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Perfect NumberCourtesy of Perfect Number

Perfect Number is redefining what it means to be an LA-based fashion label

Founded earlier this year by filmmaker Yana Sosnovskaya and partners, the new brand is dedicated to bringing its unique message to the fashion industry

Los Angeles is going through a bit of a cultural transformation right now – particularly from a fashion perspective. Thanks to labels like No Sesso and BornxRaised, now more than ever the underground creative scene in LA is focused on pushing political messages that fight for diversity and equality, and stand against gentrification and commercialisation.

A breakout name on the scene is newly launched label Perfect Number – co-founded and led by Moscow-born creative Yana Sosnovskaya. After working as a filmmaker for a number of years, Sosnovskaya turned her attention to the world of fashion as a way of exploring what femininity means in today’s society. 

Despite being based in LA, aesthetically Perfect Number couldn’t be further than what you’d initially imagine. “When you say ‘Los Angeles’ people tend to think nude colours, Venice beach, holding a matcha latte, solar lamps, crystals,” the creative lead explains. “We’re embracing that for sure, but that’s not the future of Los Angeles or its aesthetics.” The debut collection features utilitarian materials cut in ‘feminine’ silhouettes, while sequinned tops and sheer t-shirts are loose and boxier. 

Evolving beyond being a traditional fashion label, Sosnovskaya approaches Perfect Number as a cultural platform, recently seen via an interactive installation at fashion and arts festival Reference Berlin. Guests were invited to mould the giant clay cyborg statue as they wished (yes, there was a penis at one point). “We just wanted to see how people would react to the human body and whether it would give them freedom,” Sosnovskaya explains. “It was interesting that once you allow people to be creative as a group, they come up with much better results.” 

In addition to looking at femininity through tangible clothing as imagined by head designer Nicola Morgan, Perfect Number also has an online platform – entitled PN Mag – that explores the concept of femininity via articles and essays. “We’re putting out there that femininity can be embraced by all genders, all types of people,” she concludes. 

Here, we speak with Sosnovskaya about launching Perfect Number and why LA is the next cultural capital for upcoming creatives. 

You grew up in Moscow, what was your background there and what brought you to LA? 

Yana Sosnovskaya: I have nothing to do with fashion originally, all my background is in filmmaking. I used to be a producer, cinematographer, and filmmaker and I was always involved in moving image and being behind the camera – never in front. 

Growing up in Moscow was one of the most beautiful things to happen to me, especially during the late 00s and early 2010s. Moscow was at its peak of rising, progressive-thinking people and culture. It was a moment when everyone was charmed and fascinated by the spirit of freedom and it had the potential of becoming a cultural capital like Berlin or London. It felt like a place to belong, but then it changed and we decided to move. I was in San Francisco first and they don’t really appreciate creatives. I started driving to LA on the weekends and spent a lot of time there, so decided to move.  

What made you want to move into fashion? 

Yana Sosnovskaya: I like to think that I didn’t choose the project, it chose me. I was always interested in fashion as an amateur and my friends would ask me to style them. My mum would ask me for advice too, which I know is funny, but she took it seriously! 

On the other hand, I was pissed off with the unfair treatment of women and men in society, especially coming from a very patriarchal and conservative country like Russia. I was constantly asking why women are constantly treated unfairly. Why I kept on hearing that because I'm a woman, I should just get married instead of pursuing a career. Coming to the States and seeing how open and strong women are here, I was completely blown away and fashion seemed the perfect direction to go in because fashion has become very political now. 

“The name is a small prank. It’s a response to the digital era we’re in and how everyone’s so obsessed with perfection. Can we please stop this race for perfection and just exist as we are?” – Yana Sosnovskaya 

What does the name Perfect Number mean? 

Yana Sosnovskaya: The name is a small prank, because irony is one of the core values of Perfect Number. It’s a response to the digital era we’re in and how everyone’s so obsessed with perfection. ‘Perfect number’ is a mathematical term and with that we wanted to say that only numbers are perfect. Can we please stop this race for perfection and just exist as we are? 

