of the pieces are cashmere and silk made in Italy the chunkier pieces are 100% lambswool also made in Italy, and are you familiar with the Constance Circle?

I looked it up briefly can you explain more, it’s a buyback program, right?

We are designing we are conscious of their materials the styles and how if we get it returned how can we recycle it. If you buy a piece, we allow you to return it in any condition and at any time in 10 years we will either put it in our Constance Circle collection, or we will recycle it. So the idea’s long-term goal is to be fully sustainable. Hopefully one day we can use all of our own recycled yarn. It will be years from now because right now we have to sell and then buy back. That is the idea and mission for the brand. There is just so much waste, because of the process. The system is just set up that way and it is hard to change the way you are already working. Now as a new brand you have the opportunity to just start.

Do you feel that fits in with this whole cottage core home I’m for lunch where concept as well, everything looks so comfortable?

It is one thing that I am trying to keep in mind during designing. You can wear it more casually or more dressed up and you can layer everything. The material is very nice to the skin. Everything can just be layered together.

Did you come up with these color combinations, it is very now. The turmeric orange, the taupe feeling, I feel like it is a very all across the board thing.

Thank you, I don’t even remember what the first inspiration was. I started to think about this a while back I was collaborating with this pastry chef who makes dessert installations. Her name is Amy Yip, her company is Yip Studios. She makes beautiful things. I picked the colors it went with both of our concepts. We had the inspiration of dried grapefruits and stones, more earthy tones. Another part of sustainability is some of the colors we did not have full control over because we were using limited run fabrics and worked with what we had. Which I kind of like working like that because you cannot plan everything do you have limitations. It’s another part of knitwear, you can’t do anything. With cut and sew you can just construct it however you want. Knitwear you need to calculate, “is it possible to achieve this shape?” It’s a challenge I really like.

The colors of great it’s like a neutral deliciousness, milk latte, grapefruit, cookie.

It’s been a journey. Another thing I wanted to mention is that this is our starting collection and moving forward we also like to keep in mind that its not seasonal. So this collection will be the one that will run over time. We will design into this collection and then we will restyle the pieces with a campaign shoot to give it new life, but try not to ever let the pieces go to sale or be put into a storage, because “Now it is out of season.” Hopefully we can make an organic transformation.

I think a lot of it has to do with reeducating the consumer. I’m a total fashion victim, but my wardrobe is split up between things that are quite extreme with other pieces I’ve had for over a decade. It’s training clients to realize that these are products that will last forever. Though that terminology tends to get so cliché. Like this is a perfect knitted tank to be worn at any age and forever.

Yes and I think, that we can buy so much, because of fast fashion, mass production, and all of that. It’s so available and we like having new things. Not needing those adds to the huge waste and environmental damage is done. It is the responsibility of the companies to educate or offer a change to the customer. It’s a lot to ask for the general public to just change their behavior and start spending more money.

The colors of great it’s like a neutral deliciousness, milk latte, grapefruit, cookie.

It’s been a journey. Another thing I wanted to mention is that this is our starting collection and moving forward we also like to keep in mind that its not seasonal. So this collection will be the one that will run over time. We will design into this collection and then we will restyle the pieces with a campaign shoot to give it new life, but try not to ever let the pieces go to sale or be put into a storage, because “Now it is out of season.” Hopefully we can make an organic transformation.

I think a lot of it has to do with reeducating the consumer. I’m a total fashion victim, but my wardrobe is split up between things that are quite extreme with other pieces I’ve had for over a decade. It’s training clients to realize that these are products that will last forever. Though that terminology tends to get so cliché. Like this is a perfect knitted tank to be worn at any age and forever.

Yes and I think, that we can buy so much, because of fast fashion, mass production, and all of that. It’s so available and we like having new things. Not needing those adds to the huge waste and environmental damage is done. It is the responsibility of the companies to educate or offer a change to the customer. It’s a lot to ask for the general public to just change their behavior and start spending more money.

You started the line in the midst of the quarantine and protest how to do you see the company aligning with that.

We were actually supposed to start and launch our company in March when the first lockdown happened and we had to cancel everything. I almost gave up I was so tired. We ended up launching May 29, the day before the protest fully broke out here in LA. It was really tough, everything went really silent, which is great no one at our launch posted anything we didn’t post anything.

It was a moment of solidarity for everyone. It’s almost like your work has shown its concept through this time.

Going forward it is part of our history especially with Covid, being a slow fashion brand has been a good thing for Constance. For us especially with the protest I felt like if I could build my community, I have the opportunity to speak through that. It was an eye-opener for a lot of people. For sure it is shaping everything.  

Why did you decide to settle in LA?

I moved to San Francisco from Sweden. I studied there and graduated from fashion school and then I moved to New York for work. Then when I started working with Jonathan Simkhai they moved their entire company out to LA. Coming  back here to California, I just love it here! I feel like there are so many opportunities here and the interest fashion. And it’s still an emerging market.

It’s not a secret but there is a specific girl who lives in LA and appreciates and understands this, a very genuine appreciation for quality and perfected wardrobe. It’s very much in the spirit of a very literary tradition.  

Yes, for sure! I love New York, it would be amazing to be there and launch a brand but it’s oversaturated and you would kind of blend in. I think being in LA is helpful for the brand, and I just want to be here, so it’s better to just set the foundation here!

