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PLAKINGER INTERVIEW WITH EURASIAN VOGUE

PLAKINGER INTERVIEW WITH EURASIAN VOGUE

PLAKINGER interview with Stacy Fan fashion editor and founder of Eurasian Vogue and columnist of Harper's Bazaar, China. Read the whole interview here:

"When I first came across PLAKINGER'S designs I was instantly a fan. Their collection is so feminine in silhouette but with elements of traditional men’s tailoring making the cut and structure of each piece elegant and effortlessly beautiful at the same time. In short, true perfection. 

When I found out the company was founded by a mother and daughter duo, Svetlana Ziggel and her mother Galina Plakinge, I realized the reason for the perfect combination and balance within their designs.

Their brands foundation is luxury. Beginning the collection with bespoke atelier designs for a luxury clientele from Russia, Arabic countries and the US and now, PLAKINGER are now expanding their line with high-end ready to wear. 

Incorporating incredible fabric, high luxury pieces that are truly effortless, resulting in modern classic pieces that are unpretentious in design and uncompromising in quality. Sharing the same fabric suppliers as Dior, Chanel and Burberry whilst keeping a reasonable price point makes PLAKINGER a go to brand for new luxury. Not only that but the clothes are 100% handmade in their atelier in Germany and produced in limited quantities making each piece unique and of the highest standard. I was understandably excited to talk to the designers themselves about their collection and their new high-end ready to wear line! 

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Svetlana Ziggel and Galina Plakinger thank you for taking the time to interview.

Galina, I read that you worked as a bespoke clothing atelier prior to starting up PLAKINGER. When did you first become interested in fashion and where did you work prior to starting up PLAKINGER with your daughter?

Galina Plakinger:
As a young woman in the former Soviet Union I used to sew my own clothing to look different and more fashionable. So I decided to learn women`s fashion design specialising in tailoring and cuts. I have been working as a bespoke tailor since then.

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Svetlana, when did you first become interested in fashion? Having grown up with it because of your mother, did you always know you wanted to pursue a career in fashion or was there another path you were also considering?

Svetlana Ziggel:
I used to spend a lot of time at my mother’s atelier when I was a little girl. I remember that I would always stop by her working place after school and do my homework there before going home. I then started to dive into the world of fabrics, colours, and textures watching her and the other women creating tailor-made clothing.

Before we established PLAKINGER I pursued a career in the financial services industry, as I did not want to follow my parents’ paths at the time. This background is of course very useful now for the commercial side of the company. I always continued to stay involved in my mother’s business and followed fashion very closely.

Svetlana, can you tell me about any fashion memories you have of your mother, either her getting ready to go out, or any shopping experiences you had with your mother as a child? Have you always shared a love of fashion together?

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Svetlana Ziggel: 
The magic spot in our family’s apartment for me and my sister was my mother’s wardrobe. It was full of the handmade pieces she sewed or pieces which were contemporary in the early 80s. I still remember her pleated pale blue skirt, her violet coloured velvet high-heel sandals, her Mongolian lamb’s wool coat or her self-embroidered cotton pieces. Unfortunately we had to leave most of these when we moved to Germany; it really is a pity and I often think about those garments. Maybe this is the reason behind my love of vintage pieces.

Galina, how did you feel when you knew your daughter wanted to begin a career in fashion? It must have been a great way to bond over a shared passion?

Galina Plakinger: 
I was flattered and very excited when she proposed the idea of jointly establishing a fashion label. We immediately shared the idea of creating contemporary, luxurious fashion with a strong influence of bespoke tailoring. Needless to say that I felt honoured when Svetlana first raised the idea, mostly when she suggested using her maiden name - our family name - as the brand name. We had a very strong bond before already, but with PLAKINGER we now spend even more time together.

You founded the brand together. How did the idea come about? Do you remember the moment it was first discussed? 

