My name is Dina Malkova, I’m a designer, maker, writer-beginner, businesswoman and wife. I’m a huge fan of fashion, colours, markets, embroidery, green tea with lemon, eclectic styles and folk singing.
Some of my earliest memories involve discovering and creating. I have really vivid recollections of how incredible it was to wear a hand-made dress or make my own sandals and have people asking where I got them. Another favourite memory is when as children my friend and I put on shows, making costumes and selling handmade tickets door to door around our neighbourhood for our choreographed backyard dances and cover versions of pop music.
The winding path that led me throughout my life involves running a big hotel in Tashkent, setting and running a fashion design business; Human Wear and studying enterprise management for the creative arts at the University of Arts in London. In a combination of timing, hard work and a dash of luck, I found myself striking out to create my own art as a career.
Inspiration is everywhere for me. It’s in the air, sunlight, my brother’s paintings, folk songs, a little girl walking down the street in pink Wellingtons, colour of a freshly caught fish scales, in witty and funny conversations with my mum, window shopping with Madi, my friend. As long as I stay open, it’s there waiting for me. There are so many people who have influenced me in thousands ways, both large and small. The most important has come from my amazing customers and friends, who have really kept me going with their generous friendship, encouragement and support.
I spend a lot of time gathering and soaking up inspiration and then suddenly, explosions of ideas go off one after
another. Sometimes the inspiration strikes so quickly that I’m scrambling for a scrap of paper to sketch or scribble. I love collecting old hand-made vintage fabrics and then use them in my designs. For me, working with vintage textiles is about seeing and feeling the texture and history of the place they come from. I like the fact that the old fabrics or materials can be re-cycled and re-used again and again.
I am designing and making clothes that take into account the environment, the health of consumers and the working conditions of people who make them for me. I try to use as much organic raw materials as possible, such as silk made by worms fed on mulberry tree, or cotton which grown without pesticides and not been harvested by children. My items don’t involve the use of harmful chemicals and are often made from recycled and reused textiles.
Some of my items I make myself, some I commission to artisans in Sussex and Central Asia.
Photographer Andy Paul, Catherine Gilo
By Nelly Ajvasi