Fashion designer, author, hostess of TV broadcasts and workshops.
From 1991 to 2004, she led Favore Fashion House as Art Director, designing haute couture collections that were shown internationally with great acclaim in locations such as: Citadel, Jerusalem, 1998; Welsh Parliament, 2000; Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, 2001; Fashion Week Propeller, Sydney, 2003; Yusupovsky Palace, Saint Petersburg, 2005, Regent Hall, Oxford Street, London, 2016.
The Bible Story told through the language of high fashion.
This is the gallery of «Olive Tree in the Garden of God» fashion collection by Aleona Isakova. Through this beautiful hand made dresses people can see story of creation of the world, beatitudes, birth of Christ, His resurrection and all the rest.
I AM A CHRISTIAN AND I AM A FASHION DESIGNER.
The story I’m going to share with you was so amazing that at times I ask myself if it really has happened to me. And, I feel I can’t keep this adventure to myself any longer. When God entered my life, I understood there is nothing impossible with Him. I let my heart dream and He set me on a wonderful journey that will never end.
One day God touched me in an amazing way. My husband (the pastor of a new congregation) and I went to Moscow for a conference. There, during a sermon, I experienced an awesome vision of the entire Bible story, starting from the creation of the World to the birth of Christ; His Crucifixion and Resurrection shown in dresses of heavenly beauty and harmony. I was so overwhelmed by the vision, that I was standing motionless. The vision of amazing beauty seemed to overlap with the reality and became even more real.
The Holy Spirit testified to my heart of my mission to Glorify the Lord through high fashion and I trusted Him and the vision that was burning in my heart. I had never seen fabrics of such beauty. So what was I supposed to do?
I only had watercolors and brushes and in 30 days I drew all the sketches of what I had seen in the vision. God's presence was so overwhelming that my face was continually wet with tears because the power of His love was so strong.
I shared my Dream with my best friend, Larissa Babaeva. One day when we were sitting on the bank of the Volga River and praying, we decided to set up a fashion company, “The Paradise” for the Glory of God. We were twenty-five years old, new Christians in a collapsing country. We started out with a loan of $300 for the registration of a new company. We, like fools, went to register our company on the day of the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt, also known as the August Putsch or August Coup. The Russian people didn’t sleep for three days and nights and there we were, going to the Town Hall to register “The Paradise.” We looked crazy, but we were trusting God.
All these years, my dear friend, Larissa has been God’s gift and blessing for me. She hasn’t only been supporting me but also helping other people to get along with my unbearable temper. With her patience, faith and compassion she made all of us God’s united team and I really doubt if we could have achieved anything at all without her.
I wondered why God chose us – people who had been so far away from the high fashion industry and living in the poor Russian city of Tver. We had neither business connections nor education sufficient for creating a collection of Haute Couture. It was year of 1991. Was it possible to dream about high fashion in the country where weaving factories were closing due to the absence of raw materials and where even buying a button was a problem? But, we firmly believed that God had called us to glorify His name through high fashion and did everything we could and expecting His miracle to happen.
I set up a school where lovely young girls studied the Bible and learned to walk on the catwalk. The gifted choreographer, Svetlana Alan, started training the girls, teaching them to move with incredible grace and dignity. The certificates the young ladies received had a quote from the Bible: “…let not your adornment be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (I Peter 3:3-4)
At that time in Russia, when even food wasn’t available in the store, we were able to find white silk (only) and I painted it the colors we needed. So, our first collections were made of hand painted silk! We spent all our profit, from selling the clothes we had created, to buying more silk.
Our big dream was always bigger than our life and we cannot do that by our flesh. We need God for that. Many Christians have big dreams from the Holy Spirit. They hear God's calling. And they wait…
But God is watching their steps. He wants to see us walk by our faith.
When we make our small steps, He will make His big step!
We need to have a faith and we must to be brave.
When we managed to buy only white silk at a silk-producing factory, we created the collection “White clothes.” It was demonstrated at a contest with young fashion designers in Moscow. We were performing at the end of the show as we represented a guest collection. Despite the fact we only had eight dresses in our collection, it made a deep impression.
When our young girls were walking on the stage, other fashion designers, who had already produced their collections, started crying. The Holy Spirit was touching hearts. It was amazing. We were performing to the music of the song “The Heavenly City.” The people were impressed, not only by music or the dresses, but the most important thing was God's presence, which everyone on the show could feel. Prior to our show, there was a performance on stage, where a bride with a loop on her neck, was made up to look like a dead body. What a contrast it was! At the end of show a representative from a well-known fashion magazine in England, said: “I liked all designs shown tonight but for my own wedding I would order a wedding dress by the “Haven” Company. That was a victory!
This way even the most modest of our collections glorified God’s Name. Our performances were shown on TV by major channels and millions of people heard my testimony about God’s love and beauty. We got mail from all over Russia in which people were sharing how they were moved by the message of God’s beauty. We kept praying and believing God. His vision had come true!
In 1994 we had a show at the Christian Businessmen’s Conference in Moscow. The Christian Business magazine wrote: Our show was “a prophetic vision of Heavenly clothes in which God will dress us one day!”
During the intermission of our show, I noticed a gentleman who was speaking French. I ran up to him saying that I was praying for revival in France and handed him my business card. He was surprised (as it appeared later he was Swiss) and accepted the card.
Three months later we got a fax from the man, Leonard Betex. He wrote “I don’t know who you are but I have your business card and God has already been speaking to me about you for the last three months. We must meet. I am inviting you to China.”
In China, God’s people, from different countries, gathered at Beijing’s Sheraton; a pastor from an underground church in Beijing, a minister from South Korea and a Christian from UNESCO. After we prayed, Leonard said “God has put it on my heart to help you. What am I supposed to do?”
