Lina Dembikova is one of the most recognizable Russian stylists. And the matter is not only in her works – not every star can boast in such a vivid and memorable way. To stay in the shadow of backstage is clearly not part of Lina’s plans: she not only collaborates with domestic celebrities, but also actively promotes her own projects.
Lina has a dress rental service Dress Up Bar, her own school of stylists and a beauty salon Call Me, Baby !. Yes, and on the TV screen, Lina appears no less than her wards, – Dembikova broadcasts "Restart" on the TNT channel. We asked Lina about the difficulties of her work, the vagaries of the stars, studying abroad, the trends of the season and much more.
Which Russian and foreign stars would you change clothes?
Probably would have changed many. But here to start dressing – nobody. We in Russia do not have a system for fully developing the image of artists, as, for example, in America. There, the whole team is involved in creating the image of the artist and the stylist there is a full-fledged part of this team. There, stylists have been working with artists for years, and with the help of outfits, they largely influence the success of the entire artist’s project. We have the role of a stylist – rather bring-give-bring that dress over.
I was always lucky with the artists – for the most part I myself chose them – who listened to me in everything and trusted me very much. Now I have no image and financial need to work with artists. I only cooperate with those with whom I am friends, and we understand each other well. It is rather a hobby, a pleasure to practice. If I took the artist now to a full-fledged job, I would like someone as large-scale in costumes as Beyonce or Lady Gaga.
Lina Dembikova with Laysan Utyasheva and Kristina Asmus
Can you recall some force majeure that happened in working with a star?
Oh, there were a lot of such cases. One is funnier than the other. But, I remember, there was one especially offensive. My artist at that time was deeply pregnant, and I needed to hide this fact with the help of outfits. At that moment we were in the process of filming a television show and reporting concerts we had every week. And since I learned about the fact of pregnancy already during the project, no one had prepared in advance for such a surprise.
The outfits had to be sewn to order. Finding a finished dress for such sizes was already impossible. Dresses were sewn all week and had time to close. And so we put on a dress on the artist, and I feel that from the previous day she took a lot of water and simply does not enter the dress. With effort we put a dress on her, crossed ourselves, and she stepped forward. And then the lightning bursts in the center, and it just turns out to be locked in this dress.
Live after 10 minutes, and the artist was stuck in a dress. Sewing it on her is simply unrealistic. In general, it took me a minute to overcome the internal shock, a minute to release the artist. Another minute to remember that instead of a spare tire, I had a spare dress in the trunk, three more to get to the car and return, and three to change it. As a result, we managed. But that stress and a stuck pregnant actress in a dress I will never forget!
Dealing with force majeure is a necessary skill in your profession, but still no one is safe from mistakes. Can you recall some fashionable failure or curiosity when choosing a dress for a star?
All with the same pregnant actress, I had a case that is most certain to be called "expectation / reality." As I said, dresses had to be ordered for tailoring. One of the weeks I found a very beautiful reference – a very beautiful and unusual dress – and asked the tailors to make one to one. We did not have time to order this, it was just necessary to repeat. I rush the tailors, they convince me that the dress is about to arrive, it turns out to be perfect and there is nothing to worry about.
I don’t remember why I still didn’t get to try it on myself and couldn’t see it. Most likely, we were not in Russia with tours. In general, the dress comes to the site, and I just swallow the tongue. It was not a dress, but a curtain … In general, it was my worst work as a stylist. I still remember with a trembling heart.
And who was the first star customer, how did it go?
My first star client was Mitya Fomin. It was he who somehow very sincerely believed in me. He helped me begin to popularize the term celebrity stylist: he invited me to all events, took me to the red carpet and positioned himself as a star stylist. When Mitin’s colleagues and glossy magazines began to notice his transformation, other artists began to turn to me, and so step by step more than 30 artists appeared on my track record.
You have already gained impressive experience. What vagaries of stars had to face during this time?
There were strange wishes. But I won’t say that there were some vagaries. I don’t particularly understand such stupid tricks, and my artists didn’t betray this with me. It used to be that they would ask for juice from red apples at the venues, it was obligatory only from red apples, it happened that they used to eat cranberries in sugar for a month on all shootings.
Although I remember that one artist refused to even measure outfits – they say, try on yourself. And we are different in build and it’s impossible to sew costumes like that. I then said in a harsh manner that outfits are also part of her work, and each of us must do our own thing. I pick – she tries on. Sometimes I had to put an ultimatum.
The new season is coming. What must be added to the wardrobe in order to be in trend?
This season will be relevant combination of wide jeans and light blouses with puff sleeves. Tall boots returned to fashion, only now they are tucked into wide trousers. Large and medium bags this season will be worn not on the shoulder, but in the hand. Instead of one belt, there are several at once, and the same mini-bags at once in several pieces: cross-body or on the waist.
And if there is not enough money, but you want to be stylish, what should you spend on in the first place?
