My Flying Grandmother

The starting point for this collection was a photo of my
grandmother. I grew up in Sweden but my mom is Russian/Ukrainian from Yekaterinbourg in Russia. I wanted to make my collection about the women in my family who’s strength and spirit I have always admired. I began by researching family photos, and I found this photo to the right of my grandmother in military soviet parachuting gear. She was a parachutist in her youth. The concept “My flying grandmother” can be a literal representation of her but it is also about freedom in a different sense.

Both my mother and grandmother have lived in a dictatorship that to me sounds like the absolute absence of freedom, yet both have such free outlooks on life and ways of creating own freedom. My family history is quite heavy and the Soviet era is not something we speak of with ease. However, I see a lot of beauty in the lives of these women who raised me. Through this collection a want to bring to light the beauty I see in their stories.

Because of her parachuting background and general shortage they have both worn and reused old military surplus. The pairing with floral dresses and nightgowns that even I grew up wearing is something I wanted to build my collection around. I have an image in my head from seeing my grandmother putting on granddads military parka over a floral nightgown to go to the garden which is a juxtaposition I wanted to replicate in this collection.

I researched further into soviet military garments along
with my family photos to inform construction and details while merging the two. This research and concept got unexpectedly very difficult emotionally
in February when the war broke out and I suddenly was watching the difficult history the collection starting to repeat itself. I almost decided to change the concept because I didn’t know how the speak about it anymore, but I decided to continue while putting more of my feelings Into it. After this point the collection developed to be darker and I decided to add elements to show how I feel about the situation which will be further explained later. I see the collection as my testimony on what has happened to my family and why it is devastating to see it happen again and that is my thesis statement

Fabric Manipulation

«To Soviet Women, Honor and Love»

When I found a soviet propaganda poster depicting three generations of soviet women with this slogan I knew I needed to incorporate it. I wasn’t comfortable just using it as it was. Trying to merge it with the florals I came to develop this manipulation that is a combination of printing and pleating. The effect is only fully visible in motion. The first prototypes I pleated myself but in the end I have been working with the pleating atelier Maison Lognon. Below you can see my process from paper to fabric to final garments. 


“For footwear I used crampons which mine and many other russian grandmothers use in the winter not to slip. I combined them with a combat boot sole to create the silhouette of a balerina slipper which is another of my grandmothers staples. “

During soviet times a way my mother found freedom was through hiking and exploring. Due to shortage her and her friends made windbreakers and other outdoor garments from surplus parachutes. This inspired my inclusion of windbreakers into the collection which I draped with the nightgown as a starting point.

Marina Tsvetaeva

Dis-tances: miles, versts...
We’re dis-severed, dis-persed,
They’ve rendered us silent, terse,
At the far ends of the earth.

Distances: tracts, versts...
We’re disjointed, and disbursed,
Displayed, splayed, un-destroyed,
They don’t know we’re... an alloy

Of inspirations, and tendons,
Not disjoined — though dis-joined,
We’re divided...
By ditch and wall,
Disconnected, conspiratorial

Eagles: tracts, versts...
Not disunited — oh, no worse
Than disengaged, in the wastes
Of earth, like orphans displaced.

How many, how many days... of March?
Since they scattered us like a pack of cards?

Translated by A. S. Kline
In the second half of my process the situation suddenly changed. My gradmother is from russia and my grandfather is from Ukraine. When russia started war against Ukraine my thesis suddenly felt different.

On the first day I recieved a handwritten letter as a photo from my grandmother in russia. This is why I decided to include fake care-labels into my garments with handwritten text on them. I wanted to draw a parallel to the censorship my relatives have described and are now experienceing again.

During soviet, forbidden anti-regime literature was secretly distributed and spread. The point of the labels isn’t to be visible but that they are a secret way if spreading information. In the end I chose to print a poem by my grandmothers favorite poet MarinaTsvetaeva. Tsvetaevas poetry was often anti the regime which is why I chose her work. The poem Dis-tance felt very relevant to now. Both because the war has created distance between me and grandma who I don’t know when I can see again, but also because it has tried to divide my grandparents just like so many other families.

The labels don’t change the collection much but it is my way to express my criticism against the war and the more and more totalitarian rulership in russia.