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Success in the 21st century is living a healthy lifestyle with no cigarettes and alcohol.

Success in the 21st century is living a healthy lifestyle with no cigarettes and alcohol.

A cup of coffee interview with Belarus fashion icon Apti Eziev.

I’m meeting Apti in one of the most trendy places in Minsk Sovobody 4. It is impossible not to notice someone with so much charisma. I happily join him at his table where he is already sat drinking a cup of tea. 

Olga Canneberges:  Hi Apti, How are you? What drinks do you prefer?

Apti Eziev: I prefer milkshakes and non-alcoholic mulled wine.

Olga Сanneberges: Then I will be happy to share one with you today.

 While my drink is coming we begin a conversation. 

Olga Canneberges: May I ask why did you decide to become a designer?

Apti Eziev:  Firstly, I didn’t want to become a designer. Each day is a combination of circumstances. Some of them depend on you and some do not. I came from Russia to Minsk when I was 6. Once a coach from the local Tennis Academy came to school. It used to be common when teachers from different social clubs went to schools and offered their services. He said he was a tennis coach and that on a certain day we could go to a trial workout. So, I went with my mother to the Tennis Academy. At that time it seemed difficult to achieve what the coach wanted, but I managed to do it. It was 1996. But, unfortunately, my parents didn’t have any money. When we heard what the price of the sports uniform and a racket was, this idea had to be postponed. After 2-3 years, in the yard where we lived, someone set up an iron table tennis table. We trained with those guys a lot and I went back to tennis. After that I was professionally engaged in it. In the 11th form, I needed to get a good year's assessment in physical education so that I could enter the Academy of Physical Education. I behaved badly at school - smashing windows with a volleyball, for example. The coach gave me an ultimatum - if I succeeded in the relay race, he would give me a nine... otherwise, an eight. I jumped over an iron stick, knocked it down and landed on it. As a result, I had a displaced fracture of my right playing hand. It was Monday. On Wednesday I had to apply for my master of sports. It was a real tragedy for me. Afterwards, I passed entrance tests with low scores which were high enough for the university I wanted to apply for. I came to the admission committee which asked me about my qualification book. It was at my coach’s place and he was in Belgrade at that moment. The committee didn’t allow me to bring it later. I didn’t want to go home and visited an acquaintance. She asked me what I wanted to do in life aside from tennis. I said that I enjoyed keeping an eye on appearance.
We got into the car and she took me to a college for drawing courses. So I went and drew for 2 weeks. 
I wanted to work with clothes and it was a shoe design college. That’s why I dropped out of the courses and applied for sewing courses at R. Luxembourg. This is how it all began.

Olga Canneberges:: I guess it was your destiny to become a designer. What do you think about Western designers?

Apti Eziev: I think too little about other people and it’s a problem

Olga Canneberges: What do you think is the difference between Western designers and Eastern European ones? 

Apti Eziev: Western designers  are closer to fabrics. That’s the difference. Nobody is better or worse. Each has their own style. There is such a stereotype that CIS designers copy Western designers. I think the opposite -  that many people in the west imitate us.

Olga Canneberges: What is your main area of design?

Apti Eziev: I design everything except underwear and shoes. I do not create underwear for ethical reasons. 

Olga Canneberges: You mentioned in Instagram that you don’t drink alcohol. Is it true?

Apti Eziev: I’m 28 and I haven’t even tasted sweets or chocolates with liquor inside. I smoked cigarettes when we moved here for a month when I was six.
Olga Canneberges: I saw your photo in a magazine. Do you also work as a model? 

Apti Eziev:  I wouldn’t call it “work”. I would say it is mutual care and support. I do not consider myself a model, it’s  an assistance to colleagues from other fields of activity. For example, the jewelry stores “Ziko-Zorka” are my good friends. Their directors are my clients and I took part in their marketing campaign. I cooperated with Belavia as well.

Olga Canneberges: If you were offered a model contract, would you agree?

Apti Eziev:  Absolutely not.

Olga Canneberges: Have you ever thought about working in the Western Market?

Apti Eziev: Why not? I get a lot of orders from Europe. People begin to realize that what I am doing is really good.  I’m responsible for the quality of my clothes. I do everything manually and nothing can be torn. These are clothes that last and can be worn for a long period of time. Probably because I'm responsible for the quality I don’t launch my clothes to the mass market. I can’t be responsible for 100 seamstresses who sew what I want but not how I want. That’s why I work alone and don’t hire anyone. 

Olga Canneberges: Have you ever participated in Western fashion shows?

Apti Eziev: In 2011, we participated in a fashion show in Galeries Lafayette in Berlin.   Mainly we participate in fashion shows in Russia. 

Olga Canneberges: Would you like to participate in fashion shows in Paris, New York, London?

Apti Eziev: I have been offered a lot of projects abroad.But I've never been a traitor. I will explain what I mean:
I have a team of models which I assembled in 2013. It consists of 30 models and we all participate in each fashion show together. I was offered to participate in a fashion show in New York. The problem is that despite our opportunities, we can’t get visas for everyone. It doesn’t only depend on us and our desires.
To participate in a fashion show with unfamiliar models from the USA is not an option. Such fashion shows are soulless. The highlight of ours is our artistic team spirit We are a family. If one is out, the mechanism stops working. In April, we participated in fashion shows in Moscow. One girl from the team moved to live in Paris. We tried to get her to Moscow but we didn’t manage. I felt that something was missing. We do everything together; the show is a little story that lasts 20 minutes with an audience of 4000 people.

Olga Canneberges: It means you have firm principles and perform only with your team. It is much easier to get visas in Europe, isn’t it?

Apti Eziev: Yes, it is. We cooperated with the French embassy and a French group which is responsible for cultural events in Belarus  and were participating in a project with French couturier Denis Durand.  Also, we held a dress exhibition in Mir castle and I designed handbags for his dresses. We planned to pay a return visit and participate in a fashion show in the framework of the Cannes festival. But for very tragic reasons it didn’t happen (a girl responsible for this project in Minsk died).

Olga Canneberges: It is a very sad story. Can you share your failures and difficulties that you have faced in your career?

Apti Eziev: First of all, it’s not common for people of my nationality (I am Chechen) to design clothes. Chechens are associated with horses, mountains, fights and shashlik. And it’s difficult for them to perceive what I do. There were threats against me and a lot of other unpleasant remarks. After I earned some recognition, they started singing a different tune.

Olga Canneberges: Can you highlight your success so far?

Apti Eziev: In my opinion, success in the 21st century is  living a healthy lifestyle with no cigarettes and alcohol.

Olga Canneberges : What advice would you give  to like-minded people?

Apti Eziev: In life you should make a declaration of love not to fabrics, clothes and technical devices. You should make a love confession to people. Don’t chase money. If you do something from all your heart, everything will   turn out well. I love my mother very much and I like helping people. I believe that good deeds lead me to success. Be kind and honest. The rest will take care of itself.

Contact me to be interviewed via . To look and order Apti Eziev collection pieces connect through

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