London Fashion Week is a time for emerging and established designers to push the boundaries and showcase their new season collections. In this series we look at some of our fave up and coming designers who are bringing their AW17 collections to the LFW Designer Showrooms. So meet Yvailo an MA Accountant, ex-Fashion Marketing student come designer who believes in quality over quantity…
You’re an MA Accountant and an ex-student in Fashion Marketing, how did you fall into fashion designing and what inspired you to set up your own label?
I always wanted to study fashion but in my teenage years O was pushed by my parents to go into accounting with the reason that they are well paid. So I spent good 12 years in accounting graduating with an MA degree and 8 years of work experience. But it wasn’t the right thing for me. Yes, I did earn well and the opportunities were growing but I was one miserable worker who was hiding his dissatisfaction from life with crazy shopping. Then I met my partner who at the time was living with some friends, all fashion students, and I suddenly felt alive again in their company. This persuaded me to apply for an MA in Fashion Design. London was the city choice as I always wanted to give it a try to see how living in such a cosmopolitan city was. Could you imagine the university’s reaction when they received my application: MA Accountant applying for an MA Fashion Design? Luckily they forwarded my application to the Fashion Marketing department where my background was better suited and this is how I ended at least in a fashion class. The first three years here I got really distracted: the heavy fast consumerism soaked me in quickly leaving my dreams for design on a side. Meanwhile, I was realising what was happening, trying to cover my self-disappointment with sweet purchases. Then one summer day I decided to put an end to all that fake reality and gave myself a month deadline to complete a full collection. And this is how it all started. The first two collections were a try so we ended up not presenting them, the 3rd one brought the brand name and the story lines, the 5th the core values and DNA. Each collection keeps adding a new knowledge layer on top of the previous one helping us to grow one step at a time.
Being environmentally friendly is important to you, how would you say this influences your designs?
FREYA THE SNOW QUEEN, the 5th collection was the first entirely non-leather collection. We never intended the usage of furs beforehand anyway. Silk and wool were still present, though. We kept this policy for four more seasons. It was then LUCILLE THE LUNATIC that pushed us even further by becoming the first vegan collection done by us with no animal products or animal derivatives at all. SYREENE THE NYMPH, which we will present this month at the Designer Showrooms during LFW brought further challenges: how to do winter clothing without the use of wool, for example. I am glad we set up these environmental goals. Otherwise, we will be still sitting in our comfort zone going the trivial way. These extra pushes resulted in oversized coats that you could wash in the washing machine without the need for dry cleaning. In latex garments that do not stain permanently like leather and you can wipe off all dirt. In breathable silk-soft cupro (regenerated cotton waste) lining in the same latex garments. In distressed cotton jerseys with iridescent effect with shimmer effects. In Japanese nets with cosy velvet touch that is extremely durable to wear. In trousers what you can wash without the worry of shrinking them like the wool. We are proudly breaking the stereotypes that vegan clothing means saggy shapeless linen clothes. And we firmly believe we are stepping on the right way.
Talk us through your design process.
Collections as ideas start very early for us, sometimes as early as three years in advance. Ideas are like fruits: the more time you give them, the more ripped they get. The closer we get to the start of each project, the more we have narrowed the design frames such as colour palette, silhouette, fabric textures. Sometimes we would like a fabric that we know it will be used in three seasons ahead, that’s how much in advance we work. I, as the designer don’t see the clothes only, I see the whole result: collection story, styling, make-up, hair, photo shoot, the whole vision for the collection, not just the garments alone. This really eases the process on every stage as the team understands what needs to be achieved. It is really important to know what you want from the beginning. The beginning and the end always vary as changes are necessary on the way but it is important to know what you want exactly.
Describe your typical day…
No two days are the same and this is something I really love compared to accounting. In one day you can be discussing fabrics, applying online design changes, running social media, setting product promotions, working on patterns, organising photo shoots, negotiating on locations and models, designing catalogues and invitations, and calculating cost prices and margins (something accounting background really helps with, so can’t really blame my parents). What you develop within time are strong multi-tasking and organisational skills as you have to be everywhere at once and no one knows your business better than yourself; it is your own at the end. That is actually a quote I remembered from the last CFE course for fashion designers. A great sentence I often recall to in tough situations and occurring dilemmas.
Can you tell us what the inspiration was behind you AW17 collection?
Here is the story behind SYREENE THE NYMPH: “Another moonless night blindly sank in the blue darkness. Another lost ship with desperate sailors without hopes. Suddenly a few bright sparkles broke the gloom like tiny azure stars. SYREENE again as bait showed her mesmerising glitter nymph skin. Shimmer mist sprinkled the black sand. Tears as frozen snowflakes filled her eyes. The grief from her dead love, fatally seduced in a sea storm, was still bitterly bleeding. His face silently as a ghost wandered the sea bed.
The ship turned towards the magnificent bay. The bay where arctic freeze and dead waters had lethally wrapped every sailor’s face. The bay where all hopes had turned into ice. SYREENE knew what a disaster she had became. But all the other women had to know how deep her despair is. The despair as sharp as an iceberg to loose the beloved one.”
The mood is very dark, gloomy expressing the fatal sadness in the story. The silhouettes are very elongated, contrasting between soft slouchy (inspired by fishnets) and rough oversized (inspired by icebergs shapes). Fabrics are mostly shiny, with heavy glitter and patch sequins, some even with a lenticular effect, trying to reproduce mermaid skin. Sea waves movement have been implemented as design across the whole collection. The bodysuits have cups with clam shell form. Now I believe you know why the storylines behind our collections are so important. Without them, our clothes could not exist.
What have been your career highlights so far and what have you got planned for the future?
Highlights come and go, life is a rollercoaster. My greatest professional achievement is that I work what I really love. It is tough, it is rough, it is challenging and hard but is is a real sick obsession. And then when the results come on, when you see people happy, dressed in your items, everything dark suddenly fades to an invisible shade. Greatest happiness comes from achievements, not from purchases. This is one of the strongest lessons I’ve learnt with YVAILO.
As for the future, we do not make long-term plans, it’s unpredictable, the world changes so quickly now and we have to accept it that way. The future is tomorrow and we have to live in today. This is the present. Speaking of it, we will be in the for the first time at the DESIGNER SHOWROOMS between 17-21st February during London Fashion Week. What will come out of it, only faith knows? Our focus is to prepare for it, the rest will flow on its own. The words towards it: #feelinggrateful.