I admire Ulyana Sergeenko’s eclectic taste for all things beautiful, for leaving an impression since her debut that lead to her becoming one of the most recognizable street style stars, now turned fashion designer. Tommy Ton and The Sartorialist’s Scott Shuman have cameras that have fallen in love with the Russian it girl. Is it her canvas like features we adore the most? Her porcelain skin? Her signature red lips? Ulyana takes risks, she wears vintage, all the while inspiring our whimsical fantasies of owning, and wearing couture the way she does.
But to talk only of her beauty and sense of style is not what this post is about. It’s about what drove her to become successful, how she attained her incredible taste of style, and how she quelled the laughter of her fellow Russians who thought she wouldn’t make it as a designer. The Russian style icon never studied design, nor was she born into a family of oligarchs- although she ended up marrying one. She could be considered an ‘accidental designer’. Ulyana may not be an anomaly say like Miuccia Prada; originally a mime student who was a member of the Italian Communist Party before she turned her grandfathers leather goods into a luxury brand; Prada, and Miu Miu. Miuccia was far from the world of fashion design. Sometimes unexpected individuals become the designers we crave to see more from.
“All my life I was absolutely crazy about nice, beautiful things. Maybe it’s because of my grandmother. I had a Soviet childhood, and it was difficult to buy some things. My grandmother made dresses for me. She used all her sources to make me beautiful. I was born in Kazakhstan. When I was at school, all the school discussed how I was dressed. I loved to wear, for example, a dress with trousers, something a bit crazy. We had an uniform in my school. You know, teachers were angry with me because I was always disobeying them and wearing what I wanted”.
Ulyana Sergeenko on the other hand always had an eye for beautiful things. Originally from Ust-Kamenogorsk, a small, poor town in Kazakhstan, Ulyana was raised in a family of linguists. Often she cites literature as another one of her great inspirations. I believe it!! She has done collections in the past where model’s walked out of a giant storybook and out and onto the runway, featuring Gone With The Wind and other American literature classics. While growing up her style icons were Bridget Bardot, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, and Ava Gardner. She was a rule breaker when it came to disregarding her schools strict uniform dress code. And her grandmother would always make sure she would have beautiful outfits, by making them herself. So does it really seem all that surprising that the Red Queen (another nickname she has acquired) became a successful designer?
I take my inspiration from old movie stars, from old movies, from Soviet cartoons, sometimes even cartoon heroes. I adore Ava Gardner, I love Sophia Loren, I love Brigitte Bardot, of course. Grace Kelly. And a lot of Soviet names, which I think you don’t know. Soviet culture is not so popular.- Ulyana On being asked about her style icons.
Her Atelier in Moscow first opened in 2010, those who had previously laughed at her, now wanted to own her couture garments. She’s made it to Paris Fashion Week four years in a row, her last collection shown for the Spring-Summer 2014 season, was called ‘Kazakhstan Express’, drawing elements from Central Asia, and Kazakhstan the country she grew up in. Not only did the places she grow up in, and visit inspire her- The main question was: What would Bridget Bardot wear? The models hair and makeup had Bridget’s dramatic eyeliner, and each garment Ulyana made she would wonder if her style icon would have loved to wear it.
I’m going to say yes, that Bridget bardot would have loved to wear any of these pieces, she would be so lucky! Who could resist anything from this collection? If you see the fluidity of the garments when the models walk down the runway, there is this incredible movement to each piece, and the delicate nature of the silks…so stunning I’m practically speechless that I can’t express just how amazing it is. You just have to watch the video: Spring Summer 2013 ‘Kazakhstan Express’ collection.
I really admired and still admire John Galliano because, of course, he’s a genius. And I love what Karl Lagerfeld does for Chanel, especially for Couture. I love his things. This time, it was funny because Raf Simons in his Couture collection for Dior, he created this beautiful floral skirt, with a transparent sweater. It was not “our” look, but it was very my thing. I admire a lot of designers. When you are doing something by yourself, you understand how difficult it is to be a designer, how difficult it is to have inspiration all the time, how difficult to organize all the processes. I love all the designers. I love shoes from McQueen, hats from Philip Treacy or Stephen Jones. I have a collection of really unique things, and I’m happy to have it.
Sergeenko’s collections are also popular outside of Paris and Moscow, Fan Bing Bing to Pace Wu amongst American artists have been spotted wearing the Sergeenko Moscow atelier designs, to Cannes, to Bulgari events. etc.
I hope you enjoyed this mini biography on Ulyana Sergeenko, and enjoyed some of her quotes, as well as the photo’s of her amazing outfits. I also want to say that in life you have to do what makes you happy, if you have a little idea go for it- if you want to be a blogger, blog. If you want to be a fashion designer don’t only pursue fashion have other interests that will let your mind be creative, and different that you will grab peoples attention. But for the most part, who or what inspires you in your life?