– Bella, how exactly does your choreographic education and love for ballet help you in creating collections?
— My love for ballet is exactly the same driving force that inspired me to create the first collections. I admire the plasticity, grace, elegance, ease of movement of ballerinas. And in my clothes I always focus on femininity. It is important for me that the heroine of the Bella Potemkina collections be a real lady, a Goddess, a little defenseless, a little seductive, a little modest and a little daring. Different! Images of classical ballet: Carmen, Princess Aurora from The Sleeping Beauty, Odette from Swan Lake, Kitri from Don Quixote and many others – delight me! I rethink and embody the language of plasticity in silhouettes, fabrics, colors and textures.
– Many people say that your dresses are very solemn, not for every day: would you like to see them come to your boutique not on a “special occasion”, but so that everyday things look like this? Where, in your opinion, is the line between the solemnity of the outfit and its everyday life?
— Yes, the highlight of our collections, indeed, are puffy layered floor-length dresses for special occasions. However, both in the Bella Potemkina boutique and on our official website, you can see a lot of casual clothes: shorts, trousers, light sundresses, woolen sheath dresses, business blouses, kaftans and so on. Moreover, as a separate line we produce clothes for sports with our corporate logo (silhouette of a female profile) and the hashtag #Goddess. There are cruise collections… So you can choose an image for absolutely all occasions (Smiles).
And the line between the solemnity of the outfit and its everyday life is now almost erased and barely noticeable. One and the same dress can be worn both for prom and for a walk with friends – depending on what you combine it with. Velvet ankle boots and luxurious earrings – and you are the queen of the Red Carpet, oversized denim jacket embroidered with sequins, plus patent loafers – and you can go to the park in the same dress. Our boutiques employ stylists who help girls not to get confused in the variety of models presented and select a complete individual look!
— What inspired you when you first started your own business, and what has changed over time? Do you have a single muse?
– Initially, my motivation to move forward was an irresistible desire to make all the women around more beautiful. The market was oversaturated with cheap mass market, and I wanted to create something exclusive, unlike anything else. So there were uggs, embroidered with lace, vintage collars. When people ask me how I managed to achieve success in such a short time and attract the attention of my first clients, I answer that I was only sincerely approaching my work with a soul. And the same approach has remained to this day. People do feel it! When you put all of yourself into a cause, it will surely find a response in many hearts. And my main stimulus and my muse is my daughter Eva!
– You have been asked many times questions about “plagiarism” – they called the names of both Ulyana Sergienko and Dolce & Gabbana. Let’s put an end to this story – where do such accusations come from? Do you have detractors?
— Plagiarism is an eternal topic of controversy and speculation that accompanies the activities of any creative person. There were different comparisons, especially at the beginning of a career. But I will answer this way: it’s good when your collections are discussed, when certain parallels are drawn, when they praise and when they blame. It’s certainly better than indifference. In the fashion industry, we often trace the same motives to different designers. But this is not due to the fact that someone stole something from someone or brazenly quoted. No. There are trends, there are trends. Now, for example, the fashion of the 90s is returning to the catwalks. Therefore, let it not come as a surprise to you that jackets of the same style and skinny trousers will appear in many collections, like two drops of water similar to each other. This is just a tribute to fashion, trends and time. It was exactly the same with vintage style a few years ago, when it was at its peak… But no matter what is in trend today, prints, color palette, femininity of images and, of course, quality remain “branded” in my collections!
– How many percent of your wardrobe is occupied by things from your collections?
– Almost the entire wardrobe. I wear things from my own collections because I really like them, because they are really high quality, because I am in love with them! How else?
– Organizing your own business, for sure, was not easy: please tell us about what it is like for a young girl to raise her own business from scratch? What did you have to face? Who helped you?
— I started my career as a stylist and a buyer. She brought fashion brands, including Russian designers, to the regions and made them popular there. But certain life circumstances related to the birth of my daughter Eva and the divorce from my husband made me take a fresh look at myself. I decided to move to Moscow. At first, we lived with the baby together in a modest apartment, which we managed to buy with the money earned from the previous business. Every day I sent my daughter to kindergarten, and I closed myself on the balcony equipped as a creative workshop, and spent hours creating the first designer things with my own hands. This is how ugg boots embroidered with milky lace appeared, the first hand-made accessories made of beautiful silk fabrics, beads and sequins, collars stylized as the vintage era that was fashionable at that time. My heart told me that this is exactly what I need!
Gradually, the first clients appeared who began to order my accessories via the Internet, and every weekend I exhibited at craft markets in shopping centers. Of course, there were sleepless nights, and fingers punctured into the blood, but the result was worth it! It is extremely pleasant to receive a lively response, gratitude. My first customers recommended me to their friends, orders for tailoring of dresses began to arrive. I took a course in cutting and sewing and sewed my first models completely by myself. Business developed rapidly. It was necessary to recruit a team, because I could not physically create all models, collars, necklaces, bracelets alone. And so the BELLA POTEMKINA brand was born, which today has several hundred people in the state. Our production facilities operate in Moscow and in the regions. Branded boutiques are opening all over the country. There is no time to stop – I am for constant movement and always looking for new ways to develop the brand!
How is your typical working day structured?
— I usually start the day with a trip to the factory. I myself personally monitor how the work is technically carried out, I check the quality of the cut, paint, accessories. I am a perfectionist. It is important for me to control the process of creating clothes from and to. Then I head to our branded boutique, where I meet with clients, and also negotiate with partners. At least twice a week I organize meetings of the entire big Bella Potemkina team. We discuss plans, work on mistakes, set ourselves new tasks. Be sure to set aside a couple of hours a day to be alone, get creative, come up with new models and new ideas for business development. Often there are interviews, filming, events – this is also an integral part of the work. And if possible, I try to devote evenings and weekends to sports and communication with my daughter – this is sacred!
