Fashion Heaven Rants Exclusive: Sparkle Like A Star, Kzeniya

I have to admit that of late, there seem to be a great influx of new fashion labels, offering a refreshing infusion of fresh fashion takes in multitude of perspectives. 

In the accessories department, for instance, where the competition is really strong, there is a new name that one should never ever miss out for the world. She is Kzeniya Oudenot, founder of up and emerging fashion accessories label, Kzeniya London. 

Her name may not ring a bell among Malaysian fashionistas, unless you have been patronising Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong or London's cult Wolf & Badger boutique these days, where Kzeniya - the brand - calls them "abode". 

However, in Europe and the rest of the fashion sphere, Kzeniya has become a household name among global fashionistas and her bags, especially those cutting edge clutches, are gaining cult following among celebrities. Sizzling Latina/R&B diva Jennifer Lopez was recently caught on the paparazzi lenses clutching one of Kzeniya's infectitious creations and the image landed on the hallowed glossy pages of Grazia UK! 

That's not all. Her previous working experiences, among others, includes a money-can't-buy stint with the late fashion maestro and wunderkind Alexander McQueen himself! Okay, we'll get to that part later. Recently, the stars have been so kind to me, ditto Lady Luck for allowing me to correspond with the talented designer herself over the Internet. So, without further ado, let the chic conversation begins! 

Let's start with your background, shall we? 
Ok, I’ll make it short! I graduated from St Martins College (performance design). After graduation I worked in theatre as designer for costumes and set, designed and organised theatrical events and fashion shows. Later I worked with technological companies helping them implement their new technologies into fashion and costume, created costumes which could react to light, sound, water, change images etc. I exhibited them in various galleries and exhibitions, later developed 3d holograms on leather in partnership with a company, started creating bags with the new prints and fell in love with the leather art and handbag design – decided to focus on this from then on.

How long has Kzeniya London been present in the global fashion market? 
I started end of 2010, but it took me quite a long time to find the right suppliers, factories etc. so SS13 collection is my third collection.

What was the fashionistas' and fashion press's responses like during its debut? 
I didn’t have a launch, I started very cautiously, at first learned how to make bags, experimented with different techniques, made a few styles listened to the feedback, tried to develop. I started approaching celebrities very early almost from the start and their feedback really helped me as well. I made a few customised pieces for celebrities, realised what they liked and that helped me to develop some designs for clutches that are still among the top sellers of the brand. The feedback was always very positive and press supported the brand from very early on and now we have features coming out daily, so I’m very excited.

Any young and emerging fashion designers would kill for a working opportunity with the late Lee McQueen. Mind sharing with me your working experience with the avant-garde fashion maestro of our time?  
I was always and still am a huge fan of his work. I like dramatic and theatrical approach and the brand really appeals to me, so obviously I was very excited when they invited me to work with them. The experience was very inspiring, but tense, we all worked very hard!

What inspired you to create your own fashion accessories label? 
I just feel happy making bags, I love the fact that it’s a 3D object and I can play with the shape and experiment.

What's with the angular silhouette that's omnipresent in your current collection? 
I guess it’s my aesthetic, I love making dramatic things which evoke emotion. Angular silhouette make it look sharp, powerful, strong, make person carrying it feel more confident. 

The bracelet clutch (left) garnered my immediate attention as soon as I see it. What's the story behind it? 
It’s been a very popular piece; we’ve made hundreds of variations in different colours and shapes. Whenever you go out, dancing, party you always have to remember about your bag, hold it, it’s uncomfortable… it always bothered me. I decided to make a small bag that you could just put on your wrist, like a bracelet and not worry about holding it because it would be attached to your hand, something that wouldn’t look ridiculous, but stylish and kind of blend in with the hand.

I am fascinated by the use of vegetable-tanned leathers in your collection. Where do you obtain  the raw materials and how long does it take - in working hours - to create one bag? 
The leathers are sourced from Italy and UK and we do all the engraved patterns in London. There are many stages to the process usually production takes 3 months, after that we receive the bags from Italy and hand apply all the details in our studio in London.

As you can see, there is a strong competition in the global fashion accessories industry and how does Kzeniya accessories stand out from the rest of its competitors? 
To me a lot of the bags in the market are very samey, I am trying to do something different and I guess that’s why the brand stands out. All the details are customised, I don’t use any ‘off the shelf’ materials not event studs, not even metal accessories everything is custom made. Keeping in mind the top quality and customised details, we try to keep the bags affordable.

Standalone collections aside, have you collaborated with other fashion designers so far? 

If given a chance, with whom (fashion designer) would you like to collaborate on, say, a capsule collection?
I would be interested in collaborating with shoe designers and jewellery brands, as some of embellishment is very much inspired by jewellery.

Do you create made-to-order pieces as well? 
We customise all the details, so most of our retailers have unique, exclusive pieces.

Jennifer Lopez was spotted clutching one of your creations recently. Did it create an instant hype among fashionistas on Kzeniya as the accessory label 'du jour'? 
Yes, it was very exciting and surprising. We lend and make so many pieces for celebrities, that I wasn’t even aware of it. I received a call from a friend telling me that she saw a picture of Jennifer Lopez with one of our clutches in a newspaper, within a week the picture appeared almost in all newspapers and magazines in UK, including the cover of Grazia. Of course it attracted a lot of attention from clients and retailers as well!

Most fashion designers tend to rely on celebrities in order to get their collections moving (or selling). As for Kzeniya, does the brand solely rely on the power of celebrities in ensuring the constant lifespan of the brand? 
Of course it is important and I feel extremely happy that the brand has been so popular among celebrities. But of course the brand does not solely rely on this. It is very important that pieces sell at the shops, and I am extremely grateful to all the people who buy and enjoy our bags!

And of late, many designers are working closely with mass retailers in order to reach diverse demographics. For instance, Prabal Gurung created a capsule line for Target US and recently, Maison Martin Margiiela's collection for H&M has created such a huge frenzy worldwide. What's your two-cents worth on this trend? 
I think it’s a great way to reach diverse demographics for big brands. As for my brand, I’d like to keep it exclusive and I don’t think I could compromise on the quality.

Besides handbags, does your future plan includes expanding the line into ready-to-wear or shoes?  Definitely, but I don’t want to rush into it. I am thinking of expanding in a few years’ time into other accessories – scarves, jewellery and shoes. 

Kzeniya London's Spring/Summer '13 accessories are available now at selected retailers worldwide. The collection is also available online at Kzeniya London's website as well as at

*Photos courtesy of Kzeniya London


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