Inna Zobova. Creating art with heart

Inna Zobova, WonderBra Ambassador

Inna Zobova, WonderBra Ambassador

Since launching into the world of fashion as the global ambassador of WonderBra, Inna Zobova has fronted campaigns for Hermes, Roberto Cavalli, Valentino, Dior, and YSL, among others. She has collaborated with esteemed photographers such as Ellen Von Unwerth, Mario Testino, Satoshi Saikusa, Paolo Roversi, Raymond Meier, and Marc Hispard, as well as being lensed for countless magazine covers internationally.

Always exploring new avenues, Inna has now gracefully segued into the next phase of her life, being the founder and designer of INNANGELO, a collection of stunning silk scarves, kaftans and pareos. We spoke to Inna about her career in fashion, artistic collaborations, and philanthropy.

LM: You have worked with so many talented people in the fashion business. Please share some of your experiences.

IZ: I was very fortunate to be a press show model for many legendary (nowadays) designers. There as Yves Saint Laurent, Christian  Lacroix, Valentino, Alexander McQueen, Armani, Marc Jacobs, Nicolas Ghuesquère, Viviene Westwood, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Kenzo,  Valentin Udashkin, Oscar de la Renta, Michael Kors, Betsey Johnson, Givenchy, Balman, Thierry Mugler, Nina Ricci, Elie Saab, and many more.

Every one of them is an exceptional designer with great talent and style, and about every one of them, I can for talk hours, but now let me tell you about my passion for Maison Valentino and Maestro Valentino Garavani.  Maison Valentino was and still is one of the most glamorous and desirable for all models. We, (models)  all desired to work for them and wear Valentino's creation.  He made all the women looking amazingly beautiful and sexy. I remember the Haute Couture shows - the makeup, the hair, and the casting of models. All were stunning! One day, my agent called and told me to go to the Hotel Ritz in Paris. I knew it was challenging to impress the designer and to get the show, but I was already doing Haute Couture shows, so I felt confident. In the most glamorous Parisian Palace, I met one of the most handsome men I have ever seen - the partner of Maestro Valentino, (Gian Carlo Giammetti). He accompanied me to the ateliers, where I was measured from head to toe, and the head of the atelier said to Mr. GCG - "she is an excellent model." It was the first step inside this house of fashion dreams. For the casting, Mr. Valentino saw his models in total show-ready look. I went to hair and makeup, and only after this, I was given a « smoking » (tuxedo) in the famous Valentino red color! I  came into the grand luxury ballroom with four huge windows, where Mr. Valentino was sitting surrounded by his dogs. While I was walking, one of the dogs ran and laid down right in front of me. I finished my catwalk as if nothing has happened while staying elegant and trying avoiding the dog! Two days later, I received a confirmation from the fashion house of Valentino, and from there, I was happily doing their campaign and fashion shows for about four great years.

Thanks, Universe for this fantastic experience!

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LM: You recently launched INNANGELO. Can you tell us about the brand?

IZ: In parallel to my career as a model, I developed personal work based on painting and photography. Two years ago, I began thinking about showing my work… and [decided] to create a project that brings together my passions for contemporary art and fashion - this is how INNANGELO was born. It is a label of scarves and luxury accessories to fit my image: free, instinctive, iconoclast. Together with my husband, director Bruno Aveillan, I decided to create a label where the highest quality of craftsmanship would blend with avant-garde creation. 

INNANGELO is, therefore, a creative platform for my work. However, it is also an open "silk gallery" regularly inviting prestigious artists to unleash their creativity on rare materials of the highest quality. For instance, for our first collection, Richard Texier (one of the few contemporary artists to whom an entire issue of the magazine Art Press is dedicated), created a 100 pieces limited edition of three scarves named "ECLIPTICA," "UMBRA TERRA" and "THEORIA SACRA." Mircea Cantor (Marcel Duchamp Prize, 2011), whose work is part of significant museum collections including New York's MoMA and Center Beaubourg in Paris, created an original series of 3 scarves named "YOU FIRE ROPE ME."