Svetlana Ziggel: 
The idea of starting PLAKINGER evolved from the work of my mother as a bespoke tailor. The level of dedication to details goes far beyond the quality of today’s ready-to-wear collections. Classic cuts are icons of timeless fashion. We wanted to offer such quality to women. This is how it all started. It was less a moment but rather a long term process until we took the final decision.

Was it a big decision or something that felt easy and a natural step?

Svetlana Ziggel:
It was both. It was a big decision because creating ready-to-wear fashion is very different from bespoke tailoring. We also added new items like accessories, knitwear or printed garments to complete the label. At the same time, establishing our own label felt like the “natural next step” for us.

How long did it take from idea to launching the company?

Galina Plakinger:
We were able to present our first collection quite quickly as we leveraged the capabilities of our bespoke atelier. But it was still a crunch for the atelier at the time as the number of pieces to be produced for a collection is higher than what we were used to for the tailoring business.

Our process and production have changed since our first collection and we have learned a lot. Also, when designing clothes for a broader and very international clientele, we needed more time to consider and anticipate, compared to a bespoke client who will typically tell us about preferences and expectations.

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You began with a clientele from Russia, Arabic countries and the U.S. How did you establish yourselves in these countries and how did your customers find out about PLAKINGER when you first started out? 

Svetlana Plakinger:
We started to distribute our products online; the first client came from Dubai and contacted us regarding a dress before we even opened the shop. Runway2Street whose owner we met in Paris was our first online store partner and a great support to establish the brand. From there, PLAKINGER developed based on word of mouth.

Today, we feel that our style addresses very well the preferences and taste in our core markets in Europe, Asia, the Arabic region and the US; needless to say that the PLAKINGER style also succeeds in other peripheral regions.

I love that you have now created a high-end ready to wear line. Can you tell me more about this line?

Galina Plakinger:
PLAKINGER is based on feminine and timeless details. Our brand is a vibrant mix of modern and unpretentious luxurious fashion. Sensual but strong, feminine and bold, romantic but mysterious, PLAKINGER conveys what women empowerment is all about. Our clients are elegant and confident women who love being effortlessly chic.

Can you tell me about your creative process, from inspiration to the final product?

Svetlana Plakinger:
We try to stay ahead of what is next to come, culturally as well as socially. In that regard, we follow our intuition and there can be special moments or events that define the baseline for a collection. Our Autumn Winter 2016/2017 collection is a tribute to the splendid vibes of the 1970s inspired by Jerry Hall and photographed in the heritage building of the Shanghai Waldorf Astoria.

When we decide upon a collection’s inspiration we will start with fabrics selection and print development. My mother develops the cuts in parallel and as soon as the fabrics arrive at our atelier she will start producing the prototypes. This is the ideal scenario. Unfortunately we need to deal with delays, fabrics flaws and other unexpected factors. So oftentimes there are surprises and lots of overnight work before we ultimately finish a collection.

Do you both share the same sense of style, and how do you bring your visions together? 

Galina Plakinger:
Regarding the general philosophy and direction, we are on the same page and I think it is a prerequisite for a duo creating fashion; particularly in a family business. At the same time, when it comes to details and specific designs we disagree quite frequently. You would not believe how long we discuss certain details, comfort of wear or long-term fit for instance.

We embrace that dialogue as a gift. Our designs together are better than any of our individual ideas. This process is a crucial part in the way we work.

How do you divide up your roles within the company? 

Svetlana Ziggel: 
We both work on the design process and take all decisions together. But I focus more on developing the inspirations and print ideas, choosing suitable fabrics and preparing the first ideas for the cuts. The selection of exquisite and luxurious fabrics is important too, as they are the texture on which our ideas are based. And I am spending a major part of my day with communication, either with our suppliers, partners or clients.

Galina Plakinger: 
I am more involved in the technical process of tailoring the garments and developing the cuts. The perfectly tailored fit is the most important feature as I want to get our clothes as close as possible to a bespoke fit.

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Can you run through what a typical day is like for you both?

