With an impressive portfolio including collaborations with esteemed brands like Dior, Balmain, and fanci.club, as well as notable features in prestigious publications such as Vogue, The Greatest Magazine, and Sleek, Alina has emerged as a truly assertive creative director to be reckoned with in the fashion industry. Now at the helm of her own studio, she brings her unique blend of meticulous attention to detail and artistic sensibility to everything she creates.
Her latest work with fanci.club showcases masterful craftsmanship, effortlessly blending lightness with a captivating "punctum" edge, as if the essence of photography itself were brought to life.
D: First of all, hello! Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and the trajectory that brought you to where you are today?
A: Hi and thanks for having me! I would like to start by mentioning my mother, who has been the primary influence on my creative career. After studying art, she held various unique creative positions. She worked as a wax sculptor for communion candles, a doll maker at a renowned porcelain manufactory (porcelain dolls were a significant trend in the 90s), and as a porcelain painter at Nymphenburg.
Growing up surrounded by creativity had a profound impact on my career, although I always knew that I wasn't an artist myself.
I pursued communication design at the University of Applied Design in Schwäbisch Gmünd, which has a lineage tracing back to the Bauhaus university. There, I learned all about the principle of "form follows function." To add a contrast to my Bauhaus-inspired education, I spent several semesters abroad in Venice, assisting at the art biennale.
Art has always been a great source of inspiration for me. Fashion entered the picture in my professional career when I joined the high-fashion retailer Mytheresa as a graphic designer and later had the opportunity to work in art direction and conception for their fashion shoots. I've worked for magazines like Refinery 29 from NYC, I Love You magazine, and Noah/Interview magazine from Berlin. Additionally, I've worked as a creative director in creative agencies specializing in fashion and lifestyle. I also co-founded my own creative agency called "Forgetmenot."
Since 2022, I have been working independently under my own name.
D: As a creative director, there's a strong emphasis in discovering next move for a project or a brand. How do you immerse yourself in the lore of a brand, understand their intention, and move them forward to the right path? Would you say there's a specific way to proceed?
A: It is crucial to listen to and engage with the brand, paying attention to every detail. There is no one-size-fits-all formula that can be applied universally; you always approach each project with a fresh perspective. That's why I value building long-term relationships with brands. Over time, you can make changes and improvements that go beyond a single campaign. I thrive on pushing brands outside of their comfort zones and continuously testing the limits. It also involves a great deal of psychology, as understanding and addressing the clients' concerns is essential. Another integral aspect of creative direction is art buying. Once the direction and strategy have been established with the brand, the next step is to assemble the right team (photographer, casting directors, stylists, producers, etc.) for the project's execution.
D: What are your biggest inspirations, both inside and outside the fashion world?
A: I can be inspired anytime, anywhere.
I have a deep appreciation for the delicate balance between beauty and ugliness, as well as what may seem "wrong." It is often within the realms of friction and irritation that true beauty emerges.
These intriguing contrasts can be found both within and outside the fashion world. Our chosen location for the FANCI shoot is a good example as it was so odd, perfectly embodying this balance between beauty and ugliness. It is situated in Bali and is called "Rich Prada Hotel." At first glance, it appeared completely abandoned, yet it was still operating. The rooms were adorned with luxurious carpets and exquisite materials such as marble. However, upon closer inspection, signs of mild dust and water damage became apparent throughout. I became utterly fascinated by this hotel, and it was from this fascination that the idea for "Hotel FANCI" was born.
D: What is your approach to the way new technologies stimulate the fashion world? How do you manage to keep up with all the trends and visual languages that emerge every day?
A: Currently, AI is assisting me both visually and editorially in creating moodboards. However, I don't immediately embrace every trend that comes along.
For the Balmain x Mattel project, we collaborated with professionals who are at the forefront of the 3D world to create CGI Barbies.
I'm not afraid of new technologies because I understand that I don't need to master everything myself. Instead, I focus on staying aware of the latest trends and knowing which specific collaborators are the right fit for each project.
At the moment, I'm working on a Christmas campaign for a luxury retailer in collaboration with a well-known collage artist. While "collage" is a traditional method, we are taking it to a completely digital level by incorporating CGI elements and chrome fonts to elevate the overall aesthetic.
D: Can you share the strangest thing you have had to experience during a photoshoot or in your career?
A: What happens on set stays on set ;)
D: Lastly, what are your plans for the day? What do you hope to accomplish today?
A: I need to buy a fan for my apartment!! I recently moved from Berlin to Paris, and today the temperature is over 30 degrees, but in my apartment, it feels like 40... making it hard to work on this Christmas campaign.