There is a global rising interest in designers from the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Collections of Ukrainian designers are featured on Vogue Runway, and their work is taking the street style podium around the international fashion weeks by storm. The brightest rising star in this company of promising young designers is probably Anna K, who had her debut at Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days, three years ago when she was only sixteen years old. Since then, her creations are being sold in top boutiques all over the world and not too long ago Vogue devoted an article to her, her young age and mature designs, as did Business of Fashion. After the presentation of her Spring-Summer 2016 collection in Kiev in the beginning of September, Anna has been flying from one European fashion city to the other, showing her collection in showrooms and modelling the garments herself on the streets. In between, we managed to ask her a few questions about her brand, the future and the rise of the Kiev fashion scene.
Childhood dreams and fairytale inspirations
Becoming a fashion designer was something Anna dreamed of ever since she was a little girl, she tells us, but unlike many others, she did not go through prestigious academies and demanding internships at larger fashion-houses to realize that dream.
Anna: “At the age of fourteen I started my career in fashion as a model, during which time I was highlighted on the covers of many magazines. But by the time I was sixteen, I changed my direction in the industry. I had a lot of creative and original ideas which I wanted to bring into my own collections, so I decided to make my big dream come true and showed my first collection at Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days.”
Anna’s collections stand out because they are well-balanced and mature, but playful and wearable at the same time, which is why her work is a hit among street style stars. “I prefer ready-to-wear over haute couture and find my inspiration mostly in fairytales and art. For example, my spring-summer 2016 collection is dedicated to the fairy-tale ‘The Princess on the Pea’ by Hans Christian Andersen”. This influence is reflected in the garments by items studded with pearly peas and flowy princess dresses that move like a cloud of ruffles.
“Sometimes it’s better to search for new faces not in fashion agencies, but in real life. It brings some new vibes to fashion.”
Aside from the designs, Anna K is making a name by original marketing and social media campaigns, such as the line of t-shirts called ‘Fashion circus’, with sassy texts like “Front-row only” or “I don’t give interviews”. For her most recent fashion show in Kiev, she launched the #everygirlisamodel campaign on Instagram, in which she asked girls who love the brand to apply to become a model for Anna K.
“Every girl is definitely a model.”
When asked if every girl really is a model, Anna answered: “Yes, of course, every girl is definitely a model.” She also frequently models her own clothing: on the streets, on the catwalk and in photo shoots, typically as a natural beauty without an excess of make-up and not over-styled.
Anna: “Sometimes it’s better to search for new faces not in fashion agencies, but in real life. It brings some new vibes to fashion. I was happy that a lot of girls took part in my contest, and showed how much they love the Anna K brand. They were all special and had an exceptional appearance.”
Kiev as an international fashion city
Despite the difficult times Ukraine as a country is going through, its fashion-industry is booming, which, according to Anna is not just a fleeting trend.
Anna: “I can say that Kiev is on its way to become the fifth fashion capital, I’m sure of it. The Spring-Summer 2016 season in Kiev was the first in the fashion show race [Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days took place from 3rd to 6th of september, slightly before the big fashion weeks, S.], and collections of Ukrainian designers presented at the event were highlighted on Vogue Runway. Also, a lot of important fashion influencers are interested in Ukrainian designers and they attend Kiev Fashion Days every season. Our designers are becoming stronger every season. We are making quality wearable collections and a lot of international buyers are interested in our work.”
The key to success according to Anna: “It’s all about loving what you do and not giving up. If you never give up, keep going, and create something new everyday – you will be successful. You should always think carefully about every little part of the process when making a collection.” For Anna, this includes not only the design of clothing: “Of course, you should also think about your website, social networks like Instagram – and all the innovative things available! I’m proud of how my brand developed in the past four years. In ten years time, the Anna K brand will be ten times bigger!”