PERFECT NUMBER: Meet Fashion's Next Disruptor

The term "disruptor" has been frequently used by fashion media in recent times; up to its paroxysm, in fact. And let's face it: the use and abuse of this word for marketing purposes can be quite annoying. Can a designer or a brand really be considered "disruptive" if their creative philosophy is solely based on the appropriation of established fashion industry codes, instead of actually inventing new ones? This is precisely the question that Yana Sosnovskaya, co-founder of the brand PERFECT NUMBER, asks herself – and answers through PERFECT NUMBER’s first campaign; a fashion campaign that is truly disruptive, for once.

PERFECT NUMBER, Woman on a Pedestal, Photo: Courtesy of PR.

Sosnovskaya is part of a Los Angeles-based collective of designers, whose aim is to propose a new perspective on today's womenswear, like a "remedy to fast-fashion culture," as the collective put it themselves. Led by Nicola Morgan, who previously worked as a designer for Givenchy, Lanvin, and Mugler, PERFECT NUMBER has extended its collaborative practices by tapping London-based designer David Koma as their first collaborator on their inaugural collection.

Woman on a Pedestal, their first campaign, is modeled by Adesuwa Aighewi, styled by Marc Goehring, and shot by Thomas Lohr in Los Angeles. Produced and handmade in Downtown L.A, their inaugural collection named PN06 features upgraded body-conscious basics; with prices ranging between US$75 for entry-level pieces to US$595 for more sophisticated pieces.

PERFECT NUMBER’s first European event – an experimental installation that invited guests to interact with a woman’s sculpture – took place on May 18th in Berlin, on the occasion of the inaugural edition of Mumi Haiati’s Reference Berlin Festival – a multi-faceted 24-hour-long event that offered a wild mix of art, fashion, new technologies, and experimental installations empowered by the Berlin-based communication and consulting agency Reference Studios. We met with Yana Sosnovskaya on this occasion, and discussed PERFECT NUMBER's take on culture, gender, politics, and fashion – and what it takes to translate the complex relationship of these terms into one coherent fashion collection.

PERFECT NUMBER, Woman on a Pedestal, Photo: Courtesy of PR.

Can you tell us more about Woman on A Pedestal and why you chose Adesuwa for this first campaign?

First of all, we absolutely love Adesuwa because, in our perception, she represents the new generation of women: she is bold, she is genuine, she’s confident and fearless, and most of all, she really cares about people and social aspects, which is why we were so much inspired by her.

Our brand is questioning how the nature of femininity is currently shifting and how the perception of beauty is changing. So, we came up with this idea of creating a campaign that would simulate an art gallery – a place where a woman is an actual piece of art, surrounded by people who look at her and make comments about her. It is basically a reflection on the constant objectification of women, and how people look at a woman, how they label her, how they talk about her and objectify her. How they try to predict what she’s thinking about.

Can your campaign be viewed as a form of protest against the social pressure and inequalities that women are still experiencing today?

We feel that, with all these social issues, women are under a microscope. We feel a lot of pressure to justify our every action, to define what it means to be a woman today. And sometimes, as a woman, you don’t want to meet all these expectations; you simply want to be yourself. Which is why, at the end of the campaign, Adesuwa is very self-contained and confident and makes a statement by walking away from her pedestal, from this situation.

PERFECT NUMBER, Woman on a Pedestal, Photo: Courtesy of PR.

What is the idea behind the “Is she a cyborg or a goddess?” experimental installation that you showcased at Reference Berlin?

We were very much inspired by Donna Haraway’s take on cyberfeminism. There’s a quote where she says, “I’d rather be a cyborg than a goddess.” We wanted to refer to this idea of women being cyborgs, which is why we’ve created this adaptable feminine statue made out of plasticine and put it on a pedestal. People can actually interact with the statue: with its shape and structure, they can actually change the way she looks. Our message with this installation is “Please do touch the art, and do whatever you want with that.” In a way, it allows us to do a social experiment and see how people interact with art, with a woman’s body, what their expectations are like, what kind of labels they will put on her. As people will interact with the sculpture, something new will come out of it – a new shape and thus a new meaning. In a way, this is also very inspiring for women, because we feel that we can create something positive and creative that comes out of all these expectations and labels that are put onto us.

PERFECT NUMBER, Woman on a Pedestal, Photo: Courtesy of PR.

How do you translate this social and artistic manifesto into actual women’s clothes?

First of all, we are very much trying to disrupt the standards of the Los Angeles garment industry: our design team, led by Nicola Morgan, is sitting together with our manufacturers and training them personally, to make sure that the high-quality standards required by the luxury industry are met. We also want to reflect our local community and identity, which is why we work with various Los Angeles-based fabric suppliers that provide us with locally sourced fabrics, such as vintage military fabrics from the 70s, for example. And we are also very strict about our pricing: going further we want to go lower, to make sure our collections are affordably priced. We are aware that high quality craftsmanship requires a certain financial investment, but at the same time we don’t identify with this idea of inaccessible, exclusive fashion. Fashion has to be affordable by most people, otherwise it doesn’t make sense to us. In terms of translating our take on femininity into fashion, our idea is not to define femininity, but to keep on exploring its different facets and realities together with our community. That is what is most important to us.

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