Twin sisters Ekaterina and Elena Popovy have been causing a furor in the fashion doll scene since 2004. Using only hand sketches and their creative ambition, the duo utilizes and impressive range of talents to bring their visions to life in each unique project and collection they put out. From fashion design to hair and makeup - from photography to the printing process, the Popovy Sisters are among a shrinking group artists who can quite literally do it all.
Gearing up to collaborate with internationally known brands and artists such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Retna, the Popovy sisters are entering a new and exciting phase of their career. Pushing their fine art photography, The TAX Collection was lucky enough to be able team up with the extraordinary duo to spotlight their recent work, as well as releasing eleven prints exclusive to The TAX Collection. You can read our interview with them below and shop their newest available prints.
Out of all your many talents, what’s your preferred (or favorite) medium to express yourself and you work? How did you come into working that way?
Our main talent is our creative intuition. We feel relevance and fashion trends. Our intuition is closely related to observation, it's been with us since our birth, we have been like this since childhood. Perhaps this is the main talent, to be able to see and choose the idea that’ll strike the most.
What comes to you more naturally, photography or the craftsmanship that goes into creating the dolls? Which came first?
For us, photography is an integral part of the process of creating our doll collections. The photo allows us to reveal and emphasize the idea - expressively show the doll. But to take pictures, of course we must first make the doll. So we can not say what's more important, just these two processes are natural and inextricably linked, and the process of creating a doll simply goes first.
While there are many aspects to your work that make it so extraordinary, there’s a definitely a feeling of grace attributed to the dolls and the way you present them in portraits - it’s very human. How does that process work? - of taking a rough concept and transforming it into something that’s something that’s incredibly emotional and can even tell a story?
The process of doll creation is so natural, with one stage smoothly flowing into another. Each doll requires a certain amount of time and attention.
We are constantly looking for new images and ideas, in an attempt to express our concept of beauty. Our protagonist is a female child with her own not-so perfect traits with a childlike sincerity who does not try to hide or fake her emotions.
We try to bring our thoughts and ideas to the viewer through the image in the doll. For us the doll and the costume are something integral - one emotion, one character. We don’t treat clothing as a separate thing. For us, it’s like the second skin for the doll - the shell. We are looking for complex expressive solutions, often we transfer the beauty of animals and objects to the female image.
All work on the doll is performed exclusively by us two manually - no one is helping or assisting us. This is a long and very complicated process. We hand sculpt doll prototypes, using special tools and materials. NO computer or 3d technology is involved. We use airbrush and hand painting with acrylic paints for makeup. We create wigs and costumes ourselves after our own designs and sketches. We use top end limited edition and rare antique materials, so all outfits are limited edition. We develop our own techniques for wig and outfit creation, and we keep them in secret. No one else can do what we do. We always sketch. collage and work on new ideas and collections
The most difficult part is to embody the idea from the sketch into life, so that everything turned out as planned. Sew, braid or invent the texture in full accordance with the sketch. Photography is an important final stage of the work, it’s very exciting and intriguing, it is always very interesting for us to shoot the dolls. Each doll requires a certain filing in the frame, sometimes it seems that the doll itself prompts ideas and compositions, because it is all strongly connected. When we review the photos, we see how good we managed to bring our ideas to life and that is sometimes.
We can easily turn a photo shoot into a kind of fashion story, and the dolls into the object of desire.
When the doll is ready, photographed and already standing in her booth, we want to sometimes approach her and look at her, she is drawing our attention, it's strange, because during the whole working process we have enough time to look at her and play with.
Could either of you see yourselves working in the fashion industry, creating and photographing your own design? What most attracts you to the micro scale of working with dolls and doll fashion?
We make dolls to wear them, make them wigs, makeup and all the accompanying attributes. We can’t stop and deal only with the creation of a doll as a sculpture or the stylization of the human body. And vice versa, we like to create clothes for the specific image, the presence of the image is necessary, it is always associated with clothing.
Yes, we could work in the fashion industry, we think we would easily fit in. Sometimes we even imagine doing some work for a fashion house someday.
Do you think fans of you work will ever be able to see your designs on full-sized models?
We think that this will happen in the near future. We want to release a clothing line, or individual items - our "Bestellers" made in human size for people. Now we are developing jewelry line for a new dolls collection, maybe in the future we’ll make it for people.
As artists, what makes you excited about your work?
The embodiment of new and new ideas, the creation of new images.
Do you think where grew up has affected, at all, your visions as artists?
Undoubtedly influenced. The place where we grew up and the time is very important. We grew up at an amazing time and with amazing people, in a wonderful family, during certain events in the world. All this has been very influential for us.
Growing up, what were your dreams as children?
Lot of things, but one of the biggest dreams - to be together and work together, to do our favorite thing together, so that no circumstances or events could separate us.
What has become most important to you at this moment in your life?
When we made our first author's collection "Fashion MOON", it made a real furor and finally determined us the style and our niche in the art of dolls. We realized then that we had found our identity and style.
Is there any specific moment(s) or memory in your life that pushed you definitively towards the arts or to pursue your creative ambitions?
As children, we used to draw dolls for ourselves – it was girls with fox heads. We were very fond of them playing and drawing a lot of clothes and images for them.
When we graduated the high school, we were very much taken by the hobby of riding, so much that we even thought to go to the masters of equestrian sport. But then we got carried away by interesting personalities, actors, musicians and began to do a lot of sketching of people with different interesting charismatic facial expressions- we think at that moment our passion to art overcome everything else, and we entered the academy for fashion designers.
Who or what would you say is your biggest inspiration(s) and how do you think they / it have influenced your works?
Our greatest inspiration is the life that passes through us, our emotional experience. We see, hear, feel, experience different emotions every day. We are inspired by everything - fashion, art, history, painting, photography, music and, of course, people. We look at this world with eyes wide open. Our dolls are our vision of the world, our emotions and ideas are screwed into shape.
What is your definition of ‘art’, even if it’s total bullshit?
Art is the expression of an idea. Therefore, shit can also carry a certain idea, although the idea can be complete shit.