Spotlight: Olga Vilshenko
Russian born designer Olga Vilshenko received an early education in fashion watching her mother, who created beautiful one-of-a-kind garments for her family to avoid the austere shapes found in the stores under the communist regime; inspired by her commitment to create ‘beauty within restraint’ Vilshenko realised her eponymous label to embody her eastern heritage with rich folkloric prints and intricate embroidery alongside Western couture techniques. The result; a distinctively modern, luxury label with a traditional folkloric twist, we turn the spotlight on Olga to find out more…
How was Vilshenko born?
For as long as I can remember, I have adored Eastern European folk costumes, the beautiful colours and craftsmanship. After graduating in London, I experimented with styles but having an eye for Eastern Heritage I had to follow this path. I started Vilshenko back in 2010 when there were only 5 of us in a very small office in Soho. It feels like a lifetime ago!
Who or what inspires you the most?
I start with a mood board, pulling imagery from everywhere – films, paintings, photographs and prints to best convey my mood for the future collection. My inspiration could come from vintage accessories, music, architecture, Russian patterns and crafts etc. Often, I find beautiful vintage pieces that give me a start to sketch and sometimes sketches start with the fabric in mind.
How much has your style evolved since starting Vilshenko?
Though the years I have definitely developed my own sense of style and confidence that can be instantly recognised. Being very passionate and a perfectionist in my work I don’t stop searching for new ideas, shapes and techniques that can be implemented into my designs.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s ever given you?
My mother always told me: “Listen to your heart and work hard.”
This is the second year you’ve collaborated with artist Lindsay Carr, how did you meet and what inspired you to look for an artist to collaborate with?
I actually came across Lindsey’s works online and found them truly magical. I immediately wrote to her and luckily the feeling was mutual. It was so exciting to see her work come alive printed and embroidered within our collection.
What are your favourite pieces from this collection?
The A-line skirt with embroidered poppies and the cape with Lindsey Carr’s sleeping fox are definitely my winter picks!
Who would you love to dress? / Who is your favourite person to wear Vilshenko?
I don’t design for any one woman in particular. I design for myself, my friends and colleagues, women I see on the streets. Women are many things all at once and with active positions in the modern world, I believe they still want to feel feminine and elegant. Being a mother of 3 too, I know how important it is to feel comfortable in your clothes.
How does your travel inspire your collections?
I am definitely inspired when travelling but often I see it from the point of view of a woman packing for a 2 week family trip and the tough decisions about what to pack. This is why I make my dresses elegant yet functional to effortlessly take you from a day to night look. I of course also sort out the local flea markets, art fares and Museums when travelling too.
If your best friend were to describe you in three words what would they be?
Hardworking and passionate about my business but most importantly my role as a mother to my three children!
What makes you most excited about the future?
The introduction of exciting new technologies.