Xsenia Runa and Olya Shiskina are not your typical designer duo. They share not only the same vision, but similar backgrounds and a deep understanding of their designs. Although they first met at Central Saint Martins, after graduation they each established their own separate labels. Their decision to work together was actually spontaneous. Probably why they do not want to make any statements about how they see themselves in the future. “We live for the moment. And at any time in the future, we will still be living for the moment’’ said Xsenia.
Perhaps the right attitude to have considering the welcoming reception, their recently launched SS 2013 collection ‘Liquid Smoke’, had in comparison to their debut collection for SS 2012 ‘Staircase Wit’, presented at both London and Paris Fashion Week 2012. This time it was also about movement and the idea of ‘revealing and concealing’, but with a little bit greater focus on print. It was inspired by water and smoke, the combination of two elements: air and water. The idea is reflected both in shape and digital prints. “We start with a mannequin and fabrics, then we build it all around the body to create a form.We also do a lot of research. While preparing this collection, we made a lot of photos to capture the inspiring movements’’, added Olya.
Movement has always been present in their lives. Xsenia loves horse-riding. She has been doing it for five years. Olya used to dance ballet with her sister until a leg injury made her give it up for fashion but the figures of ballerinas is still of interest and continues to inspire her. When I ask them about the perfect personality of their ideal customer, they both insist that she would be a self-confident woman, probably one who travels a lot. But most importantly, she would be very comfortable, yet still desirable and feminine. Xsenia thinks this is the way women are required to be in Russia, “Women should stay beautiful even while cooking dinner.’’
It seems like their background plays a role in the way both designers perceive fashion. Olya remembers being a child, and playing with her sister, remaking her mother’s clothes. Xsenia on the other hand, always looked up to her grandmother, who according to her, had a very feminine but edgy look. Of course, studying in London was a period of immense freedom and a challenge of their hitherto ideas, as the educational approach in England was totally different to one back home in Russia. “At St Martins, we studied Womenswear design. And we were taught it was all dependent on your own style. Like being in the middle of the ocean and finding your own way out of it. Meanwhile, in Russia teachers just told you how things should be done!” said Xsenia.
So is there a formula to becoming a designer? “Yes, there is definitely no one proper way to do things. But you have to love and believe in what you do all the time. If your work makes you happy, the universe will help you out.’’ This is the philosophy Olya lives by. We await what becomes of these two, not in the future but in the moment! Find out more about the designer duo here.
Photos the courtesy of xsenia-olya.com
Written by Marta Knaś