Aigana Gali blends art and fashion to create limited-edition bespoke pieces.
Words by Cally Squires
Aigana Gali's brand creates pieces of bespoke art on the back, quite literally, of luxury coats.
Art Couture's Kinnerton Street home is a place to meet clients and work on ideas rather than being a shop. And it's by appointment only.
She keeps a studio for the more messy paint work just off Kensington High Street.
Plus she has another more pristine one in Dulwich where she works only on the garment painting.
Unhappy teenage model
Even as a little girl in Kazakhstan, Aigana was drawn to making things and being creative with fabric.
This was a trait she learnt from her mother.
She never wanted to be a model, but won a huge contest aged just 15, and “signed the contract and moved to Paris pretty much in a couple of weeks”.
It wasn’t a happy experience, but the offer was too big to reject at the time, although the former fashionista does regret the decision looking back.
“It was a completely different environment and for me as a 15 year old it was really painful.
“Many of my friends from that time were fine and they stayed and worked, but I came back after three and a half years,” she says.
Although the experience didn’t lead her down the path of the fashion world, it “developed me in the direction of beautiful things”.
This love of beauty, combined with a passion for precious fabrics, led to the idea of creating a collection of clothes as a canvas for wearable art.
Aigana describes the process of creating a bespoke piece in collaboration with a client almost as a spiritual experience.
“I become a translator of someone’s deeper ideas and symbols. It’s always a beautiful journey.”
She says there is a feeling you can help someone.
“I never had this ambition originally to help people, I was only a painter,” she says.
Aigana points out that the coats are quite bold themselves, so the wearer has to be quite brave too.
“In this situation you don’t have a mask to hide behind. You have your own symbols and your life on your back,” she says.
“You celebrate who you are in a very bold way.”
Handpainting and mythology
For a client opting for a bespoke piece there are 20 different cuts in different sizes to choose from, plus a choice of fabric.
Fabrics are always cashmere, canvas, linen or wool and lined with silk. Aigana searches for leftovers from big brands like Chanel and Valentino.
Prices start between £1,800 to £3,500.
The main technique is handpainting with a lot of gold leaf, embroidery and crystals.
“I paint with dye so the pigment is deep in the fabric, so the coats are fine in the rain and with dry cleaning.”
Mythology is a source of inspiration for Aigana, who describes one of her coats.
“It starts with a little bird on top because you always have a little dream ready to fly away from your head.
“Then the snake is a symbol of wisdom. So although you’re a dreamer you have to be wise enough to serve this world.
“The golden lines are a manifestation of energy, almost like a meditation. The wings are a symbol of the ability and bravery to fly away with an idea.
“The leaves symbolise shooting new beginnings. And standing on the fish means not to forget that you are standing on the slippery surface of reality.”
By appointment only at 83 Kinnerton Street.