What was the process for starting Perfect Number?

Yana Sosnovskaya: We didn’t want Perfect Number to be a traditional fashion brand; in fact, we don’t even call ourselves a clothing brand. Perfect Number is a cultural platform and creative collective.

The most challenging part of starting Perfect Number was not having experience in the industry, so it was important to have a mentor. We were lucky enough to have one, British designer David Koma, and he really helped a lot during the first year. He was so patient, explaining how things work, how to set up the team and the basics of how things work. We met through mutual friends and I’m so grateful he joined me on this journey. 

How does your background in film help approach Perfect Number from a holistic point of view? 

Yana Sosnovskaya: I’ve been working on films for more than ten years, so it’s something I can’t take out of my brain. My eye works in a way that understands proportions, colour, etc. My visual perception of the world is a certain way, and clothes fit into that as tangible products. With the label’s visuals, we’re trying to create a story that is relevant and speaks to people. It’s exactly the same with visual communication on social media or via magazines. 

“I didn’t want Perfect Number to be a traditional fashion brand; in fact, we don’t even call ourselves a clothing brand, Perfect Number is a cultural platform” – Yana Sosnovskaya 

What was your design process for the debut collection? How did you go about bringing in motifs and signatures for Perfect Number? 

Yana Sosnovskaya: The process was really interesting and David challenged us a lot because he works with very contoured, body-conscious silhouettes and I come from a completely different perspective. Our goal is to keep exploring fluidity and try to reflect what is actually happening with femininity in society right now. 

I think each collection will be completely different, but it’s very important that we combine both masculine and feminine qualities within the brand. I want to explore that 360° through the collections. Another part of the design process is examining what it means to be in Los Angeles in 2019. For the next collection, we did a bit of shopping at a vintage warehouse and we’re going to be applying some techniques to them for our take on traditional Los Angeles fabrics. 

What was the concept behind the campaign? How did it further help communicate the Perfect Number ethos? 

Yana Sosnovskaya: It was our ironic response to the fashion industry. When we first started working on the campaign, everyone kept telling us we needed to have a ‘proper’ campaign with the model showcasing the clothes. So, we wanted to do that but ironically. The model does stand there and show the clothes, but it’s also a message about objectifying women and how women are put under pressure by being watched so closely. 

The campaign is called ‘Woman on Pedestal’ and it was such a great honour and joy for us to work with Adesuwa on it. She’s bold, super authentic, and knows what she stands for, so it was great working with her. On the website, the campaign has text to go with the images, in the form of a theatrical play. The visitors are speaking and discussing an art object/woman and trying to guess what she’s thinking about. It goes back to how I feel society treats women, because nobody is actually asking us how we feel. All these thoughts get put in our minds, but nobody ever asks how we feel. 

As well as the clothing side of Perfect Number, you also have the online platform PN Mag – what was the decision behind that? 

Yana Sosnovskaya: It was a very natural decision and idea. Once we decided to do a tangible product, we knew we had to support it with media, because it's a great way to stay in dialogue and communicate with the community. 

Los Angeles is really lacking in independent media, which was pretty good luck for us since we took that spot. It's difficult for me to answer that question because I feel like media is very natural response if you want to be in touch with your community and be a platform for conversations.

How do you hope to continue growing Perfect Number? 

Yana Sosnovskaya: We have an idea of going offline, not in terms of sales, but communication. We want to host a few offline events in Los Angeles because it’s the best way to meet people, explore new mediums, and collaborate with musicians and artists.

In general, our goal is to explore the community of like-minded people here and to create a platform that supports and unites them. We’re really excited about the next collection because it has a very strong message that is relatable to a lot of people. I’m not going to reveal anything now, but we’re dropping it in September and I’m really looking forward to it.