Svetlana Ziggel: 
Emails come first every day. I am working with partners in Asia, I live in Germany myself and I have partners and clients in the US as well, so I need to cover different time zones. Thereafter I would take care of my kids before they go to school, and then I have a chat with my mother to discuss what is going on in the atelier during the day. When we develop a new collection we talk very often, so I can see the prototypes and first cuts. I usually pick-up my kids from school in the afternoon and spend some time with them. Though, in-between and when they go to bed I continue my work for PLAKINGER.

Galina Plakinger: 
I start my days very early; my youngest son was living with me until this summer so we had breakfast together every morning. Right after I would start working in my atelier. There are often meetings with our bespoke clients. I usually have lunch with my mother and I continue to work until the evening. At the moment we are very busy with the PLAKINGER Spring/Summer 2017 collection that will be showcased in Paris in September. Working on a new collection can be very exhausting for the body and the mind as well. I enjoy doing some gardening or sports, it helps me relax.

Do you ever creatively disagree on how you see the final collection and if so, how do you compromise and bring both of your aesthetics and visions together?

Galina Plakinger:
I think for any kind of designer duos - not only mother/daughter - teamwork is crucial. With respect, clearly defined tasks and lots of passion for what we are doing we manage to direct our creativity smoothly. We do disagree creatively sometimes; but as mentioned previously, it is part of finding superior designs and better solutions.

Svetlana Ziggel:
There is a lot of strength and power in a mother/daughter relationship to capitalise on, and we are trying to take advantage of that as much as we can. My mother and I always had a close relationship and it helps us find common grounds whenever we have a discussion, which we have plenty of. It is less about giving in for the sake of our relationship, but rather the respect that makes this process productive and ultimately positive.

How would you both describe your personal, individual style? 

Svetlana Ziggel:
I have to adapt my style to my working and family environments. It needs to be casual on a daily basis. My style is classic, chic but comfortable. This also gives me the opportunity to find some distance from the fashion business even though I enjoy wearing PLAKINGER a lot. I love mixing our pieces with either casual wear on a daily basis, or dressing it up with my vintage pieces or pieces from other designers whenever there is an occasion.

Galina Plakinger:
My style is versatile. I want to feel comfortable when I am in the atelier, but I might need to be ready for the next client meeting quickly as I still do my bespoke tailoring. I got used to mix and matching comfortable basics with more sophisticated separates like a blazer or a statement coat. I also love wearing PLAKINGER as it reflects so much of our taste and design philosophy; these pieces are emotionally as important to me as those that I sewed when I was younger.

Your line is so luxurious, sharing the same fabric suppliers as Dior, Chanel and Burberry but still keeping the collection at a reasonable price point. The collection is also 100% handmade in your atelier in Germany and produced in limited quantities. In such an age of fast fashion how important is this quality to you and how did you manage to avoid the temptation of mass production and lesser quality material? 

Galina Plakinger:
Quality is in PLAKINGER’s DNA. It will always be because we decided to create a luxurious and timeless line. This might sound anachronistic in a world where fast fashion dictates the market. But there are women out there who are looking for haute couture quality and pieces that they will be able to pass on to their daughter later on. PLAKINGER is an heritage. We don’t have the pressure of huge marketing budgets which need to be funded through mass production. So we are at an advantage to provide exclusive garments. We do so in a very sensitive manner. We create garments for a lifetime and in limited editions. We don’t compromise. This is our philosophy.

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How would you describe PLAKINGER in one sentence?

Galina Plakinger:
Sensual and strong with a cosmopolitan elegance, PLAKINGER`s collections are designed to accompany confident women in perfect style.

I love that you also do children’s clothing! When did you begin doing the children’s line and how did the idea of beginning this collection come about? Was it a request from your customer? 

Svetlana Ziggel:
I have a little girl myself and we made the very first pieces for her. Nonetheless, we had some mothers as our clients who wanted their daughters to wear matching dresses. The reactions were very positive as we used the same quality standards regarding fit, design and fabrics as in the main women collection. When we started selling in China, offering a matching mother-and-daughter line was an idea that came up pretty quickly. We take a lot of pleasure designing girlswear, the luxurious quality is the same but can be more playful with the cuts and details.

