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Freelancers in fashion during coronavirus crisis: The set designer

By Ole Spötter


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It is not only freelancers, who are usually in the spotlight, who feel the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis; those "behind the scenes" are also affected.

FashionUnited asked several individual entrepreneurs from the fashion industry - from a safe distance, of course - what the current situation looks like for them and how they deal with it. Having already interviewed the model and the stylist, today's focus shifts to the set.

image: Behind the scenes of the last production before the coronavirus

Installations made of alienated everyday objects and the construction of entire stage sets are among the tasks of set designers such as Marina Melentieva.

The Berliner studied stage and costume design in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Today, the 28-year-old art director is represented by the Swedish agency Mau/Mau Collective and conceives visions of style and fashion editorials as well as campaigns. She has already worked with magazines such as Zeit Magazin, Highsnobiety and Sleek, as well as with the furniture store chain Ikea and the accessory and leather goods label Montblanc.

Picture: L'Officiel Ukraine by Marina Melentieva, FabianaVardaro and Caroline Fayette

Melentieva uses the lack of jobs to take a deep breath and revel in the memories of the previous year, when self-isolation had not yet influenced her social life.

How is the current coronavirus situation for you?

To be honest, I have been longing for a long time to jump off this fast train and just cancel all jobs for a month and 'live'. But the train was emergency braked and the decision was taken from me.

image: Gravity & Nostalgia by Marina Melentieva and Denis Koval

What does your everyday life look like at the moment?

Actually as usual, except that the public cultural program such as exhibitions, museums and theaters are now off. And no, I don't want to watch it virtually on my laptop or mobile phone, that's not nearly as good. After three weeks of isolation, I slowly miss the physical closeness to my friends and random eye contact with other people.

Coincidentally, I had accepted an order from a wonderful jewellery label a week before, which I am currently photographing alone on my roof in good daylight.

image: Behind the scenes of roof production

How busy are you with the future right now?

I think it's quite nice that you can't plan anything right now, or rather have to plan anything. It gives me such a paradoxical feeling of freedom in this confined situation.

Are you aware of any support measures for freelancers in the current economic situation? Do you feel well informed or rather a little helpless?

The subsidy program for Berlin freelancers seems to work quickly and well. There is also the possibility for freelancers to apply to the IBB for a coronavirus grant.

What is your current favorite distraction?

Every day in my photo app on my mobile phone to see what I did exactly one year ago: Where I was and who I was with. Nostalgia is an important feeling for me. I also like to spend time at the Facetimelunch with my grandma in Moscow.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.DE, translated and edited.

To find out more about the impacts of Covid-19 linked to the fashion sector, visit our dedicated page.
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Picture: Sorbet Magazine (Performance Issue) by Marina Melentieva and Caroline Fayette

Marina Melentieva