With a simple T-shirt, jeans, and a small bag hanging over her shoulder, Lily Mehrabian approached the table in Mirzoyan Library ready to begin our conversation on her latest success stories in the fashion industry. Our conversation took us to Lily’s childhood memories where her passion for art manifested and continued to fill her thoughts up to when she graduated high school. Besides art, mathematics, curiously enough, was the subject she mastered during her studies, and the subject her dad wanted Lily to continue with in terms of her future career. However, the dream of becoming a painter in her school years has turned out to be a passion for creating clothing lines. “I do love art but my parents thought that this love will dissolve throughout time,” says Lily. She has graduated from Physical-Mathematical specialized school and has been accepted to the State Academy of Fine Arts with a scholarship. Holding diplomas from two different specializations she still draws a parallel with math and fashion stating that math does help her in constructing blocks and patterns for her collections. At some point in her life, Lily felt the need to combine her hobby and job so to earn money out of her works, that is where the idea of trying herself in fashion industry arose.
“Art is subjective” – this is how Lily refers to her study years at the State Academy of Fine Arts. If math has precise answers, the comments of professors in the academy were based on personal taste or understanding of art. It makes hard for students to understand specific requirements concerning their projects. While there are graduates who consider this institution to not fulfill the requirements of delivering proper knowledge in the art sphere, Lily says that it also depends on students whether they will get the desired outcome from their studies. And it is important to understand that by relying on institutions in search of knowledge, people may end up not getting their desired results because self-education is also an integral part of development.
Before she began to work on her graduate project, Lily had in mind an idea of starting her own brand. As for her final project, the choice of the topic fell on ‘asymmetry,’ which continues to be one of the main inspirations of her fashion pieces to these days. She explains her choice with the love of juxtaposing ideas that are also discussed in her favorite book “Inside and Outside” written by Herman Hesse. When it comes to describing her personal style in few words, she says: “mess and oversize,” which can also define her works. “The moment you trace the curves with clothes it becomes less interesting because you expose more. I do love the distance and air between the body and the dress as if the dress also lives,” explains Lily her choice of oversize silhouettes.
She neither follows trends nor seeks inspiration in magazines but a character is what sparks her interest and motivates her to create clothes. When Mad Hatter saw the Red Queen in the Alice in Wonderland story, he said: “You have a regrettably large head! I would very much like to hat it!” but when Lily sees people in the streets their characters makes her create a clothing which will either recreate the character or create a new one. Perhaps at these moments, she says: “You have a very interesting character! I would very much like to dress it!” “If before we would see people and distinguish a doctor from another professional based on his/her attire, today it is more interesting: we look at people and begin to invent the character,” says Lily. And while a clothing may be beautiful on its own, the moment someone wears it, it comes to life. Here, she concludes: “The clothing is the man.”
But if not magazines, Instagram pages or trends, then what inspires Lily to create her clothing? Yohji Yamamoto and Comme de Garcon, in short. The creative process of her collection creation she remembers with a smile. The first three questions she asks herself before starting the creation process are:
- What season are my designs for?
- On what detail am I going to put emphasize? For instance, constructions or forms.
- Who is going to wear my designs?
The conversation turned into the discussion of the state of the fashion industry in Armenia and possible obstacles that prevent the development of the sphere. After Lily’s first visit to Tbilisi, she shared the observations that made her consider why in her opinion Armenia has not yet developed its’ fashion sector as did our neighbor country – Georgia. Besides the lack of materials, which she does not consider a huge obstacle for the fashion industry, she says that “Armenians do not appreciate handwork. If someone creates a one-of-its-kind piece, Armenians would not pay as much attention to it as Georgians,” says Lily. And continues, “I feel like, for instance, if we decide to become Buddhists tomorrow, we will destroy all the churches in Armenia. We do not quite appreciate the values we have,” reflects Lily on the destruction of old buildings in Armenia.
For all that being said, Lily still sees potential in Armenian youth to develop the fashion sector and her main suggestion for those who want to be involved in fashion is to present oneself in a proper way i.e. besides the creativity and great designs without a decent promotion little can be reached. As for now, Lily’s long-term goal is to have a group of dedicated people that will cooperate with her in continuing her brand’s mission. Before thinking about trying her hand in fashion design in other countries, she is willing to do her best, first, in Armenia by doing what she loves and stepwisely making her way towards her career goals.