Julie Vojtovics, a talented costume designer and fashion archivist, is the driving force behind Vors Archive. Born in Kyiv in 1990, she has cultivated a passion for historical garments and eventually established her career in the film industry. In this interview, we delve into Julie's captivating journey, her inspirations, her love for the period between the 1880s and 1930s, and her perspective on today's fashion scene.
N: Hi Julie! You are just so glamorous, it's a pleasure to interview you. I have to ask, how did you get into fashion? Can you tell us a bit more about your background?
J: Hey! Great thank you and it’s lovely to be interviewed by you!
I’m not really working in fashion as much as I work in film as a costume designer, mostly on period projects where research and history is involved. I was born in Kyiv in 1990 and at that time all that my mom could afford was to make clothes or go to get some second hand pieces to remake and I would normally just wear my cousins clothes once they grew out of them. I grew up in a big family with cousins, uncle, aunts and grandparents in one apartment. Each of them had a different taste and style. My uncle played a big role in my childhood, he was the closest person to me until a certain age, he was the first one who would take me to a huge market with second hand clothing when I was 5 or 6 years old. Most of the garments had been brought by Middle Eastern and African communities from the UK - which is probably why I’m still very inspired by the British way of dressing / styling / texture combining.
We would continue our day on the landfill where we would find wires, electronic devices, fabrics, sometimes clothes, soviet toys, books and at home we would create things from already found items, create sets inside our tiny apartment, costumes and wigs.
We would perform right after in the biggest room at our flat, neighbours from the whole 12 storey building had to buy tickets to come or pay with sweets. I think this was the key moment where I thought this is what I’d like to do. But at that time I thought "this is just fun and I can’t earn from this in the future".... Guess it was just Soviet parents' mentality involved.
After graduating from university (I studied mathematics and economics for some reason), I started to assist a costume designer in Kyiv. I went on to meet a few British costume designers on set who inspired me a lot and one day after organising all the documents I moved to London.
I moved in 2014 and started to work as an intern at fashion magazines first, assisting fashion stylists. I thought that’s what I want to do but wasn’t really impressed and decided I’ll continue to work in film.
To me there is more passion in terms of history, research and costume performance itself. I like when things make sense. And through the years me and the boyfriend I had at that time would create Bratsk (costume designers duo) + Vors Archive. I started to work as a costume designer around 2016.
N: You operate a fashion archive named Vors preserving garments dated from the 18th century up until modern times. What does a typical day look like for you and how do you source your pieces?
J: Me and my colleague created an archive just because we couldn’t stop being fascinated by items that were created centuries ago. We started it spontaneously 8 years ago while working on historical projects and usually we would source garments at markets, through collectors, online, auction houses. Really depends on the time of the year, country and budget.
N: Any particular historical era you are most passionate about?
J: Yes, it’s the period from the 1880s till 1930s.
N: Fashion today seems to be going in two opposite directions. We have new "cores" popping up and being discarded everyday, while on the flip side, #archivalfashion is garnering millions of views on TikTok. What is your take on today's fashion scene? What do you think is drawing the new generation into wanting to know more about the history of what they are wearing?
J: I guess people just want to be different. Our eyes require new form and texture. Knowing history offers more room to create and rework an already existing piece into new reality.
N: I was instantly drawn to the way you style and re-contextualize archival items into a contemporary wardrobe. Without giving away all your secrets, could you share some tips on where to find amazing pieces?
J: Thank you! The only way to find items is to have time, they are everywhere. It really depends, older items are harder to find of course but it’s still possible.
N: What is your most treasured piece of clothing or accessory that you own?
J: There are a few. There is one item which is the most expensive jacket we offer to hire for research. I cannot tell what it is exactly. We found it online while going through 8000 items on eBay by just putting "jacket" in the search bar. Another piece, which was presented a few weeks ago at our "Vors'' exhibition launch during Paris Fashion Week, is a pair of feet-binding shoes from the 18th century. They are unbelievable. I found them in Hastings at a market a few years ago.
N: To conclude, what is next for you and Vors archive?
J: I'm planning to do another exhibition. Now, Vors archive is based in Paris and open for appointments/research.
Another idea I have is to create lectures that are based on a certain historical garments I have.
So, stay tuned!