LM: Who is the INNANGELO woman, and what is her philosophy with regards to style?

IZ: The woman of INNANGELO is a multi-cultural, multi-racial, free, intuitive, bold, irreverent individual. What I first notice when I look at someone, and what is far more critical than fashion from my point of view, is style. Whether innate or cultivated, it is the absolute mark of elegance. The accessory that comes in complement - or rupture - is an essential element in my approach to fashion. Depending on your mood and your look, the same scarf can make you rebellious or avant-garde, or add an irresistible spark of chic. Accessories are what creates style.

Image courtesy of Inna Zobova

Image courtesy of Inna Zobova

LM: Where do you find inspiration and what is your working process like?

IZ: I seek inspiration everywhere; in travels, meetings, nature, light, clothes, reading books, in the smile of my son, or doing nothing (very beneficial for me in a hectic world). I can also get started on a scent, a perfume. I have a mainly developed olfactory sense. Though I spend a lot of time there, my process of creation is fluid and permanent. I tend to begin with the tactile, perhaps drawing, but also selecting organic elements such as flowers, bark, leaves, pieces of metal. I have a pretty surrealist collection :-) Sometimes I collect items that look like nothing, but are incredibly surprising from a different angle. Recently during a trip to the Maldives, I collected multi-colored crab shells that I photographed and recomposed. The result is quite stunning. I then continue to work with a technique I developed, from scans of my drawings, paintings, and photographs.

Image courtesy of Inna Zobova

Image courtesy of Inna Zobova

LM: What does the future hold for you as a designer, and the brand?

AP: We were proud to launch the first collection of INNANGELO at Colette in Paris. We had a full window display showcasing INNANGELO at the famous 213 rue Saint-Honoré, and the first collection is sold out. Most of our scarves are limited series. Thus far, we have the pleasure of counting prestigious personalities such as Leonardo Di Caprio and Alicia Keys, Beth Ditto, Monica Bellucci, and Mylen Farmer among our first clients. We are blessed to be loved by the artist, and we appreciate their support very much!

Since April 2019 our works is available at Bergdorf Goodman, and this is the first time we have crossed the Atlantic. I feel like we just have started our development and we still have a long road in front of us. I create modern kaftans, tunics, dresses, and scarves. I particularly like the fluidity of « Crepe de Chine.» I used it to make my model "Les Ailes" (« The Wings »). It is an original, spectacular design, all in pleats and transparency, midway between an haute couture dress and a scarf. Every breath of wind, ever so slight, envelops you in a magical sculpture of fabrics, in constant evolution. The sensation is enchanting. And it's incredibly photogenic. 

The fashion business has evolved over the last 30 years from collections of small-to-medium-sized private business into an industry dominated by publicity traded, multi-billion-dollar conglomerates. At INNANGELO, we understand this and look forward to engaging with industry leaders to make our company grow.

This year, after PFW and during FIAC week ( International Modern Art Fair ) in Grand Palais, INNANGELO will present a scarf from our Artist N3. We will keep the secret of who is our next Artist, but we are very proud of this up coming collaboration. I can only reveal that it’s a female Artist. If you would like to know more, please follow our official @INNANGELO Instagram.

LM: You collaborate with many not-for-profits on projects, notably The Heart Fund. Can you give us some insight into this work?

IZ: I was born with a heart defect and had life-saving open-heart surgery at the age of 6. Since the first meeting with Dr. David Luu in 2012, I have supported The Heart Fund, a non-profit organization that saves the lives of children suffering from heart disease, especially in developing countries. I always endeavor to help this organization that is very dear to my heart and for whom I am Ambassador. Thus, a percentage of the profits of INNANGELO is donated to The Heart Fund.

Inna and Peter Lindbergh, beyond the scenes for The Heart Fund awareness campaign.

Inna and Peter Lindbergh, beyond the scenes for The Heart Fund awareness campaign.

Interview by Linda Mateljan