One of the advantages of having very stylish friends as that they’re fantastic at giving tip offs about amazing new designers. Now I must confess that I’ve always been a bit of a shoe girl but since hitting the big 3-0 (not sure I’ve mentioned that quite enough have I?!), I’ve started to think about adding a ‘keep forever’ bag to my wardrobe. The problem for me when making purchases quite a bit over my usual budget (as ‘keep forever’ ones tend to be) is that I end up faced with the tricky balancing act of buying something timeless yet still contemporary enough to not look like I’m dressing way beyond my years. As fashion oxymorons go, it’s a tough one and whilst Chanel continually manage to update their classic bags in a variety of colours and finishes (but eternally over my modest savings), a lot of other designers’ bags tend to be very season led and therefore as redundant as an X Factor winner’s career once S/S or A/W is over. Faced with this conundrum, you can image my delight when Fashion For Lunch arrived for one of our sadly too infrequent weekend meet ups wearing a Kzeniya ‘Dream Bag’.
Kzeniya Oudenot, the talented designer behind the lustworthy range, is a London St Martin’s College graduate and founded the label in 2010. With previous employers as diverse as the Royal Opera House and Alexander McQueen, Kzeniya’s designs have the perfect mix of classic shape with contemporary detail through the contrast of the perspex and brass elements. Curious to find out more about Kzeniya and her designs? Well thankfully she very kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions…
Your biography says that before you started the label, you designed sets and costumes for operas and ballets. How did you make the leap from that to designing accessories?
I originally studied theatre design for set and costumes, so after graduation assisted with the designs for opera and ballet. It was really a fantastic experience, theatre is still my great passion, but I was always leaning towards something slightly more commercial, so decided to try myself in fashion.
I was approached by some technological companies who had amazing innovative materials and who wanted me to create unique costumes with them to illustrate the technology. I did several projects like that, we showcased costumes in museums and galleries and had lots of press, I was invited to conferences to speak about my experience, so it was really fun. My last project was to create 3D holographic prints, the best material for these prints was leather so I started working with leather and decided to create a small range of leather accessories. I enjoyed it so much that decided to focus on accessories since then.
Do you think your previous career has influenced your designs in any way and if so, how?
Perhaps there is something similar to designing theatre sets, when I design accessories, I think of them as 3D objects. Instead of drawings, I love working with patterns and 3D shapes in cardboard.
What do you think has been the biggest influence on your designs and what’s currently inspiring you?
Sculpture, art, architecture and jewellery elements.
When designing, do you have an image of the ‘Kzeniya’ customer in your head and how would you describe them?
Someone experimental, very cultural, educated, who likes to be different, original, to stand out from the crowd and be very attractive.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
I am discussing collaborations with various jewellery designers.
As a designer, what’s been your proudest moment so far?
Having seen my designs on so many celebrities and also to be chosen for Vogue Talents and having an opportunity to present my collection to Anna Wintour and Franca Sozzani.
If you could only keep one bag from your collection, which one would it be and why?
Dream bag as you can wear it day and night.
Where would you like to see the brand in five years’ time?
To sell in more amazing stores, perhaps introduce jewellery and maybe open own store.
And finally, what are your handbag essentials?
Notebook, diary, pen and phone.
Having studied one of the ‘Dream Bags’ close up (and then reluctantly returned it to its owner – bah!), I can confirm that the quality is brilliant and the leather has a very subtle shimmer meaning that the bags will see you through from desk to disco (and back again if it’s been one of *those* nights…)! Available to buy through her website and at various online and international stockists, these bags are proving to be a hit with both celebrities and the fashion elite and hopefully it won’t be too long before I own my own dream ‘Dream Bag’!