We had believed in God’s miracle and had been waiting for that moment for many years. And when it finally came, it felt so easy and natural as if there had not been all those tears and doubts, as if we had not had to wait all those years. God was smiling at us from Heaven. I gave Leonard my sketches of fashion collections and said; “God wants us to do this but we don’t know how.” “Where are the best fabrics produced?” asked Leonard. “I think in France, in Lyon” I said. He replied, “Well, then we are going to Lyons.”
It was like a dream. We were living between Saône and Rhône. In the morning at breakfast we enjoyed the view of the Spring Mountains. Then, we would go to the most famous Lyons’s factories that were producing fabrics for high fashion. They have been creating their collections for 300-400 years and the collections are really the best fabrics in the world!
We shared about God’s love with the people we met and used my sketches as illustrations of Bible stories. God touched hearts – they were managers and owners of the oldest and most famous fabric-producing factories in the world! A lady in one of the show rooms in Paris, a real lioness from the world of haute couture, started crying when we showed her the sketches. God touched her heart right there in Champs-Élysées and she was feeling God’s presence and didn’t understand what was happening to her.
God loves people. He came to the world for each and every person and He is ready to speak our language to us even if it is the language of fashion, colors, lines, the language of beauty and harmony.
TO JESUS’S FEET
The first show of the collection took place in Jerusalem in 1998. We had a few shows at a Christian festival where the best Christian singers and dancers took part. Thousands of Christians from different countries from all over the World were rejoicing after seeing our show.
Hundreds of Jews received the Gospel of Jesus after coming to see the show.
Everything was absolutely fantastic but we knew it was not everything that God had in His plans for us.
There is a special place in Jerusalem. The Jews say it’s the most beautiful place in the world. That is the place where stones testify about the Son of the Lord. There is a big fortress at Jaffa Gate in the Old City – the Citadel. It’s like a layer cake where history and culture of Jerusalem have been built for three thousand years layer after layer. Israel’s bohemia, high society and people of arts treat the Citadel with a special trepidation. But for Christians the place is special because there Jesus was standing before Herod and was being mocked.
“Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus, for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. And he questioned Him at some length, but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. And Herod, with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate.” (Luke 23:8-11)
God wanted us to glorify Jesus in the very place where he was mocked and before the descendants of the people who saw Christ’s disgrace! I prayed: “Dear Lord God, what are we? Our hearts are not circumcised, we are full of doubts and some of us are even non-believers… Do you really want to use us, who are so imperfect for such a great labor? I’m a person with an impure mouth and I live among people with impure mouths.” Even now writing this, I can’t hold back tears. “Dear Lord God, how good You are that You don’t look upon us like sinners as we are but You take us and purify us with Your blood and the hot flame of Your Love. Send me. Here I am. I’m not worthy, but if You send me, I’ll go wherever You want me to.”
And we did go. God made the show take place in the Citadel. He put a desire in the heart of a general, a hero of the six-day war, to organize the presentation of our collection for Israel’s high society, leaders of nation, over three hundred people. Preaching Gospel is forbidden in Israel. Moreover, we were not allowed to speak about Christ. But nobody can forbid the Holy Spirit to testify about Jesus. The Holy Spirit Himself was speaking about Jesus during the show. The models’ faces were sanctified with such an anointing that you couldn’t help laughing and crying at the same time. And people were crying. Some people stood up from their seats and continued watching the show standing. One woman came back stage several times and kept saying, “Jerusalem has never seen anything like this” while her eyes were shining like stars. I do know God made His changes in the hearts of the people present there that night. We couldn’t see the fruit immediately as we are not reapers. God poured His elixir of life on the dry land.
The collection was created in four years. The best fabrics were chosen to glorify the name of Jesus. Skilled tailors and embroiders spent hundreds and hundreds of hours of laborious work to make a single dress. The cost of making the collection took about a $500,000. When the collection was ready, a French specialist of haute couture saw it and said: it was ‘obviously the last collection created, according to all standards of high fashion, with the use of such a great quality of highly-professional manual labor and only the best most expensive exclusive French fabrics.’ She said that even now, the leading fashion designers of the world who can afford to make a few dresses of such fabrics in their collection but are not able to make fifty-six like we did!
And all that was accomplished for a single purpose – to glorify the Lord before all nations. Not for sale, not for commercial, not for human glory. For Him only!
Today I think how amazing it was that Jesus was glorified and named the King of Kings through the dresses of light made by simple Russian women in the place where He was mocked at and took disgrace from the Jewish King and aristocracy. It was our privilege and His mercy on us.
COME NOW BECAUSE IT’S TIME TO WORSHIP
When arrived home, I didn’t know what to do further. Amazingly, all the dresses were in a complete order even after photo-sessions in Caesarea and in the Garden of Gethsemane, which was kindly opened to us by Franciscan monks.
The next show took place in the Capital of Wales Cardiff in 2000. Later there was a new collection created based on the Song of Songs of Solomon. More shows took place in Australia (Sydney).
We had a show in Russia, in our city Tver and the Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow), in the Yusupov Palace (St. Petersburg) and some other places. Everywhere the Holy Spirit was touching hearts and Jesus was glorified!
I dream that one day we will be able to glorify the Lord with a big show in Washington DC. I keep the collection safe in my new home in the USA and I dream about shows in Los Angeles, Paris and Beijing. I am dreaming about a museum with all of our dresses; with photos drawings which will tell all the Bible Stories through High Fashion and about a dream I have of a College of Art and fashion based on Bible foundations, which will raise up a new generation of artists and designers who are using their own talents for God’s Glory.
I believe that God wants to use Art and Fashion to show His beauty and his Love, so that people who do not know Him can find Him and give Him all the Glory!