Designer Kzeniya Oudenot’s made quite a name for herself by creating Hollywood’s most wanted bags and clutches, carried by celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kat Graham and many others.
Before creating her own label in 2010, Oudenot studied at the prestigious Saint Martin’s College in London worked for Alexander McQueen, Royal Opera House and Scottish Ballet. Her work has been showcased at the Science Museum London, the Science Gallery in Dublin and various galleries in London and Paris. Now Kzeniya London, which mixes cutting edge design with luxury materials and experimental printing techniques, is about to take the fashion world by storm.
We are more than thrilled to have a chat with Oudenot herself as she presents her new Spring/Summer 2013 collection and reveals what it takes to become a successful designer nowadays.
How did your passion for design start?
I always had this big dream. There was not much fashion around me where I was growing up. The only glimpse into the glamorous world was a TV programme about fashion. I used to record it and watch it time after time until I memorised every detail. I started drawing fashion illustrations and accessories while I was still in school. My room was full of designs, every day after school I would come home and just draw all evening and night. My friends and family supported me because they all saw how passionate I was. Then I sent all these works to St. Martins and got in without any exams.
You’ve been winning awards since 2008. At which point did you concretely realise you were going to be a successful designer?
Once in London and at St. Martins this is really when I understood that I could make it. Working for Alexander McQueen was an essential stage in my career. That’s when I saw what it took to become a successful designer and the constant need and pressure to maintain a high quality level. Once I started my brand I never really had problems to create pieces, the reviews were always positive, I started to win awards and gain recognition.
You have gone from fashion graduate to international sensation. How did this process take place?
Lots of hard work and some serious soul searching! I did a lot of experimentation with styles, materials until I found my own ‘language’. When I started to have a very good feedback, I knew it was the right direction, so I just continued developing and working on that chosen path. It was also important to find the right manufacturers and suppliers.
What was the event that pushed your career to the next level?
Many Hollywood stars started carrying my bags, magazines started featuring my brand and retailers became interested once I found the right price-design-quality combination.
The real breakthrough came when J-Lo was spotted with one of my clutches on the cover of Grazia and then a few weeks later I received an order from Selfridges, which for me was quite an emotional moment. It is my favourite store and having my collection next to the best designers feels really breathtaking.
What makes your brand different from all the leather accessory based labels out there?
The designs, the original cuts, the shapes and the materials. The pieces are glamorous, young and edgy, but also made with high quality materials. I found people like the combination of all these things.
What is in your mind when you start designing an accessory?
I like to play with the shapes and contrasting material. I approach the bag as a sculptural object, a 3-d shape. I try to make it visually appealing and consistent on its own as well as in interaction with the body.
Who is the perfect Kzeniya woman?
The perfect Kzeniya woman is bright, elegant, seductive, confident in herself, uncompromising in terms of quality and not afraid to experiment.
In which market did you find yourself being the most successful? Is there any country where you would like to bring your collections?
The UK and the US market have been successful for me so far. I am also planning to expand more in the Asian market particularly in Japan, Hong Kong and China, as well as the Middle East.
What do you think of designer collaborations with high street brands? Would you ever be keen to see lower price versions of your designs worn by a wider range of people?
I am not sure. The main thing in the collaboration is to make sure not to denature the brand, not to compromise too much on the creative style. I believe one of the reasons behind the current success of my brand lies in the originality of my designs and the quality of the leathers and the cuts. While intellectually I would be very keen to collaborate with a high street brand and see more people with my pieces, I am not sure how it would fit with the ‘lower price’ assumption.
What inspired you to create the designs of your new Spring/Summer 13 collection?
The new collection is inspired by paper folding techniques, sculptural shapes featuring layers of engraved, laser cut leather and perspex plastic in various colours. The main inspiration was architecture, geometry, origami, layering and sculptural forms in leather and paper.
Your biography mentions you fell in love with leather while experimenting with it. What would your designs be about if leather didn’t become such a big part of your work?
I also love working with metal, so I guess if I didn’t fall in love with leather I would be designing jewellery!
It doesn’t take anything other than talent and hard work to become a successful individual, and Kzeniya Oudenot is the living proof.
Shop Kzeniya’s latest collection at Selfridges by clicking here
For wholesale orders please go to www.lenewblack.com/kzeniya