Star Lights From Tatyana Peter
A reporter of “Uyzhny Region”in the USA, Mariet Fosnes, talks to famous fashion designer Tatyana Peter. Many Hollywood stars who walk on red carpets for golden statuettes and “Palm-tree branches” wear dresses created by Tatyana Peter. She is frequently consulted by people whose names are known all over the world. Tatyana designs the gowns of Princesses and First Ladies. She is applauded in Los Angeles, New York, Rome, Paris, and capitals throughout the world.
Her works are an inseparable part of the image of popular actors and showmen, whose beauty we so admire as we are often unaware of the efforts that stand behind those impressive images.Tatyana kindly agreed to share her insights and experiences with our magazine.
- Tatyana, please share about your childhood. What influenced your decision to become a fashion designer?
- I was born in Planovskoe, a Kabardian village, where my father was a professional artist. My grandfather, Pshikan Shekihachev, was a gifted theatrical figure. He was the founder of the Kabardian dramaturgy and a member of a writer’s guild, Alliance of the writers. My aunt, Lyolya Shekihacheva, was a singer. So, I grew up in an artistic family where I developed an early interest in art. I started to draw when I was five years old. My father had a studio and a lot of books and magazines on art. I remember how I learned to read. I took a big book from dad’s bookshelf, climbed under the blanket, and read by syllables: “Rem-bran-dt”. As you know, country life in the Caucasus is far from Bohemia. Girls are trained to work hard in early childhood. When I shirked from doing daily house chores, my sister was indignant stating,”I wonder who is going to marry this ‘good for nothing’ girl?” No matter how much she tried to convince me, I have not become a model housekeeper.
- Does this mean that the Russian saying “A true woman should know how to knead clay and how to wear silk” is not about you?
- Certainly this is not my way. I have always believed, from my childhood to the present, that a true man will not allow his woman “to knead clay”. I always dreamed of being creative. I was attracted to beauty, and I wanted to be beautiful. My parents were wonderful people. I owe my success to my mother’s wisdom and encouragement. She kept saying, ”My girl, follow your dream. I believe in you. You will succeed.” I think I was in the eigth grade when I felt a special interest in fashion. My mother bought a good sewing machine, and I spent much time sewing my early ideas into clothes. I liked to look stylish. This was not the best choice, as you know, for a village girl at that time. Neighbor women knew that I sewed all my own clothes and they were curious. They stopped to see what I was wearing to school each day as they were driving cattle out of the yards in the morning. My professional orientation seems to have emerged at that time. Years later, I presented my first collection for a beauty contest in Nalchik. All of my works sold the first day. It was a tremendous success and, of course, big money.
- What does one feel when one suddenly wakes up wealthy in the morning?
- In my case it was not a morning, but a late evening that was far from simple. A large banquet was held in my honor in Nalchik. The affair was organized by senior officials of the Republic who invited many foreign guests. At the banquet, I was applauded for being beautiful, talented, rich. When I returned home, I was confronted with loneliness. I sat in my empty room and burst into tears. I so needed a reliable strong shoulder of a special man who would be close to me in joy and grief. I realized that I had no one with whom I could share my success. Following this night, everything changed. Can you imagine, after three days, I met the man I needed so much! After three more days, we got married.
- After three days? I think,it is very Adyg! And who is that lucky man?
- Art Thomson is my husband and colleague, who is always near to me. I devote most of my time to work and because of this I am probably not a very good wife and mother, but I deeply value my family and consider my marriage to be happy. We married in Nalchik and lived there almost four years. It was a difficult time and we had to leave for America, my husband’s native country. That is how I came to this country. In November, we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.
- What traits should a beginning fashion designer possess in order to become an artist of haute couture?
- First, as well as any person in a creative profession, you should believe in yourself. Second, it is necessary to have your own ideas and the courage to express and assert your creations. In my opinion, there is no need to say that success is not simply good luck; success is the result of endless work and patience. You must have a goal. I do not divide artists into small and great. I respect the work of any artist who honestly strives for their goal. The goal should certainly be clear. To confirm this statement, I am sharing from my own experience. I did not think that one day I would work on such a high level, but I was always certain in my desire to create and make people beautiful. A valuable trait for a fashion designer is the ability to see a person’s character as well as their appearance. When we work on an order to create an image, we make more than a costume. We create the whole image of the person. Without intuition or without feeling the psychology of the person, whose image we are going to complement, success in our work is likely impossible.