– Today in Russia there are a lot of good designers, but the way celebrities love you, they love very few – you can count on the fingers. What is the secret of such a close friendship with celebrities?
– Probably, the secret is in openness, friendly attitude. I always strive, first of all, to give something to people, sincerely and free of charge, and not to be a consumer. A lot of popular girls turn to me for advice and help before important events and shootings, and together we select the winning looks. I can say that during the existence of the Bella Potemkina brand, we became friends with Ksyusha Borodina, Olya BuzovaAlena Shishkova, Leroy Guy Germanicus, PelageyaOlesya Sudzilovskaya and many, many other beauties of our show business!
– In your dresses – emphatically feminine – sometimes very “unexpected” singers or actresses come out. Here, for example, “punk in the soul” –. How do you do it – make her wear dresses with bows?
— I like to reveal the femininity and beauty given by nature to every girl! We started working closely with Valeria Gai Germanika when she turned to me with a request to choose a wedding dress for her. The white puffy classic dress in this case was exotic, because in life Valeria chooses a completely different style (Smiles). True, we still emphasized the rock and roll of her image, preferring knee-length rather than floor-length. And as an accent, they chose a wide black belt. I prefer an individual approach – here the work of a designer is akin to the work of a psychologist. It is important for me to get to know the heroine better, to see her uniqueness, embodying the most striking features in an image that seems to be not characteristic of her at first glance.
— How do you choose the “face” of the next lookbook? Tell us about your impressions about working with Ksenia Borodina, Alena Shishkova? Is the choice of these particular girls connected, among other things, with the fact that they have an astronomical number of followers on Instagram*? Is it important for you to promote your brand on social media?
— For shooting in lookbooks, I choose girls who inspire me. They are an example of how one can realize oneself in the profession and in the personal sphere, an example of grace, an example of beauty, behind which there is a lot of work on oneself. I respect such girls and I want the heroines of my collections to be just like that. Or, at least, they tried to be the same, so that they were not afraid of change and were open to everything new in life. As for Instagram*, yes, if we drop all the lyrics and delve into business processes, a large number of subscribers is a significant bonus. I want to appeal to my audience as efficiently as possible, and I perfectly understand that many girls subscribe to the accounts of Ksenia Borodina and Alena Shishkova, who closely follow their style and listen to their fashion advice. This is the audience for which I create my collections and which in this way I can introduce the new products of the brand. Social media is a powerful marketing tool these days. I monitor my account very carefully, I strive to always be online, promptly informing subscribers about what is happening in the life of the brand and what my workdays are filled with.
– How did you meet? Are you friends with her after you met? What impression did she make on you? Which of your clothes does she wear?
– We were introduced to Paris Hilton by mutual friends when she came to play a DJ set in Moscow three years ago. I told her about my brand and invited her to our boutique. Paris kindly agreed to come, because the next day she had business scheduled in St. Petersburg, and she wanted to appear there in public in the style of “a la Rus”. We picked up Paris a few puffy skirts with floral print, one of which she attended the event. Now she often leaves pleasant comments under photos of things from new collections in my Instagram*. And we send her Bella Potemkina dresses and skirts as a present from Russia with love.
– Now very young girls are becoming very popular, as a rule, these are the daughters of celebrities. Stesha Malikova, Sonya Kiperman, Sasha Zhulina. You also work with some of them. Do you consider them future catwalk stars or trendsetters?
— Yes, I think that these girls have a great future. This is a new, completely unique generation of celebrity children who want to prove with their own work that they are talented and capable outside the context of their famous surnames. I happened to work with Alesya Kafelnikova, Sasha Zhulina, Sonya Kiperman. I can say that they all have a colossal capacity for work, strive for professional growth, eagerly absorb, like a sponge, the experience that our joint projects give them.
— What, in your opinion, is a must-have for every girl for the summer of 2016? Do you have the one and only favorite thing in your wardrobe?
This summer, the cult of hippie chic is in fashion. The basic thing in the wardrobe is a sundress with thin straps of midi or maxi length. This is a great alternative to a dress, creating a light and airy silhouette full of mystery, charm and casual sexuality. In my spring-summer collection, I offer weightless cotton sundresses with straps and bandeau bodices, as well as solid-color floor-length dresses with a simple cut with frills. These are versatile pieces that can be mixed with just about anything! I would recommend complementing the look with a rough denim jacket, “loaded” with bright hand embroidery, or a leather jacket. Russian-style sundresses also go well with French hats, and floor-length fitted dresses with leather backpacks. You can complete the look with sequined loafers or suede ankle boots.
What colors will be trendy this summer?
— In my spring-summer collection I offer three basic colors: white, blue, red and their various shades.
– Do you have an upper bar, what scale of success do you want to achieve? And what is the geography of this success?
— Of course, I want to bring the Bella Potemkina brand to the international level. Already now our geography is quite extensive – orders come from Dubai, from Miami, from Paris. We are opening new boutiques — just recently, solemn openings took place in Surgut and Almaty. In addition, I visit Milan Fashion Weeks every season and see how warmly they react to the looks from my collections. It’s nice! I want “Russianness” to become a fashion trend, for the Russian fashion industry to be on the same level as world brands, for us to emphasize our uniqueness and originality in every possible way. Perhaps this is my most important task, as a person and as a professional.