The start of a new decade always brings with it a period of reflection. As David Koma looks back on the last ten years, he has leapt from being a student to having his own fashion, an accolade most designers don't achieve in a lifetime. Despite this, he remains alarmingly humble, proof that the traditional values instilled within him as a child have not wavered; values that are also evident within his streamlined, empowering designs – the Koma customer is a force to be reckoned with. She is glamorous but not girlie, a woman who would much prefer to be overdressed to underdressed, a refreshing antidote to the £700 trainer storming the catwalk and our streets today.
This is an interview extract. Find out the full version in the Spring Summer 2020 Issue 4
Get your copy here.
This year you celebrate an incredible ten years in a notoriously short-lived industry. Before we discuss your career please can you tell us about your family?
I was born in Tbilisi, Georgia into a very sports-oriented family. My mother is a geologist and my father is an engineer, which is why my path in life is quite unexpected. I was very lucky that my penchant for drawing was discovered early on, I was eight when I started sketching clothing, and that my parents were extremely supportive in developing it. At thirteen, I entered my first design competition and at fifteen I showed my first mini collection. I am so thankful to my parents – they fed my talent. But most importantly they shared fantastic advice and, importantly, taught me to value hard work and respect.
Which designers did you grow up admiring?
There were so many incredible designers that inspired me in my youth from Azzedine Alaïa, Pierre Cardin, Geoffrey Beene, Gianni Versace to Thierry Mugler, and that’s just to mention a few. That’s why it was such a dream come true to be asked to become artistic director at Mugler back in 2013. Manfred Thierry will always be my inspiration!
What was your experience at Central Saint Martins like?
Studying at Central Saint Martins was the best time of my life. I am not even exaggerating! I was doing what I loved every day, in such an exciting city and had access to the most amazing library. I was incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such talented students from a real range of different courses.
Studying at Central Saint Martins was the best time of my life.
Your brand was born just after the ﬁnancial crash. Did you come up against any scepticism and how did you convince others to back you?
I was very lucky to receive a lot of support. I have to thank the British Fashion Council and their various programmes including NEWGEN and Fashion Forward for all the backing that allowed me to grow and develop. I’ve been a part of their talent incubator since the beginning. Ten years on BFC are just as supportive. A few months ago BFC celebrated David Koma anniversary with a fantastic dinner in New York – it was a rare moment when I could thank Caroline Rush and the team for all their efforts over the years.
You have garnered an impressive roster of celebrity clientele including: Jennifer Lopez, Scarlett Johansson, Ciara, Gwyneth Paltrow, Doutzen Kroes and Elsa Hosk to name just a few. What does this support mean to you and your brand?
I feel blessed at having such an amazing roster of multi-talented women wearing my creations. I never design with one specific woman in mind so it is always exciting to see my pieces worn by real women, especially ones that I respect. I feel like I speak the same language with the Koma girls – we understand each other.
Who is the David Koma woman?
The David Koma woman is a modern and complicated character, a so-called new femme fatale – strong and confident, with a sophisticated sex appeal. She is also full of contrasts. She is tough yet sensual, free yet controlled, youthful yet mature – rather reflective of the real 21st century women.
The David Koma woman is a modern and complicated character, a so-called new femme fatale – strong and confident, with a sophisticated sex appeal
Where was your fascination for dressing the female form born?
I always felt inspired by women – but not just by their physical form. Women are the most unique and powerful creatures in the world. They have the ability to grow a child inside them and then give birth to it, to love unconditionally and to build a home. They are truly fascinating!
Women are the most unique and powerful creatures in the world.
Whose your biggest market and where would you like to expand into?
Our biggest market is the USA, closely followed by our expansion into Asia. We have had great editorial support from the Asian press with recent covers of Marie Claire China and Vogue Japan, as well as having some absolutely stunning images in Harper’s Bazaar China. We are also dressing fantastic, celebrities in the region. Asia is getting to know the David Koma brand more and more. I am very excited about the opportunities this huge and fascinating region will bring!
What is the future of David Koma?
The future is definitely exciting! Now that the first, establishing decade of the brand is behind us, I am not afraid to experiment. I am working on growing and developing us even further. Firstly, I am planning to expanding our product offering and I am particularly excited about one day diving into a swimwear collection for the brand. As for the rest? You have to wait and see!
Read David's interview in the Spring Summer 2020 Issue 4. Get your copy here.
Talent Mag Cysewska appears courtesy of Titanium Management.
Makeup by Barrie Griffith using Rodial Cosmetics.
Photo assistant, Austn Fischer. Massimo appears courtesy of WM Management.
Barrie and Julia appears courtesy of Frank Agency