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If It Doesn't Make You Feel Something: Anna Bolina's Fashion Philosophy
NCO 054

N: Hey Anna! How are you? How has New York been treating you lately?

A: As always with me, it's been a mix of very high highs and very low lows. There have been a lot of changes in my life recently that are long-term beneficial, but change is hard for me. It's taken me a bit to land back on my feet, but I'm moving forward and that's what matters most. New York has been treating me like everyone else here, with chaotic tough love.

N: Could you describe Anna Bolina with a slogan?


N: Your work is already an iconic statement of the New York underground. Is there a particular place in New York City that fuels your creativity?

A: Music, dance, and performance fuels something in me that makes me want to express emotion in a way that feels like, if I don't get it out, I'll go crazy. I think fashion is my outlet to express those emotions.

There is this recurring impression that your work is truly the reflection of who you are, what you like, and what's surrounding you. How do you keep up with the pace of fashion when you are your own trend?

It's definitely hard because my work is very tied to my actual life. So, if there's a roadblock, it hits my creativity and productivity hard. I keep up with the pace (as best I can) because, to me, there isn't another option.

Losing momentum now is not an option. I just have to keep going no matter what. Even if it's slower because I'm not feeling inspired, or having a creative block, or don't want to put on my makeup and hair extensions and be seen by anyone, I have to keep moving because it's really the only thing that can make me feel better.

N: To me, your designs have a powerful sense of liberation and empowerment that really shines through. In a way, very reminiscent of philosopher Nietzsche, who advocated for individuals to find their own personal values and to live authentically, rather than trying to conform to societal norms and expectations. Nietzsche also famously declared that "God is dead." Do you see your work as contributing to a new kind of cultural narrative in response to this loss of faith?

A: I can see the connection, yeah. It's hard not to feel apathetic in our world right now, and it's a lot easier to follow others than create your own thing. Maybe currently, it's more of a loss of faith in ourselves than God. It's scary to put yourself out there when it's not only permanent, but the whole world can see it, judge, and comment.

N: I feel like, with other designers, I would have asked if you could design an outfit for a celebrity to wear on the red carpet. Who would it be and what would the outfit look like? But with you, it feels like the celebrity you want to see on the red carpet with your clothes is yourself, or your people. It's interesting the way you seem to explore the notion of power, not in a way of "wanting to be them," but more so of taking over them. What's your next power move?

A: I guess I should figure that out, huh? Like I mentioned, I've been in a couple of months of transition. Moved studios, apartments, trying to become an actual business that isn't just me running myself into the ground. I'm finally feeling like myself again, so it will come. Wait and see.

N: Thank you very much for taking the time to exchange with me, Anna. To close the interview, what do you want more of?

A: I want more disruption, passion, and stimulation from the creative world around me.

All images courtesy of Anna Bolina.  
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