Definitely a good quality base. Trends quickly leave, but high-quality basic things form the basis of our wardrobe. It is worth investing in. These include jeans, t-shirts, cardigans, sweaters, shirts and hoodies.
Fashionable things need to be bought only when in general the clothes work like a capsule, and fashionable things just add something fresh in every season.
Representatives of the British royal family today are constant heroines on the pages of gloss. Whose style do you like more: Kate Middleton or Meghan Markle? In general, is it boring to dress in the British royal family? It seems that only the queen can afford bright outfits there.
In terms of style Megan, of course, is more interesting. She has a more modern vision. But as a character I am more impressed with Kate Middleton. It seems to me that she feels much more harmonious in the royal dress code. As for the bright outfits, it seems to me that everything is quite natural. Young women still have beauty and freshness, and the queen got a variety in colors.
By the way, you studied in London. What would you call the most important experience gained there? And what are the differences in the approach between the work of a stylist in the West and in Russia? Have you adopted something and tried to introduce it here?
In Britain, fashion is an industry. There is a completely different approach. There is a serious competitive environment and in it everyone is fighting for a place in the sun. This forms one's own desire to strive and do more than others. There you do not expect clear instructions and handouts from the teacher.
There is a base, and you are fighting for the opportunity to learn and do more than the rest. At us, everyone is waiting for them to be given instructions and shown what will be the criterion of success or offset. This forms a very inert state of the industry. There the stylist is a man-motor, a man-sponge. This is the one who feels, reads and shapes trends. And with us, a stylist is basically still such an assistant: drive behind a dress, buy things and so on.
Laysan Utyasheva and Lina Dembikova
You have a dress rental service. What unique outfits are in the Dress Up Bar? Which are most popular?
We specialize in stylish and bold dresses. We do not have many dresses with rhinestones or magnificent styles, like princesses. We mainly prefer brands such as Self-Portrait, Badgley Mischka or non-trivial Russian brands. We try to choose dresses that have some zest, uniqueness.
And how do you feel about "naked" dresses that do not go out of fashion on the red carpet for already a year?
I myself can’t afford them, probably, if I could, I would even go out of trend to show a super-slim body, but I still have to work and work. But I wore a couple of my ideally thin artists in them, however, a couple of years ago. Now the trend is still for bright mini with puff sleeves. And I would recommend choosing interesting catchy models or unshakable classics, but not bare dresses.
You used to be engaged in synchronized swimming and told that it was with the design of an unusual swimsuit for yourself that your passion for fashion began. And today I would not want to work on the creation of such costumes and dress some athletes?
Yes that's right. I was then about 11 years old. I already did a lot of sports and I wanted a swimsuit different from my solo program. The design itself came up with and sewed a long-sleeved swimsuit that was not yet accepted in synchronized swimming. Then it became obvious that I really like to bother with clothes.
I still like everything related to sportswear, because it can be very beautiful. I am delighted with what Stella McCartney does. I would probably dream of doing something like this, but so far in Russia there are no such resources. True, the athletes themselves do not dress very stylishly. Rather, trendsetters are healthy lifestyle bloggers and fitness bloggers.
Now I launched something between a city and a sports brand – the New Normal brand. While we focus on bicycles, but who knows what it will result in.
You also have your own School of ImageHelology StyleHunter. Can anyone be taught to be a stylist at all? Or is not everyone given the taste and ability to dress?
Of course, there are people with a more developed sense of taste. Usually this is a consequence of active creative development in childhood. But this does not mean that in adulthood a sense of taste cannot be developed. Precisely possible. Another question is that the older the person, the more difficult it is to do it and the more efforts must be made. Therefore, I always tell my students very honestly that if at the age of 30 you decided to change your field of activity and start a career in the fashion industry, be prepared to work hard. And the teacher’s task is to help find the shortest path to the result.
So with systematic work, a steady desire to develop familiarity and proper training, any person can become a good specialist.
Sometimes, looking at, say, red carpets, you see some outfits that raise only one question: “Why are you wearing this?” When it is obvious that the dress does not fit, spoils the proportions or becomes an object for memes. You, as a stylist, say: why do the stars put this on?
There are many factors. Sometimes artists, like creative people, have their jumps. She wants to put a palm on her head and that’s it! It is the presence of a sensible team that can convince and argue why the palm tree is not the best solution now, can protect the artist from such fashionable failures. Each of us does not have an adequate view of ourselves from the outside. That is, we can see and evaluate others adequately, but ourselves – very biased. It’s difficult to develop this honest vision of oneself; it comes with experience, and then not all media people. Even I, having been engaged in image for a very long time, for a long time learned to look sensibly at myself on the screen and in the socialite.
Well, one should not forget about the second option – this is an image for the sake of hype. This also happens. But such a PR strategy is not close to me and does not seem to work in the long run.