“It became fashionable and honorable to wear products with “Made in Russia” labels,” Igor Gulyaev told us during our phone interview in mid-July. We had met about twelve years ago when he was professionally involved in the fur business, based in St. Petersburg and collaborating with international brands that established him.
Restless and creative, a citizen of the world with an unpredictable Russian temperament, Igor also became involved in design in the years that followed. In 2009, he founded the IGOR GULYAEV FASHION HOUSE and a few months later presented his first fur collection under his own label in St. Petersburg and then in Moscow and the USA. The first IGOR GULYAEV flagship store was now a fact! It opened its doors to the public in 2013 at 10 Nikolskaya Street, a pedestrian walkway in the center of Moscow’s luxury shopping district. This now operates as a show room and fashion house has a new boutique at 20/1 Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street.
He had a faithful following. Today, he has more than a million followers on social media while international celebrities bow to his talent and select his creations. Among them are Goldie Hawn, Kanye West, Fred Durst, Ornella Muti, Montserrat Caballé, and Lara Fabian, in addition to many Russians like musical performer Alla Pugacheva, pop singer Philipp Kirkorov, opera tenor Nikolay Baskov, singer Natasha Korolyova, and singer-cum-model Valeriya. Now, the IGOR GULYAEV FASHION HOUSE produces not only couture lines, but also prêt-à-porter and prêt-à-porter deluxe. The Igor Gulyaev for Men, Igor Gulyaev for Home, and Igor Gulyaev for Kids lines have also been launched.
What made you change your career and decide to get involved with design?
I made my first garment at the age of 14. We lived in the Soviet era, nothing fashionable was sold then, and we wanted to wear something beautiful and creative. We had our own musical “gang” of music college students, we organized a disco, and I created the first images for myself and my friends for these parties. People paid attention to us: we were not like everyone else. There were also questions: where we got the clothes and whether it was possible to buy them. At first, I hid my tailoring passion, then I started taking orders and got my first salary due to this. At the age of 16, I organized my own small firm, created clothes and had quite serious customers in our region. After leaving my parents’ home and arriving in St. Petersburg to study, I thought that making clothes would remain a hobby, but I was a young father and needed to support my family. I began sewing again to earn a living. I don’t like to sit still; I constantly develop and look for new opportunities. Today, the IGOR GULYAEV brand clothes are worn in different parts of the world, and I am infinitely happy about still being able to do my favorite job, which also provides me with an opportunity to earn money. This is happiness.
What does fashion mean to you?
I have an opportunity to make the world even more beautiful! Fashion means Everything to me!
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I do my favorite job; I feel comfortable with myself. The work provides me with real emotions, allowing me my livelihood and giving me an opportunity to create. I am surrounded by amazing, talented, and creative people. I travel all the time, see incredibly stylish people in the streets of Tokyo, Los Angeles, Rome, Antwerp, and they inspire me too.
Which designers have influenced you and determined your style?
I have no idols. I try not to deify anyone. There are people I admire: entrepreneurs, professionals, and successful people. In the world of fashion, I like extraordinary individuals. I like to guess whose product it is before I look at the label. After all, the designer’s style is like an artist’s style: no matter what colors you use, what’s important is how you brush the canvas. I can recognize the creations by John Galliano, Kris Van Assche, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, and Vivienne Westwood from a mile off. I like the Japanese and Belgians for creativity of thought, meticulous approach to details, and seeming simplicity.
Fur has always been a key element in your collections. What’s your opinion on the battle between Real Fur and Faux Fur?
Now the ‘80s and ‘90s are trendy, and in the ‘90s the faux fur coat was a “must have”, so faux fur has strengthened its market position greatly; besides, it is cheaper than natural fur, which is an important factor in difficult economic times. The IGOR GULYAEV FASHION HOUSE adheres to the trends, and so in our collections you will find products of both natural and faux fur. I have always been interested in working with natural fur—a very complex and noble material. My brand products made of natural fur can be even inherited!
How would you describe the Russian consumer of today?
Times change, preferences change, a new generation grows up. In my country, it became fashionable and honorable to wear products with “Made in Russia” labels. The new generation follows Russian designers; they have no stereotypes concerning fashionable clothes made exclusively by European designers. The Russians learned to play with fashion. Previously, it was believed that one looks fashionable only wearing first-line haute couture; now, the same first line of the world’s leading fashion houses can be easily mixed with mass market clothes. In the spirit of today, it looks avant-garde.
What style tips would you give to women?
Develop, do not stand still, experiment, and don’t try to look like someone else. Individuality is always attractive! Love and be loved – this is the main thing.
What are your stylistic obsessions?
I always stand for refinement, elegance, intelligence, and ability to move through life. In spirit, I feel very close to pre-revolutionary Russia—the times of Anna Karenina. A Woman must be a Woman!
How do you feel about the success of your brand?
We are developing. We are opening new boutiques all over the world. We are entering the Asian market. We are launching new lines. Now, the IGOR GULYAEV FASHION HOUSE produces not only couture lines, but also prêt-à-porter, prêt-à-porter deluxe. We have launched the Igor Gulyaev for Men, Igor Gulyaev for Home, and Igor Gulyaev for Kids lines. I am very pleased with the fact that many large manufacturers are interested in my work and have offered me the opportunity to become an invited designer. I’m happy!
What are your suggestions for this winter?
Buy fashionable things! If it is a fur coat, it must be bright, unusually cut, and conspicuous! The IGOR GULYAEV FASHION HOUSE offers unconventional solutions: texture mixing, juicy colors, and patchwork. Here, you will find everything! Don’t forget: the fur garment should warm not only the body, but also the soul.