Romantic movies, idyllic postcards, and Instagram influencers often portray idyllic scenes of Paris presenting it "as the most beautiful city in the world". Perhaps this is true, but the media also forgets to present Paris as a “real city”, in which people from all around the world work hard to pursue the best opportunities to boost their careers and improve their lives. As a fashion capital, this city particularly attracts young fashion lovers who come to make themselves a success story.
Amongst all these dreamers only a few accomplish as much as Victoria Feldman and Tomas Berzins. Two European immigrants who met at fashion school, fell in love, and created their eponymous label "Victoria/Tomas".
Founded in 2012, the brand has had consistent growth and exposure since the couple gained international recognition as they became the youngest finalists of the Hyeres Festival in 2013. Its clothes are currently sold at several of the finest stores around the world, and their shows are covered by fashion magazines such as Vogue.
Victoria, you are originally from Russia, and Tomas, you also have Latvian origins. We know that you met at a fashion school in Paris, but we are curious to know more about each of your stories before coming to France. What drove you to come to this city at the time?
I moved to France when I was a teen, but I was born and raised in Moscow.
My father was working between Russia and France ever since I can remember and I was also studying in a French school, so it was quite obvious that I will move to France sooner or later.
My family and I moved to the Drome region, not far from the Alps. There I continued studying in art school, whereupon I decided to move to Paris. At the moment I felt that fashion design can be a better choice for me to express my creativity and also creating a functional product at the same time.
Me and Victoria, we have a very different story, as I never thought that I will study and work in France. Till the end, I didn't know what direction to take for my career. I was quite an uncontrolled teen, with lots of dreams & without much of reality awareness. But, I was always interested in clothes and also in drawing. I was never at the top of the class but we were the coolest kids at school.
I always had friends who were older than me and the best dressed. We were always finding solutions to get the best and newest pieces from BBC, Bape, LV, Gucci... even though no one of us had money. So I was very much into clothes, but in fact, knowing nothing about designing them.
At one of the random parties, we started to discuss future plans and randomly came to the point where we said that we need to try ourselves in fashion.
After some researches, my friend and I found several schools in Paris and applied. In a few months, we had our flight to Paris for the entry exams and we finally got accepted, regardless of the fact that I was only 17 and didn't even graduate. I had to leave alone to Paris, as my friend decided to stay for personal reasons.
I met Victoria at the end of our 1st year of studies and the rest is history.
First looks of Victoria/Tomas Spring Summer 2020. Courtesy of the designers.
Tomas, in your early years, what did the experience as an intern for Alexander Wang in New York left you? Was this experience a crucial pivot point in your perspective?
It was certainly a very important experience for me and even for both of us at the time.
I was working closely with seamstresses and pattern makers, so I could widely discover techniques, machinery, and special tools, etc. I am very grateful to the people who didn't bother to explain things to the interns and did care about sharing their experience. I was also very inspired by the energy of the city, working and living daily life in NY definitely leaves a certain beat in your life.
What has been your greatest challenge in founding this brand and making it successful?
Launching the brand very young is already a very difficult task. You need to understand that the road won't be easy and it's hard to stay patient when you are hungry. We still think that success is something very blurred as you always race for more. The hardest thing is to enjoy the difficulties that you meet and keep your emotions locked up, even if you understand that you are right at some point.
What special qualities do you think have been crucial to make your brand growth and become influential?
You should be an extreme workaholic, but to look always fresh and sober. Also, be grateful and respectful of people around you and your business. Be intuitive and patient.
Which artists and designers inspire you the most?
We think the most important thing in our job is to be distinctive. We are not inspired by someone, we rather can be inspired by a situation, object or a talk. This is a creative dialogue between us, between man and a woman, we weirdly enjoy inspiring each other by our controversy.
We like many artists and we very much respect other designers' work, but we don't look at it while we work on the new project, sometimes we need to learn about other collections but actually to avoid a possible match in design.
Looks from Victoria/Tomas Spring/Summer 2020. Courtesy of the designers.
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