London's taste for the eclectic and avant-garde keeps it firmly at the frontiers of fashion - creating the perfect, fertile environment from which an abundance of new designers can emerge. The energy and diversity of the city has been a constant source of inspiration for generations of London-based designers and indeed, anyone interested in fashion, and this new series of STYLEist celebrates the amazing talents of the capital's up and coming style-setters.
Olya attended the Private School of Design and Fashion Modelling and the University of Design and Technology in Moscow. She moved to London from Moscow in 2007 to attend the BA Womenswear course at Central St Martins (CSM), after having run her own atelier - ŒSHI¹ - in Moscow in collaboration with her twin sister since 2001. She obtained the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust award during her second year at CSM. During her degree she had the opportunity to work for Erdem, Frost French and Michiko Koshino, where she was able to acquire valuable experience in preparation for the launch of her own label OLYA SHISHKINA.
Describe your brand
My designs are created for young, contemporary women who like to stand out and be individual. I love being experimental, particularly working with different fabrics like leather, metallics and sheepskin. I like to create items that will not only appeal to the playful individual, but also to the more fashion-forward thinkers.
How has London inspired you or your designs?
The creativity of London has always inspired me people, music, art, clothes You can get inspiration out of everyday life here. Combination of new and old, something amazing beautiful with something very ugly weird, magical places, maybe people who were born here don’t notice it or just get used to it. But for me it’s just an incredible feeling. There are so many extremely talented people around and a lot of competition, which just encourages me to work harder and aspire to create something distinct.
It was the juxtaposition of the ugly and the beautiful in London that inspired me to create my collection that was exhibited at AFW 10 where I used materials that are usually considered to be very tough and unattractive such as metallics and PVC to create fluid feminine forms.
Where do you hang out?
It doesn’t matter where I go, what matters is who you are with
I love East London, Favela Chic, Hoxton Bar & Grill, the White Cube Gallery. I love Latino, Samba - any music that let’s you move freely and forget your surroundings. I love the Roundhouse for live performances and Lounge lover for a casual cocktail with my friends.
What the worst outfit you have ever seen someone wearing on the tube?
When I see someone wearing something bad I just try not to remember it but I do remember something very funny... I saw a very old woman on the tube a few years ago in London. She was probably in her late 60s. She was wearing old worn-out tracksuit bottoms with stripes down the side, stretched knee marks and sports t-shirt. Round her neck was hanging a huge old portable radio, one like our grandmas used to have in their kitchens, which was connected to a pair of huge headphones that were on her head. These headphones had a pair of antennae coming out of them just like the old televisions used to have. All the people around her on the tube were sitting in silence with straight faces, no one was paying her any attention, however I was unable to hold my enjoyment of the whole scene, and I started to laugh quite loudly until tears started streaming down my face. I guess it was not very polite but I was unable to stop myself!
What was the first thing you designed?
It was in 1991 when we moved from Germany to Russia - the contrast of the post-communist country struck me - there was nothing in the shops and as soon as anything was to appear queues would form, sometimes people would even join a queue without knowing what was at the end of it. Everyone wore the same clothes and I remember that my twin sister and I would redesign our mother’s clothes that she had bought in Germany. I would say that those were our first creations, we were about 11-12 years old then and that is when I knew for the first time what I was going to do in the future - design clothes.
When I was finishing school, our mum did not have enough money to buy us dresses for our graduation ball, even if she did have the money, there were no dresses in the shops that we would have been able to choose from. Instead, my twin sister and I made our own dresses from some fabric that our mother had kept from 10 years ago. She was incredibly happy that it turned out to be useful after all those years!
They were short dresses on top of which long see-through dresses were put on. The long dress morphed into the short one - two in one - in those days we really stood out from the crowd. At our school we were always like two white crows amongst the black crows (Russian saying).
Which designers inspire you?
Madeleine Vionnet - one of the greatest dressmakers of her time, she inspired generations of designers. I am especially fascinated by her bias cut.
Where can we buy your clothes?
At the moment my clothes are not on sale, but I am working on it. I am planning to sell in London, Russia, Germany and Canada. Some of my clothes can be custom made by request from my website.