On why she became a designer:
In order to understand fully my choices and decisions concerning the career path, one needs to have a better understanding of the time and the place I was born and raised.
I was growing up in a socialist state where it has been expected from every member of the society to be useful – we were encouraged to choose those professions that were valuable for the society. I remember back then all my friends ‘wanted’ to become teachers, pilots, scientists, doctors, cosmonauts. I don’t remember anyone in my surroundings to say ‘I want to be a fashion designer’. Somehow being a fashion designer hasn’t been thought of as ‘useful’ or ‘serious’ enough.
So a question of linking up my life with fashion professionally hasn’t been a question at all: it was expected of me to complete a ‘serious’ degree and to become someone ‘valuable’ to the society. And yes, I’ve gained a ‘serious’ degree, then another one. And even though I liked my chosen career path somewhere deep inside me there was a tiny flame of hope that one day I would do something that is much closer to my heart than what I was currently doing.
Regardless of the time or the circumstances women of all ages, or skin colour, or origins want to look beautiful. Even more so during hard times as these always raise an instinctive desire for authenticity. So, in the times when the shelves of Soviet shops were practically devoid of anything remotely beautiful, women had to be inventive and innovative to make something out of the thin air, to look pretty and be different. Hence nearly every woman from where I came from was skilled in one or more crafts. My granny, for example, knitted incredibly well while her sister’s embroidery skill was legendary and people from her neighbourhood would come to have a look at her embroidered shirts. Our neighbouring tailor from down the street had a queue for the next hundreds of years and would have never gone out of business (laughter). So possessing a craft hasn’t been considered as anything special, if anything it was expected from a woman.
My mum has been a seamstress so I was quite spoiled as to how I was dressed up. So I have realised pretty early in life that dressing up is fun and definitely sets you apart from everyone else around you. And I still think this is the case (smile). Coco Chanel had a point when she said ‘Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.’
What is your favourite part about being a fashion designer?
I think being able to bring a bit of a beauty into this world, being able to see in ordinary rolls of fabric something that others may not see at first and then bring this vision into reality. I love seeing how the magic unfolds: how a piece of material becomes something that brings a smile to others, something that others look and touch and wear happily.
What were your inspirations for the designs you created for the shoot?
I get inspired by so many things that it is always very difficult to pinpoint what exactly has been an inspiration/tipping point for a particular design. Among the usual sources of inspiration – books, theatre plays, movies, architecture (London is absolutely amazing in that department!), people – I get inspired by fabrics. I can spend hours in fabric shops just looking at hundreds of fabric rolls, admiring various colours and patterns, touching and enjoying the assorted textures. It is usually after such trips that ideas about looks come to me.
How did you select the materials you used?
There are quite a few great shops in London where one can find fabrics that grab his fantasy and sweeps off his feet. Joel and Son, just off Edgware Rod, is just such a place. I call it ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ : I am yet to meet someone who will be left untouched by such a variety of materials gathered under one roof from every possible corner of the world.
I also know and work with fabric manufacturers so sourcing the fabric is not an issue. And if someone wants to create a particular design or pattern for something special this is also can be arranged, whether it is an image of your favourite doggy or a painting of a child. Everything is possible in a world of fashion.
What was it like working with fashion bloggers and other known faces?
I enjoy working with people. Full stop. Whether they are fashion bloggers or ‘other known faces’ or just ‘faces’. I enjoy that we are all so very different and have such different perceptions of what is beautiful. I find it truly inspiring. Every time when I meet someone new I am curious whether they (personally) would like the clothes they will be modelling or whether for them it is just ‘another day in the office’. And I can honestly say I’ve been blessed (or lucky (laughter)) that everybody has commented on how great my designs are. I am a strong believer that garments should be not only beautiful but also well crafted, should wear well and be practical.
Your favourite shoot so far?
Oh, a bit tricky and unfair question (laughter). I am aware that it might sound cheesy but I liked them all! As I’ve mentioned earlier I enjoy working with diverse personalities: it is always fun to meet someone new and see how they ‘own’ a garment and how they work it in front of the camera. It is quite funny how Yana and I started to refer to an item by the person’s name that wore it in the shoot, for example, we have ‘Yinsey’s jacket’ or ‘Nika’s dress’ (laughter).
Do you have a specific research process when you start a new collection?
I don’t as such. I have hundreds of various drawings and then when I feel that I am ready for a collection, I think of an organisational theme and put aside the sketches that I see as relevant to that particular idea. If I feel that the amount of the material is insufficient I simply keep drawing (smile).
What kind of feedback did you get on the collection?
So far I have been blessed, or lucky, or both! (laughter): I had amazingly encouraging comments and, if anything, it spurs me to work even harder. Complacency is a dangerous thing and an incredible luxury and should be avoided at any cost.
You studied fashion in? Did you started your fashion brand straight after getting a degree?
I have never studied fashion; do not have any formal fashion education and/or degree. Sometimes I feel a bit left out from the usual crowd graduating from well known places. But my heart is firmly in what I do; I have a vision and an enormous desire to succeed in this field so I will just keep doing what I simply love doing.
Your future plans?
Keep working, keep creating, keep making women look beautiful, keep meeting interesting people.
For you fashion is?
To keep growing at a manageable pace. For me – it is all about quality, not quantity.
Here are two outfits which are designed by Olga herself.
Styled by : Yana
Photographs by : Yana and Paul Morris studio