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Elena Ladik

Slow Fashion from the Fergana Valley

Elena Ladik has always had a fondness for the sartorial. Perhaps this is because, growing up in post-war Ukraine, fashionable clothing was inaccessible, and as the youngest child in her family, she could only dream of owning anything new. Regional Museum, one of the oldest museums in Uzbekistan, which is dedicated to preserving As a young woman, Elena went on to study in Saint Petersburg, Russia, obtaining a degree from the Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. After graduating she spent years working in the art department of the Fergana the history, culture, and art of the Fergana Valley—an ethnically diverse region that spreads across eastern Uzbekistan, southern Kyrgyzstan, and northern Tajikistan. It was in this position that she developed a particular interest in the rich cultural heritage and national costumes of the Uzbek people.

She began collecting vintage fabrics. Elena says her personal stock grew so large she could have started her own textile museum, but instead she decided to follow a new creative direction as a fashion designer. For the past 15 years, Elena has worked with a team of like-minded artisans to develop a style that combines historical details and techniques with contemporary preferences. She says, “We [don’t] recreate historical clothing in its original form, but we [are] guided by the modern lifestyle and tastes of people who [want] artistic outfits.”

Elena prefers working with high-quality, handwoven Uzbek silk, cotton and adras (a silk and cotton blend), and vintage fabrics she purchases from village markets, which are then dyed with natural and aniline dyes. Embellishments feature embroidery, ropes made of cotton yarns, beads, buttons, and natural stones. The resulting creations are distinctive and functional collages of rich materials in unexpected combinations of colors and patterns that speak to the cultural history of Uzbekistan and its influences over time.