Ukrainian twins Tanya and Zhenya Posternak are the minds behind cult accessory brand Mansur Gavriel's colorful campaign images. The 27-year old sisters moved to New York City three years ago, and in no time have left a visual fingerprint on the city with their photos plastered on every scaffolding in Soho. Their love of close-ups (known as the "Posternak crop") and pastels, and their unique sense of humor have made a now-signature aesthetic recognizable almost anywhere—but especially on social media. With a combined 50,000 followers on Instagram, they must be doing something right. Their secrets? Side boob, the Lower East Side, and Soviet throwbacks.
New York City.
When did you start taking photos professionally and what inspired you to first pick up a camera?
Zhenya: About five years ago. Our grandfather used to take pictures of pretty things and pretty human beings with his old Zenit. We grew up with him developing films at the dark room (a bathroom in reality).
How do you work together? Are you on set at the same time? Do you share cameras?
Tanya: We work as a team, but a pretty chaotic one. We share the set, most of the time, but rarely cameras and hardly ever the opinions about a frame and an angle. It's an unusual marriage, but it works.
What are the differences in your images/aesthetics?
Tanya: We both have a thing for color, textures, and architecture. Zhenya tends to be more bold and ironic, I am all about nuances. Zhenya is a guru of captions, and I am a better spy.
You both seem to like a very particular aesthetic with lots of close-ups and color. What is this inspired by? Are you conscious of it becoming your own “brand” of sorts?
Zhenya: We both intuitively find beauty in its weirdest manifestation. Our friends often joke about the "Posternak crop." T. and I tend to zoom when making videos and crop the images in an unusual way. We are deeply moved by human imperfections, whether it be a birthmark or facial hair. With our photography we aim to get closer both to the subject and the viewer. Frankly, we don’t follow any brand’s guidelines other than curiosity for all things beautiful and woolly.
Tanya: It is very natural. We admire colors and textures, human bodies and human faces, buildings, hands, flora and fauna, and we cannot help but document all of it.
Photographers you admire:
Edward Weston, Jamie Hawkesworth, and Lina Scheynius.
Mansur Gavriel street posters.
When did you first start working with Mansur Gavriel? Why do you connect with the brand so well?
Zhenya: We met Rachel [Mansur] and Floriana [Gavriel] a few years ago through a mutual friend. We became friends, did a couple projects later and eventually started working together. There was a match, indeed. We got to know the people first, and the sense of the brand came naturally after. To us, the product is so strong that it dictated the concept: all things clean, graphic, bold, and vibrant. We are lucky — there's a lot of artistic freedom, respect, and inspiration in this collaboration.
What was it like shooting Hari Nef for the latest campaign? What were you going for?
Hari is walking charisma and we got very excited to work with her. It’s interesting how such a strong personality can look both vulnerable and fearless. We keep our shoots very natural and this wasn’t an exception. Add great sense of humor and Beyoncé on repeat.
Why is developing an Instagram aesthetic so important for fashion brands? Do you think it could ever eclipse the runway show?
Zhenya: Instagram somehow democratizes fashion by making it more accessible and personal in a way. It offers a bigger picture for a wider audience. It’s a growing force, but cyber will never replace real life, hopefully. Shows must go on.
Clothes you borrow from each other’s closets:
Tanya: No sharing policy.
Favorite shows from the past season:
Tanya: Jil Sander, Celine, and Marni.
No filter or filter?
Social media pet peeve:
Zhenya: Hashtags, smoothies, and all things Kardashian.
One thing you would never post:
Zhenya: Latte art.
Greatest hits on Instagram:
Side boobs, Chinatown divas, and childhood photos from Soviet.
How do you unplug?
Tanya: Salty waters and sandy surfaces.
Zhenya: Basic stuff helps: books, sea, and hammocks.