A well knitted fashion story: interview with the designer Ekaterina Kukhareva
A little bit of romanticism, a pinch of feminism, a dash of drama: the new collection of Ukrainian knitwear designer Ekaterina Kukhareva is just perfect for the next season. And that is not just because the ruffles, the dramatic sleeves and the beautiful shades of olive green, blue and pink make Ekaterina’s designs so romantic, but also because the fabrics, a unique combination of interwoven sparkling lurex and sheer chiffon and some featuring Swarovski crystals – super dramatic and feminine – caught my eye in a second. And, of course, the eye of every viewer at Fashion Weeks, from London to Paris.
Look at Ekaterina designs, at http://www.kukhareva.com.
The stores selling your designs are… Here in the UK my own studio is always open to my customers (http://www.kukhareva.com), you will find a selection at Baar and Bass boutique on Kings Road and Wolf&Badger online. Abroad, we lucky enough to be stocked by S*auce and Urbanist in Dubai, Etre and Blossom in Riyadh, Vakko in Istanbul, Aishti in Beirut to name just a few.
Ekaterina launched her knitwear label in 2009 after graduating Central Saint Martins in London with a BA in Textiles and went on to work for Temperley London. Each collection comprises of different patterns which are a signature and the DNA of the brand, colours, textures and yarn combinations. Coming from a textile background and being trained as a technician on the industrial knitting machine STOLL, Ekaterina has a freedom of experimenting with the fabric design. I talked with Ukrainian designer Ekaterina Kukhareva about the knitwear business challenges, inspiration and a dress that took her 80 hours of work.
Why did you choose knitwear? Isn’t it more difficult to work with that than with usual fabrics?
Growing up in Ukraine, knitwear was always a part of my everyday wardrobe and, having experimented with various techniques while I was still in university I had just found my calling! It is not knitwear as you know it – it is essentially fabrics that are just knitted, some of my textiles are so fine and sheer that they look like organza, chiffon and even lace. Yes, there are certain limitations to what you can do with it, but with a bit of experimentation, imagination and perseverance you can do anything with knitwear – from après-ski to evening wear. And because I have my own production facilities it is much easier for me to work than with usual fabrics, which you have to source from third parties.
How did the story of your brand start?
While still studying and having interned for Alice Temperley, I realised that I didn’t just want to design, I wanted to create. So I pursued further technical and specialised training in knitwear design and became qualified technician with an industrial machine in my possession. So it was only natural that I tested my skills out on my own brand as ultimately that’s where I wanted to be!
How much is inspiration, how much is technique, how much is just hard work, every day in a collection?
I would love to say that inspiration is everything, but the reality is it is probably equal parts inspiration, technique and really hard work. Sometimes inspiration is limited by the technique, but if you work hard enough you figure out ways, often new and exciting ways of how to overcome these obstacle and new ways of achieving what you want and need for the collection.
How long does it takes to make a dress in your way (compilation of hand worked macramé, crochet, fringing and knotting…)
I have not used any complicated macrame and crochet in my latest collections, but one archived piece took about 80 hours which was one of my most complicated designs. But on average I would say it can take anywhere between 8-20 hours per dress.
What is the most complicated part of putting a collection together?
To not get carried away!!! Once I decide on basic patterns for the season I am very disciplined when it comes to designing and drawing the collection on paper. But it is a completely different story when I am in the atelier, making actual fabric and samples, as I always want to try new things, add more layers and colour combinations!
What was the inspiration point for AW1718 collection?
For the Autumn/Winter 17 season I wanted to experiment with different knitting techniques, especially ones which closely resemble lace, in its patterns and overall look. So, with a bit of research and experimentation I got my inspiration from Ophelia’s character in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. I created a contemporary wardrobe for Ophelia’s character, if you will, but with a bit of edge and a feminist outlook.
Ekaterina Kukhareva, for short… Unique, daring, confident and classy, but edgy.
Your favourite fashion period in the history is… 60’s the fashion was so daring and fun.
The most awful trend in fashion is… wedge sneakers.
The signature piece of your every collection would be… Carmella Dress – simple cut V-neck top, long sleeve and full skirt.
The most inspirational city in the entire world is… Paris.
The most memorable personal fashion moment is… Marie Claire magazine Cover featuring Kylie and Kendall Jenner in my designs.