DSO: What led you to start your own womenswear label?
AO: I think it has been my inner passion for beauty. When I was a kid I didn’t know anything about such a profession, I lived in a little industrial town in the Ukraine and there was nothing really inspiring around, but I dreamt about creating the inspiration for others. I dreamt of making dresses for women that will be more than just a casual wardrobe, that will be some kind of a dream. I saw an article about Jean Paul Gauthier and this was the first glimpse into fashion for me. I was 8 years old when I decided to be a fashion designer. I actually still don’t have the exact answer and I am finding a new sense of my work each season.
DSO: Can you tell us more about who the “Anna October woman” is?
AO: She is easy with herself, she enjoys being a woman. Her femininity is very natural and joyful. She likes to do things that make her happy. She likes to work on her dreams. Whether it’s a career or a garden she is a perfectionist when she creates her life. Surrounding herself with exceptional objects, paying attention to detail in everyday life and in her relationships with herself and people. She likes to have fun, to walk barefoot on the grass wearing a chic dress.
DSO: How does your background in fine art impact your vision and the design process?
AO: I think it’s my vision of colour and light. This was the most inspiring part for me studying fine art, when I discovered colour. I like playing with composition, I see the collection as a canvas and want to make a harmonic statement on it. But I think my life and experience itself gives me more power and inspiration than any studying. It’s more about energy that I am putting into the work than any visual language. I can speak many languages but it will be the same vibe.
DSO: Femininity and womanhood is at the centre of the Anna October ethos. What does femininity mean to you?
AO: It is living harmonically in your body and accepting your nature. Femininity starts for me from the moment when you touch your skin in the morning, feeling your body. It’s not a contradiction with masculinity, I like all the so-called “mans lines” in a woman's character. I think we are always both in one, our duality is beautiful. A woman has a strong intuition, she feels the energy of nature, people and places. So femininity is a complex of her natural lines and strength. Womanhood is a powerful source of inspiration for me, my girlfriends are my superheroes and I’m always thinking of them when working, I’m thinking of how I can make their lives more beautiful.
DSO: How does that play out in your personal style?
AO: I’m a dress person. I rarely wear pants, I like to wear skirts and dresses, I like satin textures a lot, how they lay on a body, how the fabric moves when I dance. I like to make everyday more special by paying a little bit more attention to dressing. I don’t like boring or flat style, I like when the style is light, airy I would say.
DSO: Can you tell us about your ethical production process?
AO: We start with thinking of what is relevant today, what a woman really needs and what she already has. This allows us to produce a small and relevant collection, with no extra production or show pieces that would never be worn. I like when clothes live in lives, not when they just hang in stores or wardrobes. Each dress is special with exceptional quality, this makes it practical for years. Once I’ve realised how many fabrics are already produced - I switched into using the deadstock fabrics. 70% of the collection is produced of fabrics that already produced and it’s discounted or it’s left from previous productions. We use many of our own dead stock.
Our process is transparent as we make samples in our studio in Kyiv and produce bulk involving small domestic manufacturers. We know each person who is making dresses for our stores, we control and support each step, it becomes an educational initiative sometimes as we use delicate luxurious techniques in garment making and we do educate others with this craftsmanship. Now we have started to support local single knitters, usually single women who make sweaters for us. It’s slow, time consuming to produce the sweater usually takes 5 days, but I like the idea that it’s handcrafted and that we continue the tradition. I would love to develop this more and more, it inspires me.
DSO: What inspires your designs? Are there any artists, public figures or other muses that you draw inspiration from?
AO: My girlfriends, always. I think of a certain friend and making a dress she would wear. I always want to see people in my collection, this is the meaning of my work. For example my friend Ksenia has an amazing body and likes an open back, so I've made a dress with an open back and she really liked it. Then I usually start my creative process from a word, usually naming the emotion I want to recreate. I love the idea that people can change their mood or the scenario of their day just by changing the dress, I like helping them with this.
DSO: You use a lot of vintage silhouettes. Who are your favourite vintage icons?
AO: Jerry Hall, Jacky Kennedy, Coco Chanel. But I like many more.
DSO: How has being based in the Ukraine affected the Anna October aesthetic?
AO: Ukraine is an amazing country with a very unique culture. It’s reach in nature and colours, womanhood- it’s soul. But you will never find bold style metaphors from my culture in my collection. It’s more abstract.
DSO: If you could choose one hero piece from the Mode Edit, which would it be? How would you style it?
AO: I will choose a knitted dress in black as it’s very easy and comfortable yet elegant. I like styling it with flat sandals like Birkenstock, or boots. I like the contrast and comfort. I would add a big shopper bag and earrings. This is the dress for the day, an amazing day, so the woman has to feel comfortable.