Natasha Zinko’s Victorian Aesthetic

Stephanie Smith

London-based Natasha Zinko’s handcrafted jewelry has the kind of personal flair that is transformative. The Central Saint Martins graduates creations are informed by her uncanny ability to turn clichéd motifs into ironically re-imagined pieces full of intricate detail, and of course a signature touch of whimsy. Her aptly named “Amour” collection features yellow gold, white gold and pink gold heart shapes set with stunning diamonds. Pearl accents and the reoccurrence of a filigree-like motif give Zinko’s contemporary collection a bit of vintage charm, yet her painstaking attention to detail provides a new vision of the much recycled heart theme. Similarly, her “Armor” collection reimagines the hallmarks of war—muskets, shields etc.—creating a wry, lighthearted vision of objects that often represent violence and fear.

Unsurprisingly, Zinko’s ready to wear collections follow in the same vein as her jewelry. Her obsessive attention to detail and unfaltering ability to refresh old concepts is as inherent in the Summer 2014 collection as it is in her accessories. Inspired by the campanula flower (bellflower), the feminine silhouettes and voluminous skirts in this summers ready to wear pieces are one part old-world elegance and one part svelte film noir heroine. The bustle-like quality of these skirts is not only reflective of the shape of a bellflower, but also brings to mind the overtly feminine fashions of the Victorian era. The nipped in waists and accentuated backside and bosoms— complete with plunging, lace overlaid embellished necklines—create the same awareness of the female form as the corsets and binders found in Victorian dresses. The charm of the collection lies in its balance. The shapes and cuts of the clothes give an observer the ultimate awareness of the voloputuousness of the wearer. These dresses sensuously outline the most obviously female parts of the figure, but details like high, lace embellished necklines and long delicate strands of pearly buttons translate as simultaneously innocent and coquettish.

Zinko’s collection explores a bygone trend that came to represent an idealized version of female sexuality in an era we remember most immediately for its sexual repression–especially in matters involving female sexuality. Yet even as she explores these trends Zinko adds her own modern touches to create a new feminine ideal which seamlessly blends the past and present. Though the voluminous mutton sleeves and dramatically exaggerated proportions in the collection sometimes teeter on the edge of costume, she tempers this with gently flaring retro-flavored skirts and figure contoured dresses with a more modern hourglass silhouette. A profusion of lace, flounced hems and pearly buttons–which accompanied many of the previously aforementioned high neck styles—cement the feminine feel of the collection.

Given the recent interest in Russian talent and the increasing recognition of the Russian market in fashion, Zinko’s opulent ready to wear collections–which have been featured in Vogue Italia, Grazia UK, InStyle UK, Glamour, Pomp Magazine and Vogue UK to name a few–are poised to go places. The rising star already counts celebs like Vanessa Williams, Miroslava Duma and Vogue Russia fashion editor, Ekaterina Mukhina as admirers.


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