In 2012 Alfia Aysitulina from St. Petersburg came across some fabrics with retro prints and patterns. She sewed two dresses from them, which everyone including herself liked so much that she decided to make more similarly unusual outfits.
“The main thing is, of course, beauty. It all started with that. The incredible floral motifs are like nothing you get these days,” says Alfia on Instagram.
She began to search for Soviet-era fabrics on ad posting sites. They turned out to be fairly plentiful, since Soviet people, accustomed to shortages, had a habit of sewing their own clothes and stocking up on materials for a rainy day.
“I track them down and finally give them a chance to become outfits! Beautiful, current, environmentally friendly,” says Alfia in conversation with Russia Beyond.
She designs the dresses herself, and has created a kind of repository of templates, which she supplements with more modern details, including loose-fitting sleeves, ruches, and freeform silhouettes.
To begin with, Alfia sewed just for herself and friends, but now there are much more orders. This prompted her to create her own brand, Kookaburra. Each dress she sews individually, after the client has selected the fabrics from those available, images of which she uploads to her Instagram page.
The dresses suit everyone’s taste. They are mainly ordered by women aged 27-35, but her customers also include 16-year-olds and ladies over 55. “Children’s fabrics — in particular flannel depicting puppies, cars, pencils, and ducklings — are such a source of innocent nostalgia for today’s adults,” says the designer.
Some orders even come from the U.S., albeit from Russian-speaking emigrants.
In recent years, high-profile Western designers have created a trend for knitted floral dresses. But Alfia says that she simply follows her own tastes. “I never thought these dresses were in fashion. They seem like meta-clothing to me, something that lives outside of trends. I can readily wear dresses today that I sewed 4-6 years ago without risking being out of step with the times.”