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Vilshenko: Soviet Folk

The Russian-born designer brings an interesting mixture of Soviet folk traditions to her modern take on Western luxury clothes

Originally from the Ural region of the then Communist-run Soviet Union, up-and-coming designer Olga Vilshenko has been coloured not only by the heritage of a bygone political era, but also by the isolated geographical area. Compare that to today, when Vilshenko divides her studio time between Moscow and London, and you have a brand with a unique take on beauty and design. It's the craftsmanship and sartorial details pointing back to her childhood, mixed with an eye for luxurious fabrics that has launched VILSHENKO, and will continue to keep Olga in the fashion spotlight.

Dazed Digital: Describe the brand...
Olga Vilshenko:
VILSHENKO is the eponymous brand of designer Olga Vilshenko. Fusing an eastern heritage of craftsmanship and Russian folklore influences with western couture disciplines, the collection comprises finely tailored separates rendered in modern silhouettes – each finished with elegant and opulent touches.

DD: How does Russian fashion differ from European?
Olga Vilshenko:
Traditional Russian design is very soft and organic with a distinctive individual look. There is a hidden provocative touch and elegance. The most distinctive character is inner charm of the clothes.
DD: What's your educational background?
Olga Vilshenko:
As a child I attended art school. I took lessons in painting and drawing as well as ballet and music classes.  After finishing high school, I took an accountancy course at the Ural State University and obtained a BA in Economics. Unfortunately, there was no such thing as a Fashion Design Course in Russia at the time. The opportunity to study Fashion Design at the Humanitarian Institute in Russia arose only years later.  I also attended a summer course at the Instituto Marangoni in London in 2007.
I practiced during my studying taking orders from my friends and acquaintances. I learnt a lot from my mother in terms making clothes and the processes involved in creating garments.  During my fashion course at the Humanitarian University in Russia I entered into a competition held in Moscow showing my 6 piece collection.
DD: When and how did you start your own brand?
Olga Vilshenko:
I launched it with Spring/Summer 2011 in London. I have a small studio in Moscow, where I design and work with my pattern cutters. I work with the stylist, photographer and PR in London and produce garments in Italy.
DD: What inspired the SS11 collection?
Olga Vilshenko:
VILSHENKO’s debut collection for Spring/Summer 2011 nods to late ’60s silhouettes and a structured ’90s masculinity, combining the two with signature details and resulting in a fresh, uncomplicated and utterly modern look.
My country is a key influence in my work.  Embroidery techniques, old jewellery and accessories influenced from Russian heritage all inspired the collection. My aesthetic is the idea of Russian culture inspired by art and literature as well as ancient embroidery techniques and sculptures of Soviet architecture. The collection results in traditional Russian influences mixed with contemporary and modern shapes.
DD: What's next for you?
Olga Vilshenko:
My aim is to master such an extraordinary level of quality and sophistication, which well-established fashion houses manage to achieve.  In the near future I am planning to establish a line of accessories and a perfume as well.