An interview with… Katya Kovtunovich

Whether it’s a new boutique brand, well-established designers or, quite simply, something that makes us go ooh, you probably have noticed that here on The Coup we enjoy sharing our fashion findings with you. Today we’re saying hello to Katya Kovtunovich.

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Some of Katya’s biggest fans include Hollywood celebrity Vanessa Hudgens and Princess Charlene of Monaco; it’s not suprising then that Katya’s designs are no stranger to the red carpet. So when we recently caught up we wanted to discuss everything, from Katya’s previous role as a fashion journalist to the inspiration behind her designs. Here is what Katya had to say:

Q: It says on your website that you started designing dresses for your Barbie dolls when you were only 7 years old. What was it that drew you in fashion and, in particular, designing garments?

As, I think, every little girl I was dreaming of being a princess and wearing beautiful dresses. But in my childhood Russia was still a Soviet Union and we did not have anything particularly beautiful in the affordable stores. Beautiful clothes were very few and were very expensive. I come from a very modest family, so I could only dream about wearing those ball type of gowns. And with the help of my mom I started realising these dreams in the dresses for my Barbie, my most precious toy that I was lucky to have. I would create dresses out of lampshade fabric, curtains. I would spend all my free time doing it. I even won a Barbie fashion competition in my home town when I was 9. At around the same age I started making clothes for myself.

_MG_1745Q: How has your time as a fashion journalist helped you in launching your own brand?

When I came to London to do fashion internships in order to learn about the industry I was not sure what exactly in fashion I wanted to do –  And as I did not get much luck with “designer” internships I went into journalism. I started writing about everything that I saw and that inspired me and I happened to have a flair for writing as my editors kept asking for more articles. So it really was a coincidence.

Of course it was an incredibly enriching experience and I am very lucky to have had it! it opened a lot of doors and allowed me to meet the most outstanding people in the fashion industry – Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano, Gianfranco Ferre, CEO of LVMH Bernard Arnault to name a few, as well as the most talented models, actresses, photographers. It was a dream life. And it was incredibly inspiring. I constantly wanted to get more knowledgable, learn to write better, ask better questions, be more professional. This passion made me into a true fashion industry professional – when I applied for Masters of Fashion Journalism at London College of Fashion I was told I was overqualified :). 

It taught me that sometimes in order to be a real professional – you do not have to study, you can just work and learn from people who you admire. In a way it made me believe that I can be a designer without a formal education.

Also, of course, as a journalist I was given a great privilege to interview a lot of fashion designers and hear their stories. It is an incredible sensation – when you sit with a talented person admired by very many people around the world in a one on one meeting and ask them questions. In one moment you really start feeling that that person has truly opened up and suddenly you almost understand it beyond words – the things and the experiences he or she is talking about. I learned that all of the designers worked very hard, that success was not an overnight thing, that they were not afraid to dare to do things differently, sometimes against the circumstances. I also learned that no one had a fairy tale story. Everyone worked very much for their success and created their own luck. It reassured me that if they could do it i could do it to.

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Q: What was it that made you specialise in dress making?When I was a journalist, I kept making my own dresses and wearing them while travelling for fashion weeks in New York, Paris, Milan.

And I would always get compliments from people in the street. They would stop me and ask where I got that dress from or wanted to have my number to get the sme coat made for their girlfriends. I was thinking “Hey, I must have some sort of talent that makes people notice my clothes” – I promised myself if 10 more people stop me and tell me that I should be a designer – i would have to become one. So, thats how it happened.

Q: What sources do you draw inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from successful women that I admire. I like to think – what would they like to wear to a business meeting, to the beach or a lunch on a yacht, a romantic dinner, a St Tropez trip or a skiing holiday. It gets me inspired.

Q: If you were to chose 3 words that best described Katya Kovtunonich creations, what would they be?

Head turning, elegant, timeless

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Q: Do you have any advice that you could give to others interested in creating their own brand?

To not give up and always ask people (who in the end are going to be your final clients) to decide if what you do is good or not.  Sometimes it may be easy to get discouraged by opinions of some industry professionals when you are a growing brand. But if people around you notice what you create and want to have those pieces – this should be your motivation and a “sign” that what you do is right.

Q: You’re quite a traveller by that sounds of it.  How has your time in Russia, London and now Dubai influenced your work?

My travels help me to understand the needs and tastes of people in different parts of the world. When I used to travel to fashion weeks – I would wear totally different clothes in Paris, Milan, London and New York. Each city has its own vibe and inspires you to look different. hence, when I create a new collection – I can imagine and combine what a girl in New york would wear, a girl in Paris and a girl in London.

Sometimes I create a piece that I imagine worn only in Russia – but it turns out to be adored by a girl from Los Angeles. This happened with  my coats made out of traditional Emirati Tent and sofa cover fabrics. Also my Parisian clients liked them very much. It was a very unexpected success and made me feel very proud – that I managed to anticipate the wishes of such different women in such different countries. 

Also living in different climate zones made me more practical in terms of designing. When I create winter clothes – practical features come to my mind first, as I know very well what it feels like to have cold winters from my time in Russia. On the opposite, when I create summer collections – I take on my Dubai experience and try to use as much as possible cottons, cooling fabrics and lose silhouettes. 

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Q: What kind of woman are your designs for?

For successful, confident, intelligent and fun women, who know that they deserve to be admired.

Q: What has been the highlight of your career to date?

When Andrea Bocelli’s wife and CEO Veronica Berti ordered 5 dresses from my collection.

Q: What is next for KK?

We are looking forward to creating more beautiful dresses that will help more ladies all over the world to look and feel very special.

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Such beautiful designs! If you’d like to find out more about Katya and her work, be sure to check out her website here.

Images by Gleb Osipov

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