One of Russia’s internationally acclaimed fashion designers Igor Gulyaev’s collections are sought after by dignitaries and celebrities alike. His designs have been spotted on the likes of Whitney Houston and Goldie Hawn. During his recent visit to Dubai, Aviamost Russian met and spoke to the extremely talented and charismatic maestro to discover the magic behind his stunning creations…
Did you always want to be a fashion designer or is it a passion that grew with time?
My parents put me in music school at an early age and my world revolved around only music and nothing else for many years. I remember myself at a young age when I was around three to four years or so, of dreaming to perform music on stage. Later I contemplated entering films, but I never thought that I would enter the world of fashion.
In college, I was, of course a dandy and so I had to stand out. I do not know if you recall: in Soviet times there was nothing much, and so I began to create ensembles for myself and for my friends. However I did not think for once that it would develop into a full time profession.
I clearly remember my first product - a shirt. I told my friends that I brought it from Moscow. Those who discovered that I had stitched it myself immediately requested one for themselves. At first I started to make designs for my friends, then parents of my friends and slowly the circle enlarged. Soon it was not just a hobby, but also earned me a nice income which was most welcome as I was still a student.
Your name is also much associated with fur collections.
Upon arrival in St. Petersburg, I thought that fashion and sewing will go by the wayside. I had a child and began restructuring as it was necessary to support a family. I started to sew clothes in small batches for sale, only to make money. In parallel, as a university graduate, I went to work abroad, where life pushed me into working with a few fashion companies. I was invited to work in a company that is engaged in the fur industry.
And where exactly did you work abroad?
In Greece, Bulgaria, Italy. I started working in the fur industry and did not part with it for 18 years. It is in this area that I began to engage seriously in fashion to prove to myself and to the world that there are talented people in Russia.
I presented a beautiful silhouette which accentuated the waist. The "Igor Gulyaev" fashion house produces fur products that meet the most stringent international standards. Our brand is known throughout the world, and I am immensely pleased.
You have collaborated with Guy Laroche...
Yes, that is a story from my career, when my designs featured the words: Guy Laroche Furs by Igor Gulyaev. It was something I never even dreamed of about as a child! I already knew this company, because my mom used the perfume. For many years I've been doing a collection for Guy Laroche, for several gala shows, which were presented in Hong Kong.
As soon as I felt my true calling and creativity in my homeland, God pushed me to action, and I said to myself: "Walk! Take yourself in hand and begin to build your own career!"
So I came to Russia, assembled a team and registered the brand. October 25, 2009, we presented my first collection at the Fashion Week in St. Petersburg. Over the years we have released a children's clothing line, evening clothing line and we offer dresses matching the highest class.
In addition to its top-class quality what is the reason women in Russia as well as abroad choose the "Igor Gulyaev" brand?
Because my clothes exude femininity! And I am very proud that mine is an original brand from Russia. Products from our house are of very high quality which can be turned inside out as the inside of each piece looks just as beautiful and exquisite as it is on the outside. Also, my fashion brand never repeats products: if we make a dress, the next one will be created with some modifications. I do not want people wearing similar designs made by my brand to come across one another and end up feeling embarrassed and awkward. I would like each wearer to feel unique and special. The "Igor Gulyaev" brand symbolises exquisite clothes where everything is feminine and elegant. In my label’s dresses one can sense the aristocracy which was lost after the Revolution. My dream is to return to the fashion trends associated with Russia all those years ago.
I've always liked designing for women and I am opposed to unisex, which may be worn when you go out of town, or relax on a picnic. But when a woman comes into the limelight, or enters a restaurant, her presence should radiate a sensuality of its own which is charismatic.
Dubai is a city of diverse cultures and tastes. Are you planning to bring out anything specific for its multicultural populace?
It's a pleasure. In fact, we get a lot of orders from the Russians, Kazakh and others living in Dubai, Qatar and from Saudi Arabia. I would like to be represented in the UAE. I think it's only a matter of time.