Kateryna Karmachova is a graduate of the famous fashion school Studio Berçot in Paris. Kateryna has worked as a fashion illustrator for several French designers, including Robert Normand, and for the Peclers Paris trend agency. She has also worked on photoshoots with stylist Charles Varenne for Numero magazine and as an accessories designer for Rue du Mail by Martine Sitbon.
After launching her fashion brand in Paris, Kateryna is best known today for her distinctive accessories, such as transformable handbags. Karmachova’s work has been featured for three seasons at the Tuileries ‘Premiere Classe’ in Paris, and is sold internationally in France, Japan and Ukraine.
Part of her bag designing process involves learning about the origins of materials used to finalize her creations. Having traveled extensively across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Karmachova has discovered the artistry of her bag designs through different cultures and ideals.
I sat down with Kateryna to discover what it takes to be a successful accessory leather goods designer, and to explore her journey in the Paris fashion industry.
Iain: How do you create a design concept from scratch?
Kateryna: Actually, [if] it’s a concept that appeared before, then I make a sketch that usually could be improved and developed by additional factors such as production, leather and color choice… or maybe [what side of the bed] I wake up on in the morning.
Iain: What styles inspire your shoe and bag designs?
Kateryna: Sometimes conceptual, innovative styles inspire me, with strong ideas. Other times, perhaps simple designs with nice proportions. This is something that I can’t describe, but I feel it. I am passionate about surrealism and ‘l’annees follies’ as well as new technology with thought-provoking ideas such as ‘cuisine moleculair’ and futuristic lifestyles.
Iain: What is the fashion industry like in Paris?
Kateryna: For me, the concept of fashion in Paris is to make passionate illusions, and encourage people to desire them. In the mean time, to be able to adapt French fashion traditions with a strong dose of personal relationships is important in this industry. From this you can create something illusive and credible. Vive la France!
Iain: What do you want to achieve with your brand?
Kateryna: I wish to feel that people are sharing my vision and see that my creations inspire them to transform their inner ideas into something new. I want my bags to be transformable in their design and mood, because, as in life, nothing remains constant. A design speaks a thousand words and when we try to find its meaning, it transforms itself and becomes something reformed. My creations pursue this concept of accompanying our ever-evolving lives, moods and spirits.
Iain: Which fashion designer brands do you look up to?
Kateryna: I look up to Maison Martin Margiela because of their conceptual and intellectual designs. Their creations are genius as they are truly unique through simplicity. Comme des Garçon (Junya Watanabe) is also one of my favorite brands, because their designs are completely crazy works of art. Balenciaga is very intriguing for me because their fashion ideas are clear-cut, expressive and elegant.
Iain: If you could work with anyone who would it be?
Kateryna: Copy and paste the previous answer!
Iain: Do you have any advice for people looking to break into fashion and start their own brand?
Kateryna: You need to gain experience from somebody who already made their own brand successful. Develop your own ideas and ask professionals to help you make your dreams come true.
Iain: Any thoughts on the fashion seasons?
Kateryna: At the London Fashion week I liked Sass & Bide with its neon and white, luxe details. And during the Milan Fashion week, I would say the Whitewash geometric set of Jil Sander was clear-cut, clean; a mixed fabric, which I like a lot.
Iain: What about the Paris Fashion week?
Kateryna: I am looking forward to seeing the Maison Martin Margiela runway, Alexander McQueen, Rick Owens and Ann Demeulemeester, if I get in.
Iain: What’s next?
Kateryna: Start a new life? (Kateryna smiles) I am looking to collaborate with fashion houses and designers to share my passion for fashion, develop my own designs in a Paris with art expos, performances, ballet and love.