Customer turns Designer

Ulyana Sergeenko wearing her own design.  WSJ
Ulyana Sergeenko wearing her own design. WSJ

It is rare when one who loves designer clothes is able to pull off going from top couture house client to designer, offering her own haute couture line of $30,000 dresses and $80,000 coats. Ulyana Sergeenko has done just that. Ms. Sergeenko caught the attention of fashion photographers a few years ago when attending runway shows wearing her own creative designs. Although she has no formal training, she made her own clothes under the adoring eye of her grandmother (her babushka) growing up in Soviet Kazakhstan.

2014 Fall Collection
2014 Fall Collection

Cabbage rose prints, a symbol of grandma-style flowers, are often included in her designs. Ulyana’s collections are inspired by fashions from former Soviet Union satellite countries, fantasies from her childhood, and old-world techniques carefully researched by her and her partner. Her collections are noted for their difficulty and attention to proportion.

Fall 2014  KGB inspiration
Fall 2014 KGB inspiration

Ms. Sergeenko’s husband is billionaire head of Russia’s largest insurance company. The couple has two small children but this is not just a little hobby for Ulyana. She and her partner, Frol Burimskiy search out the villages that make the finest embroideries or the best enamels and then send their studio staff out to work with the local artisans. During the Soviet era, wives of party members went to private ateliers to buy their clothes. Ms. Sergeenko and her partner want to preserve this history of unique designs, beautifully executed.

Fall 2014
Fall 2014

It all began with Ulyana creating unique looks for her own wear. Then she encountered super-model Natalia Vodianova at a party. Natalia complimented her on her dress and subsequently made introductions to the right people in Paris. One of those was Alex de Betak; industry show producer. He found her modest high necklines and long skirts refreshing compared to recent loud, over the top Russian designs. Betek’s stamp of approval has enabled Ulyana to participate in the Paris runway shows since 2012.

Fall 2014
Fall 2014

The Ulyana Sergeenko line is not available in stores but clients are measured and orders taken direct from her atelier.

Fall 2014   A grand entrance.
Fall 2014 A grand entrance.

Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga are among her famous clients.   At this point, her partner says they are at the break-even point in their business.   Key players in the fashion industry are encouraging the label to include handbags, sunglasses, fragrance and décor. I think we will see much more of this talented young designer.

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