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Welcome to the jungle: Belarusian designer Anne Zabelina finds a magical oasis in Minsk

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Anne Zabelina’s collections are vibrant, storied and always playful. For a recent fashion shoot, produced together with photographer Masha Svyatogor and stylist Yana Bodyak, the young Belarusian designer took a walk on the wild side, presenting her garments against a backdrop of creatures great and small. “The name of the collection, Unprecedented Beast Come to Me, determined the choice of the location. Without even knowing it, an 86 year-old-street artist named Anatoly became our set designer. He created a real art object, an Animal Kingdom, in one of the capital's courtyards. And we managed to sneak in. We did not have to invent anything, just go to a fabulous courtyard and take the shoot!,” she describes. Though the theme takes its inspiration from the bold, mythical paintings of 20th Century Ukrainian artist Maria Primachenko, the shoot owes much to the designer’s childhood memories. Zabelina is originally from Brest and until last year studied at the State Technological University in the northern city of Vitebsk. The fact that the collection was shot in a quintessential Belarus location makes it feel all the more personal. Evoking the childhood pastime of dressing up and pretending to be someone wholly new, the photographs also play on the association of Minsk as a city built on and still caught up in a utopian fantasy. Talking about her own dreams of breaking out into the fashion world, the designer reveals: “No matter how conservative or still seemingly "Soviet" Belarus may seem, its history has left a mark on my practice. In this way, Belarus will forever be a home for my brand. I don’t know for how long I’m going to stay here but the brand will always be Belarusian.”

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