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In Her Shoes: Katya Kovtunovich

By Linah Hashmi


Katya Kovtunovich Russian Fashion DesignerBorn on the Russian island of Sakhalin, Katya Kovtunovich was obsessed with designing dresses for her barbie at the age of 7, and at 16 she was already turning heads with her self made skirts and jumpsuits. This young fashionista in the making went on to study Linguistics at renowned St. Petersburg State University before moving to London to follow her dream – to learn about fashion from professionals. In a matter of weeks she landed an internship at London Fashion Week, a part-time job at Prada and a work-experience place at British Vogue. From there “charming and hardworking” Katya was invited to assist at Vogue China, GQ and Tatler, where she encountered the legendary Isabella Blow, who famously discovered the talent of Alexander McQueen.When Katya showed Isabella her hand made dresses and heard only ”cute” in return, she realized that it would take much more to become a successful fashion designer. Not putting her head down, Katya set out to be a journalist and went to attend international Fashion Weeks long before she was officially invited, bravely approaching Giorgio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld and John Galliano with interviews in Italian, German and French. Her articles graced the pages of Russian Vogue and people everywhere kept asking her to sell the hand made outfits that she was wearing – she decided it was the time to open up for her real passion. In 2010 Katya Kovtunovich was officially launched, a brand for successful independent young women like herself, a new emerging talent in the fashion world, that will definitely set her mark…watch out for her!

The interview:

So you’re a fashion designer, journalist and entrepreneur. How do you find time to do it all?

Actually I am no longer doing journalism full time. I did it for 5 years – writing features for Russian Elle, L’Officiel, Vogue, reporting from fashion weeks. I had a great time and met all the most amazing people from the industry – from designers to CEOs and editors. As a journalist you get to ask them questions and get to find out a lot of information – it was better than going to a fashion school! But now I am fully focused on developing my clothing brand – where being a designer and entrepreneur come together very naturally.

You’ve had the honor of interviewing legends like John Galliano, Giorgio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld. Which was your favourite interview and who is your favourite designer of all?

I interviewed several designers. Its always a very special moment when you sit down with a greatly talented person and you feel that they start opening up. Its is a magical feeling. I never had that with Karl Lagerfeld or Galliano as it was always brief interviews after the show, but I particularly loved chatting with Alexander Wang because we are the same generation and went through the same stages in career, such as interning at Vogue magazine etc, he is also a true bundle of energy and a very nice person.

You’re Russian yet you also have an Arabic touch to your collection which I love. You have been photographed by a renowned photographer and  your collection featured in Russia’s Harper’s BAZAAR, tell us more

Mixing cultures and influences is my favourite thing. I love to find new life for traditional things, fabrics and silhouettes. I like to turn them into something modern and show them in a different light to people so they become “cool” again. I really like Arabic colours and the prints and I wanted to reinvent that in my collection. Last year we did a beautiful photo shoot in the desert with an arabian horse – all my European clients loved it. This collection was a big hit in South of France because of the Arabic photo shoot! My collection was featured on full page on the January 2012 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR Russia. What really melted my heart is the fact that the Russian actress and singer who modelled the outfit coat in BAZAAR ordered the outfit and said it was her favourite item of the shoot! Another pleasant surprise came last winter in London while I was visiting a friend, who works at Vogue London,  wearing a long coat from my own collection, made out of Arabic fabric with a thobe feel to it, paired with a fluffy goat’s fur hat. It couldn’t be a more eclectic look. I was stopped at the entrance outside by a man who asked to take a picture of me. He turned out to be legendary British photographer, Barry Lategan, who photographed everybody from 60s supermodel Twiggy to Margaret Thatcher. Everywhere I went people just loved my coat!

Your ss’13 collection has this vintage feel to it which I personally love and I’ve noticed it is also your favourite style in outfits. Tell us about the inspiration behind your SS’13 collection

My ss’13 collection is called “Elle Capitan” or a Lady Captain. I adore women at the wheel of their lives, with all hands on deck! Women who have a drive and a passion to proclaim their talent to the world. The first part of the collection is for a lady dressed for business meetings or lunches. I just love to find fabrics that move my imagination and create what I would wear myself. Usually each season my mood changes- that’s why collections happen to have a different feel. We did the photoshoot for this collection on a boat because of its marine theme.

Katya’s ‘Elle Capitan’ ss’13 campaign:


What is your iconic piece from your ss’13 collection?

The white and grey striped trouser suit with gold buttons. It is so minimalistic and chic! I always feel royal when I wear it.

[Look 18] 17


Your dresses have been favoured by some royalties and celebrities, the likes of H.R. H Princess Charlene of Monaco, Veronica Berti, fiancée of Andrea Bocelli, Hollywood actress Vanessa Hudgens, singer Sophie Ellis Bextor, to name a few. Who would you like to see your outfits on next?

I adore women with talent, drive and ambitions. For me it does not matter if a woman is a renowned public figure or is just making the first steps on her way. I admire confidence, determination and focus and I feel very proud when a woman like that chooses to wear my clothes. It can be just a bright school girl or an actress at the height of her career. For me the excitement is the same.

Tell us the events you’ve been at or showcased your collection. Also tell us about the last Grand Prix event in Dubai where you showcased your latest collection

My first event happened 2 years ago – I was invited to participate in Mercedes-Benz Russian Fashion week. This is where I first introduced the arabic coats. I did not know how Russian people would take it. But since Dubai is such a popular holiday destination the response was amazing. My most recent was the fashion show on a boat during Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix where I debuted my SS’13 collection! It was definitely a unique experience.

Congratulations on your new showroom you just opened in Dubai a few weeks back! Tell us about it and what this means for you and your business?

I am incredibly proud and happy that my business is now fully legitimate and now I have a beautiful space to receive clients. Here they can come, try the samples from the current collection and we can alter them according to their measurements. They can also order custom made dresses – for weddings or red carpet events at the showroom.  Please email me on k@katyakovtunovich.com for directions and we will be happy to see you in our showroom.

Your favourite Middle-East city?

I have not travelled much in the Middle East yet. But I am totally fascinated by Jeddah in Saudi Arabia through the stories of my friends who are living there. I would also like to visit Beirut. I also enjoy just going to the mountains in Fujairah, UAE, or horse riding in the desert.

Where are you selling?

Katya Kovtunovich is currently sold at Raffles Hotel in Seychelles, The Grand Hotel Cap Ferrat in South of France, Six Senses Zighy Bay Hotel in Oman, in Moscow and in my showroom in Dubai.

What shoes are you wearing right now

YSL! I mean Saint Laurent. I am also a Casadei fan.


Katya Kovtunovich’s clothes have been featured in Harper’s Bazaar Russia, on the cover of Bahrain Confidential, and Cosmopolitan’s MINI magazine.

Katya Kovtunovich official website: www.katyakovtunovich.com

Katya Kovtunovich Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/katyakovtunovich




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