Inspired by a British sensibility, Russian-milliner Iva Ksenevich is intent on cultivating the next generation of well-dressed women.
How did you become involved in millinery? All best things happen by accident, and this was the case for me. Unexpectedly, I came to London and fell in love with the city, the people and their style. Hats were everywhere! In Russia, for example, if you see someone wearing proper millinery, they automatically stand out in the crowd. In London, it’s a natural thing. I was amazed. I found a millinery teacher in London, a royal milliner. She was over seventy years old, and used to say, “I’ve been making millinery since I was thirteen, and you know what? It’s never boring!” She was right.
What do you love about it compared to other facets of design? Millinery is a very powerful weapon in terms of style and fashion. A hat, like no other accessory, can make your look remarkable and unique. Everybody wears rings, necklaces, earrings, bags but hats are special. If a woman comes to wear millinery, it is a different level of style. For me, millinery pieces are little creations, wearable art, emotions and excitement. For some reason, men just love women in hats.
What three elements do you feel are needed to create an amazing headpiece? Order. Movement. Chaos.
How do you think your culture heritage contributes to your design aesthetic? Originally, I’m from Belarus, at the moment, I’m based in Moscow. Shipping my pieces worldwide, I consider myself an international designer, studying millinery in London and Paris, inspired by the vibes of these cities. Frankly speaking, Slavic cultural heritage doesn’t really contributes to my designs. In Russia/Belarus, a hat is something more of a practical thing, to keep you warm in a super cold winter for example. Also, those Russian “kokoshnik” are too big and heavy looking. I prefer something more elegant. On the other hand, there are old black and white movies with vintage pillboxes and veils. It’s beautiful, my mother and grandmother wear those. But the layer of classy women in post-Soviet countries is unfortunately pretty thin.
What materials do you most like to work with? I experiment a lot with materials. Right now my favorites are:
1) Plastic net, it is very flexible and gives an amazing effect when you shape it properly. It has an air about it and at the same time builds up interesting forms.
2) All sorts of textiles. I am a very tactile person, and it’s not only about the look, but also about the touch. I choose finest materials such as artificial suede, leather, silk, wool, plush etc.
3) I like taking time decorating, adding details, sparkling accents. So the third one would be crystals. It’s not a problem to spend a day sewing those up to the piece the result is what matters.
What has been your crowning achievement thus far? Oh many, every day is a little achievement. If I had to choose one, I would say seeing my artworks travel the world and fit people from different countries and cultures. My hats are worn by celebrities, fashionistas and people who simply love millinery. I see their happy faces, their incredible styles, their positive emotions. That is what I consider my greatest achievement. — IvaKsenevich.com