Nika Mamanova: Rassvet & Russia

Nika Mamanova
Image: Nika Mamanova

Gosha Rubchinskiy, 90’s Russian youth culture, the Establishment, Moscow and London energy. Just a few of the inspirations that form the backstory of new youth culture magazine, Rassvet. Rassvet is created by Nika Mamanova, the fresh faced 22 year old who grew up in Riga, the capital of Latvia reading Russian literature.

At 15, Nika had a self-described hardcore fashion blog called ‘fakenika’ which started her foray into fashion journalism. At 18, she moved to London to study fashion journalism at Epsom because of the creative energy in London. And at 21, she launched Rassvet. Now 22 (although she keeps telling everyone she is still 21 – ‘I don’t really like the sound of 22 much’), Nika is preparing a crowdfunding campaign to get Rassvet into print and all over London.

At her local Starbucks in Clapham Junction, on a bone chillingly cold day, Nika with her perfect scattering of freckles and bookish glasses tells us more about Rassvet over a venti caramel latte and a few cigarettes with cute swan printed rolling papers.

The Fashion Conversation: Can you tell us a bit more about your inspiration for Rassvet?
Nike Mamanova: Gosha Rubchinskiy was my starting point. I am really obsessed with him because I love his design. His work is all about eastern Europe, and a rough part of Russia. Rubchinskiy also focusses a lot on the 90’s Russia, and I was born in the 90’s. Rassvet is all about underground youth Russian culture, about sick talented people who are on the cusp of emerging. So for me, I feel the magazine is about all of the people who are part of my family in a way.

TFC: What attracted you to Gosha Rubchinskiy’s work?
NM: I love Gosha’s work because it’s all about my generation, it’s all new and all really rough yet really simple. His work is also really sophisticated for me in a way, because he speaks about the Russian culture in a really straightforward way. Fashion for me is not just garments and fabrics put together, it goes further than that. I love that it is all about ideas and has so much to do with the economy and politics, which is crazy. The generations before us had a different establishment, there were born and grew up in the Soviet Union era under Stalin. The Soviet Union collapsed before I was born and so my generation have grown up in a totally different atmosphere.

Nika Mamanova
Image: Nika Mamanova

TFC: Why did you choose Russian youth culture?
NM: I felt that there were so many talented creatives in Russia, and that the way Russia is portrayed in London is bullshit. So I wanted to kind of delve into the subject, and show people in London and western Europe that Russia has cool people, who are friendly and have something to say. I can also see a place in the market for a magazine that focuses on the creative Russian youth culture. SHOWstudio are exploring this topic at the moment a little too.

TFC: You travelled to Moscow as part of your research for Rassvet, tell us more.
NM: I spent about four weeks in Moscow over two trips as part of producing Rassvet. The first time I went there I meet a few people and explored, discovering different parts of the city. The second time I did all of the interviews for the magazine (in Russian and then translated them into English) and some photoshoots. They were really fun and stressful trips. I would like to live in Moscow for a bit, it also has a sick energy.

TFC: How do you think of Rassvet?
NM: Russet [the dawn] is a dialogue of unusual and creative heroes, that truly have something to say. Rassvet is about a new wave of up-and-coming talents that are somehow connected to Russia. In an age of endless consumption and high-flown pretence, sometimes it is a challenge to find people who are honest and have a soul. But they do exist and this publication is exactly about them.

Nika Mamanova
Image: Nika Mamanova

TFC: What’s the future of Rassvet?
NM: I have done a limited print run, just 20 copies. I am planning on running a crowdfunding campaign, which will be challenging, to raise enough money to print enough copies for distribution. I was talking to Alexandra Gordienko, founder of Marfa Journal who is doing really well – she is working with Terry Richardson and has recently shot Lana Del Rey, and she was saying her plan was to do five issues of her magazine and then it just sort of disappears. I really like that idea, it kind of becomes more of a collectors item.

TFC: And who has been lucky to receive a printed copy already?
NM: Oh just David Sim and Caroline Issa.