I would love to talk about the expansion of your company into China. Can you tell me more about how long it took to open up your first store there and how the partnership with the Chinese luxury group came about?

Svetlana Ziggel:
We opened our first flagship store in China in December last year. We received the support of a Chinese luxury group that completely fell in love with our clothes. The Chinese market is very important so we were very grateful for the opportunity. Our PR and sales agent lives in China – although she is French – and thus she knows the local market. When she was approached by this group it all went very fast and within a couple of months we started selling in China, firstly in their concept stores, but thereafter also in our first flagship store.

Do you see a difference in your European customer to your Chinese customer? Do you think there is a difference in the way they shop or style themselves?

Galina Plakinger:
Chinese women are much more open to buying new brands and designs. The way they dress really define who they are. Also, in China customers take more pleasure and appreciation in shopping and enjoying luxury. We are very happy with our Chinese endeavours. We can’t wait to showcase our new collections to our Chinese fanbase.

You recently shot your Autumn-Winter 16/17 in the Shanghai Waldorf Astoria on the Bund, what made you decide to shoot there and what did you think of Shanghai? Did it give you any inspirations for your next collection?

Svetlana Ziggel:
We are art deco lovers so shooting at the Waldorf Astoria on the Bund was perfect for us. The Waldorf, his story and heritage are very inspiring and go very well with our image. Our clientele can appreciate the vibes of the past era that are apparent everywhere in the hotel. It’s refined, chic and so cozy. Shanghai is quite unique, so many people from different backgrounds helped shape this city. The Former French Concession is awesome .With the trees, it feels like a Parisian village. We saw people wearing their pyjamas outside. We will definitely incorporate this Shanghainese laid-back atmosphere in our next collection.

The inspiration behind the Autumn-Winter 16/17 collection was Jerry Hall. What was it about her that inspired this collection? 

Svetlana Ziggel:
Our last collection was inspired by the iconic love story between Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger. This “rock’n’roll chic” collection is a tribute to the splendid vibes of the 1970s. Jerry Hall is the perfect muse. She embodies the contrast between coziness and formal elegance, minimalist androgynous style and cosmopolitan edge… Just remember how amazing she looked in a strong pantsuit ! She was also equally feminine wearing a dress.

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What else inspires you both? 

Svetlana Plakinger:
I take a lot of my inspiration from travelling. I like experiencing a new culture, a new world where different rules of taste and aesthetics apply. Just think about how different such journeys feel with the local food, flavours, colours and sounds.

Galina Plakinger:
I often feel like a commuter between two different worlds of taste. As I was born in the former Soviet Union, my taste has started its journey in a different culture and society. I embrace the diverse influences that you can see in today’s world and while living in Europe I enjoy different taste and aesthetics.

What other designers do you look up to?

Galina Plakinger: 
I love the work of Josep Font for Delpozo. I followed each of his collections since he stepped in as creative director. The amazing details, the construction of cuts and the play with volume, the colour palette and the extraordinariness of each collection are fascinating.

Svetlana Ziggel:
I really like the work of Raf Simons for Dior and his last collection for Jil Sander. The play on textures and the selection of fabrics, and his approach to contemporary fashion are highly inspiring.

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You have already accomplished so much with PLAKINGER with international stores and recognition. What else do you hope to achieve with PLAKINGER and where would you like to see the company in ten years from now?

Svetlana Ziggel:
We are very happy and grateful for what we have achieved already and the opportunity to jointly develop fashion in our current set up for our clients and the pleasure that we can hopefully offer them.We would like to further complete PLAKINGER with additional accessories, bags or maybe even shoes. And of course looking into our future, we would love to successfully grow the label with carefully selected high-end stockists worldwide.

Where else internationally do you hope to open up stores in the future?

Svetlana Ziggel:
We have a good retail network in the Middle East so we are targeting the Asian market now. We would like to further expand PLAKINGER in China and Hong Kong; Beijing would be nice as we have more and more requests from private clients there.

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