C California Style

Inside her Larchmont atelier, the designer drapes heavy silks and architectural organzas into unexpectedly airy geometric dresses. Photography by Polly Pierce, courtesy of Aliona Kononova.
Sketches by the designer. Photography courtesy of Aliona Kononova.
Kononova’s hats seem simultaneously otherworldly and of-the-moment. Photography by Polly Pierce, courtesy of Aliona Kononova.
The pop-up space, designed by Kononova. Photography by Polly Pierce, courtesy of Aliona Kononova.

Vision Quest

by C California Style

Inside designer Aliona Kononova’s L.A. Pop-Up Studio

Aliona Kononova. Photography by Eliot Lee Hazel, courtesy of Aliona Kononova.

“I love neoprene for experimental pieces,” says Moldovan fashion designer Aliona Kononova, dressed in the space-age material as she parses the last details of her newest designs. “The fabric itself has a bit of life, like pencils that make the letters look rounder and everything suddenly looks more beautiful.” Kononova’s pop-up atelier, called Visitors, a cozy new Larchmont space for her Spring/Summer 2018 collection and custom pieces, is the latest in a series of temporary studios around Los Angeles, the city she’s called home for the past five years. Set on a shaded street just off Melrose, the spot is lined with stark racks holding colorful and decidedly modern frocks. Kononova, who is also an accomplished milliner, pulls on a new circular white hat and nods to herself in approval. She favors angular shapes and unexpected fabrics, having combed vintage shops and the Rose Bowl Flea Market for the deco chairs (reupholstered in a charmingly offbeat baby duck-patterned fabric) and midcentury lamps inside her space.

 

The designer trained and worked in Milan for 13 years before collaborating with master milliner Stephen Jones, and credits Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as a frequent source of inspiration. Although the film’s futuristic Pan Am uniforms and hats could seamlessly fit in Kononova’s design universe, she’s most obsessed with the plot’s central idea of a computer developing its own consciousness. Her spring collection explores the concept of inanimate objects becoming aware. The looks on display inside Visitors are directly inspired by another sci-fi masterpiece, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris, and can also be custom-ordered. “The dresses visit you, they’re part of you,” she says. “It feels as if you’ve somehow created them—they’ve come from you, just like the dreams in the film.” By appointment only. 665 Lillian Way, L.A., 323-318-0879; alionakononova.com.

Written by ELIZABETH VARNELL.

 

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of C Magazine.