The designer at the helm of fashion label Vilshenko shows us around her whimsical closet and reveals her secrets for building a successful brand.
Olga Vilshenko’s wardrobe, like her label, is feminine and pretty with a slight gothic edge. A native of the Ural region of Russia, the designer reimagines her heritage by combining easy-to-wear pieces with folkloric Russian touches like embroidery, luxe fabrics and floral prints. This also happens to be every inch the designer’s own personal style – it’s been a while since we’ve seen such a well-curated collection of floral midi dresses and white embroidered blouses. As we talk about her love of Russian craftsmanship and moving to London full time, we also explore her treasure chest of beautiful earrings, Gucci shoes and vintage bags.
I keep everything in categories; I group together my blouses, then my skirts, dresses etc. I organise each group starting from the lighter colours at one side going into the dark colours – I add printed fabrics into this accordingly. This way I always find it simple to style looks.
I did a seasonal turnaround when I lived in Russia, as we have proper seasons there. I feel that here in London you almost need the same wardrobe throughout the year. I keep summer clothes separate for holidays, though, and I do store away my heavy winter clothing when spring comes.
I started the brand in 2010 in a small studio in London. I’ve always loved London and the way women dress here really inspires me. There’s definitely an edge. I then opened a studio where I lived in Moscow for production and design, as the craftsmanship in Russia is excellent and a lot of my embroideries and prints are taken from traditional Russian techniques.
We bought this flat as a pied-à-terre, as I travelled to London for one week every month and I was tired of living in hotels. But then we decided as a whole family to move here full time last summer, and we’re currently looking for a more permanent home as we have three children.
This is the kind of dress I would wear on holiday, summer in the city, for work, or a party with friends. It’s versatile, very comfortable, light and the embroidery makes it special. The inspiration comes from my country’s heritage, which I use in every season’s collection.
These are Chloé, from Net-A-Porter. They are very comfortable and give me a bit of height. I love the velvet texture and rich colour, it works for all seasons. My favourite shoes always have an ankle strap; I find it more flattering on the leg.
I think it’s great that you can now wear pyjamas in the street, for work and for an evening out too. They’re so comfortable, which is important for me. It’s also versatile as you can then style the top with jeans and the bottoms with a simple t-shirt or roll-neck.
My day-to-day style is simple and comfortable. I’ll wear jeans with a Vilshenko blouse, or a Vilshenko midi-dress. I also love skirts – short or midi – with comfortable heeled boots.
I prefer heels for special occasions and flats for day-to-day. I also like a kitten heel – they look sophisticated and are super-practical. These shoes I chose for the colour, I love the white and the oversized bow really dresses up denim.
This is just a little taster of my full collection of sunglasses, I have so many but most are still in Moscow. My favourite designer brands are Céline Eyewear, Garrett Leight, Dior and Chloé.
I like a slightly vintage feel to my blouses, I always use very old references as an inspiration and then make them modern and easier to wear.
I couldn’t decide between these so I bought both! I’m definitely a shoe girl. At Vilshenko we don’t make accessories, so I buy bags and shoes from other designers. If I want to wear something minimal for every day, I like a Céline coat or jacket, and I’ve also got a great Saint Laurent suede fringed jacket that works really well over my dresses. For every day I like denim such as Re/Done and also their Hanes t-shirts.
All of these pieces are part of my jewellery collection. I like to add a boldness to my look, especially for the evening.
These are my Miu Miu crystal earrings, I love them as they instantly dress up my look for the evening. A Vilshenko dress and these earrings and I’m ready to go.
The long wrap dress is Vilshenko, it’s the Freya dress and from my Resort ’18 collection, worn with Saint Laurent boots. I like a bohemian style that looks easy and effortless.
These designs are also from my Resort ’18 collection and feature floral prints and embroidery on 100% silk, which is key within our collections. In this image we have the ink floral all-over print, as well as a floral wreath embroidery.
I have many bags, I love vintage finds but also look to brands such as Céline, JW Anderson and Saint Laurent.
When developing a piece we start by looking at beautiful fabrics and colours – I often visit vintage markets wherever I am in the world for inspiration. Then we look at prints; it’s a very important aspect of the design process and often we hand draw these in-house or work with artists to develop them.
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