Which is your neighborhood?

Silverlake!  

Click here for more information and to shop Studio Constance

Photography — David William Baum

Model — Brooke Makenzi

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Aliona Kononova | Masked in Fort Ross

Aliona Kononova | Masked in Fort Ross

Aliona Kononova has been a well cemented part of Los Angeles’ art and fashion scene. Frequently adorning the most avant garde of dressers around the various art openings and social happenings, is there anything more inspiring than to see Valerie Von Sobel in one of Kononova’s confections. When the pandemic hit, Kononova like the rest of the world slowed down. Focusing on fully envisioned one offs, pushing an endearing sense of more architectural engineered garments craft it out of the most rigid fabrics. It is with this strong and dynamic use of craftsmanship which she has applied into the process of her mask making. Having been anointed “Millinery‘s New Star” with the blessing of Stephen Jones, it is no wonder that her expertly crafted masks take on a whole life of their own.

A gorgeous and luxuriant product that transfers wearers to a place which almost makes one forget that it is a product of function, but rather a storied vision of art. In the time of quarantine and isolation the designer has also explored her adopted home of California. Producing shoots which showcase her designs against the alien backdrop of the many coastal towns along 655.8 miles of Cali coastline.

The pacing couldn’t have been better as she also highlighted the little known Russian homestead, Fort Ross. We got to chatting with Kononova about this project which ultimately matches her Californian dream and Slavic roots. she also provided a delectably addictive recipe for Syrniki, a cottage cheese based pancake which is dosed with just the right amount of sugar to be a tea time treat, snack or dessert.

Photo Courtesy Aliona Kononova. Model: Yulia Kirillova.

BJ Panda Bear: Where did you shoot these images they are completely astonishing and alien, you mentioned they were near San Francisco.

Aliona Kononova: The first part was in Sedona and around that area as well as around Vazquez Rocks. Second part was around San Francisco and Fort Ross. It was collaboration between me and my friend Yulia Kirillova who also modeled in the images.

BJPB: Yes and you mentioned there were parts that were Russian, was there a town there? I know Solvang is the one that’s all Danish.

AK: It’s really special so Fort Ross is a former Russian outpost in Sonoma county where 19th century Russians settled on the native Kashia Pomo territory. It’s not big but it’s such a nice place next to the ocean.

BJPB: How did you find out about it, I have hadn’t heard of it being from California.

AK: It was in the books In Russia we have always been curious to go and there was never an occasion. So when everything was locked down I think I saw more things than I saw in the seven years I’ve lived here. We just went to San Francisco then to Yosemite, June lake, and exploring all the things around. 30 hours of driving, but good.

Photo Courtesy Aliona Kononova. Model: Yulia Kirillova.

Photo Courtesy Aliona Kononova. Model: Yulia Kirillova.

BJPB: How far was it all from each other?

AK: 2 hours from San Francisco. it was a very cool experience and it was crazy because in San Francisco in the mornings it is really cold and when we went to Fort Ross and it was crazy hot and we were trying to capture the pictures with no harsh sun which was pretty impossible. At some point you hear this church bell and I felt like I was fainting because it was too hot. There was not even one shadow it was all open so there was no shade while you’re shooting for three hours. You really get that heat I was trying to hide in the church but it was closed. We were looking for any shade with the bells it was a surreal experience.

BJPB: With the masks you have recently released they are really gorgeous what was the construction on these?

AK: I wanted something to cover your face but repeating the shape of the face that it would not squeeze your mouth as it is already so uncomfortable to wear these in general. I wanted them to be as comfortable as possible. The lining is so soft and you can adjust the ears. The whole thing can be adjusted to your face, the veil is detachable the little bird is detachable. It has three main inspired creatures: a bird a dragonfly and a butterfly.

Photo Courtesy Aliona Kononova. Model: Yulia Kirillova.

Photo Courtesy Aliona Kononova. Model: Yulia Kirillova.

What is the significance of those animals to you and how they relate to the masks?

It all started with the bird, a bird can rise above the clouds and see what is going on in the bigger picture and get over it quicker in that sense. The dragonfly has this unique flight pattern which they adjust in certain situations and that’s kind of what was their inspiration. Of course the butterfly has its metamorphosis, so the idea of the transformation and to take all that moment as a personal growth, to take it towards a positive note I wanted to have these creatures on every mask.

They are so welcome crafted are they both feathers and millinery fabrics?

Depends the bird one is made of feathers, And the dragonfly is made of silk they are like little jewels.

Photo Courtesy Aliona Kononova. Model: Yulia Kirillova.

Photo Courtesy Aliona Kononova. Model: Yulia Kirillova.

A little happiness for breakfast to start your day in the right direction, Aliona Kononova’s recipe for Syrniki

Ingredients:

1 egg

1 cup of farmers cheese or ricotta

3 tablespoons of sugar

1/4 cup of flour (or almond flower for Keto)

a generous pour of vanilla extract

pinch of salt

coconut oil

1/2 a cup of blueberries (optional)

Your favorite maple syrup (optional)

Combine ingredients and portion into 5 or 6 servings, pan fry with the coconut oil and serve with a drizzle of maple syrup.

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