A Cultural Mash-Up at Bergdorf Goodman

What differentiates Ms. Kazakova is that she applies her handiwork to the sportswear and fast fashion hawked on the streets of her neighborhood. She is not the only designer to have hit on the idea of embellishing everyday fashion, but she has powerful patrons: Puma, which provided the apparel and shoes for Ms. Kazakova to customize and rework; and Bergdorf Goodman, whose men’s fashion director, Bruce Pask, fell in love with her work and shepherded her into the store.

“The clothing was something I had never seen before,” Mr. Pask said. “The craftsmanship, the expansive vision — it was truly moving. I’m going to sound like a sap, but it really brought me to tears.”

Earlier this year, Ms. Kazakova was one of the finalists for the LVMH Prize. She presented her collection to a panel of the company’s top designers — Karl Lagerfeld, Phoebe Philo and Maria Grazia Chiuri among them. But she is still in her fledgling years, working out of a studio at the RestorationArt center as an artist in residence. She said she was hoping to train neighborhood residents as craftspeople and collaborators.

Photo

Some of Jahnkoy’s hand-stitched Pumas.

Credit
Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

There is, admittedly, the slight jar of Ms. Kazakova, who is white, at the center of an almost exclusively African-American grouping, especially at a time when appropriation is a freighted subject in fashion (and beyond). But she dismissed that idea.

“These are the people who surround me,” she said. “They come from different backgrounds. We create something based off all of our different knowledge.”

Globalization and diaspora, in any case, mean that, despite their great differences, there are also points of connection and overlap between Ms. Kazakova and the dancers, musicians and artists she surrounds herself with.

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