- As the works of Ives Saint Lauren or Coco Chanel are described as contributing to emancipation, your models are symbols of femininity. Do you believe that modern women will refuse the practical sport style in favor of beauty and elegancy?
- I do not know if preferences should be influenced or whether women will refuse the sport style, but I see that my clients choose models that emphasize their feminine nature. Yes, the rhythm of the modern life and its demands has changed women’s clothes into more masculine styles. The sporty and manly styles give women a sense of power and defense. But the feminine nature has remained in the character of women: we use every opportunity to wear a dress, not jeans. The majority of us need a strong man’s support, and one should be a woman for that. Why, then, should there be a challenge to our original calling? I am for femininity.
- Which country would you call the leader in the world of fashion?
- Long ago, French fashion proved its soundness to the world. Today, French couture does not yield to fashion compromises, so many fashion designers aspire to France. My opinion may be subjective. I think, presently, primacy belongs to the United States because everything produced in Paris ultimately comes to Hollywood. Moreover, I see greater creativity among American designers.
- Whom do you consider your mentor?
- I like Dior, Chanel and, of course, Balenciaga, but I cannot say that I followed another designer. Actually, I believe that my creations should be the product of my own efforts and abilities.
-You are for femininity. What do you personally wear? What style do you prefer?
- I like flowers and floral images on fabrics. Nevertheless, this is not my style. I wear elegant, yet feminine jackets of solid fabrics. The main requirement to the clothes, in which I will feel comfortable and confident, is exclusiveness and uniqueness from other designs.
- Art needs inspiration. What inspires you?
- I can be inspired by anything and anyone, but I notice that nature affects me more often. When I feel sad, I go to the ocean. I like to look at the water in any of its states. It not only calms me, the ocean gives impulse to my creative ideas. Music is also a great stimulation. I am empowered by many different kinds of musical styles. In order to work, I need to hear it every day. And of course, to be inspired, I need my family’s encouragement. I want to thank my family for their constant inspiration in my life.
- Do you have a favorite collection?
- I like all my collections, but I think the best one is still to come!
- Are you presently attracted to any other art besides clothing design?
- Yes, I prepare my own TV show “International Broadcasting”. It will be an entertainment program with participation of very interesting people. But whatever I do, every day I must make a new dress. I just cannot help it.
-You say that in order to emphasize the individuality of a customer, it is good to know the peculiarities of his/her character. How is it possible if you are hardly acquainted to the person?
- As for me, I see these peculiarities like x-ray. Clients often come with some ideas of their own, but those ideas do not always deserve to be a reality, because people can’t see themselves from outside. To help a customer choose the right costume is the master’s task. I have not had a case when a customer was unhappy with my advice.
- Fashion can influence society, and even introduce certain behavior that becomes a part of life. For example, a woman in a corsette with a veil over her eyes will hardly afford to be rude. Or a man in a tailcoat will not leave a beer can on a public bench. What do you expect the style of the next decade to present to society?
- I agree with the opinion that any progress only makes sense if people become more humane and better, and fashion is not an exception. You are right. The way we are dressed obligates us to certain behavior, as well as our style reflects our inner state and culture. I think we are not ready for corsettes and tailcoats, yet I do believe that fashion will be more refined in the next decade. We will face less rudeness and there will be fewer beer cans discarded near park benches. In my experience, I see the manners of people, for whom I create clothes, become more exquisite in their best attire.
- What will you say about works of Russian fashion designers?
- In Russia, there are many talented fashion designers who are distinct and unique from other artists around the world. They should demonstrate themselves more confidently. Recently, a beautiful collection of fur coats from Saint Petersburg was presented in Las Vegas. I want to tell talents from Russia about my wish to help and support them.
- The threshold of spring is present and women want to look even better. What style will you recommend in this season?
- I recommend styles of bright colors, delicate fabrics, and always considering your individuality. I urge women to wear dresses. Be feminine and attractive for your man’s eyes! Be not only a provider and a household machine, but, first of all, be a woman. I will take advantage of this opportunity and congratulate Russian women with Women’s Day. I wish you all to be beautiful, loved, and happy!
-Thank you very much, Tatyana, for the interesting talk, your magnanimity, and your openness. I must say that your amazing life and your character are able to encourage the last skeptic to believe in a dream. I wish you more inspiration and energy in your work for many years to come.
Translated by Mariet Fosnes edited by Kent Fosnes
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