A few weeks ago, you may have seen us hanging out at Fortnum and Mason with Aspinal of London. The quintessentially English luxury lifestyle brand, have teamed up with one of the most influential people in fashion, Olivia Palermo, to create this season’s latest for the lust-list. Well, we caught up with Mariya Dykalo, the Creative Director herself, to find out all about the new collection, what it’s really like working with Olivia Palermo and the brand’s plans for the future.
Tell us a bit about your fashion background?
Back home in Ukraine I studied for three years at a technical college, learning pattern cutting and fashion design. I then went on to graduate from Lviv National Academy, which I studied at for seven years, with a Masters in Art and Design. Soon after, I moved to England to improve my English at Chichester College, and whilst there, discovered an advert for an internship at Aspinal of London. I’ve applied and the rest, as they say, is history! I worked there for nine years, working my way up, was thrilled to be announced as Creative Director in 2013. SS15 is my third full collection for the brand.
How would you describe your own personal style?
In three words? Fun, colourful and polished. I love hats as well; it’s the best way to make a statement! Recently I bought a Helene Berman black hat with ears from Fenwick on Bond Street. I can’t stop wearing it!
What was the inspiration behind the new SS15 collection?
SS15 is all about colour; the kind of colour that lifts your mood and makes you happy. From raindrops to thunderclouds and rainbows, the collection celebrates everything about the English weather and the spring/summer season. To evoke this, I’ve used flashes of neon and metallic, dreamy watercolour prints and effortless silhouettes, re-working the classic and iconic Aspinal bags, with an updated edge. The main focus of the collection was to refine our best-selling silhouettes, whilst keeping our firm belief that Aspinal products should be designed to be loved for a lifetime.
Any favourite pieces from the new collection?
My favourite item from the new collection is the super practical monochrome Marylebone Tote. The new medium size comes with an optional cross body strap and interchangeable handles for the ultimate in covetable practicality – aka three bags in one! Another key design the tote boasts is its ‘tech-ready’ nature. This means that it comes with an optional tech pack, which charges your gadgets on the go. It’s like a portable office!
Wow! What a great idea! What was the inspiration behind the notion of a ‘tech-tote’?
The first Marylebone Tech Tote was launched in February 2014, in a beautiful combination of smooth black and textured black leather with the integrated juice pack (a power station). We created the bag with a special hidden pocket for the juice pack, which means you can charge it as you go about your normal day. It became an instant hit, so the following season we added it into our bestselling business bag for men, then this season into the new midi sized Marylebone. I am obsessed with my iPhone and get into a real panic when I am running out of battery. I never leave my house without one of my tech bags!
So what made you choose Olivia Palermo to collaborate with?
Olivia Palermo is an international style icon and I am so delighted we could design this limited edition bag together to support ADCAM (Asociación de Desarrollo, Comercio Alternativo y Microcrédito a non-profit international charity established in 2005, which sees all proceeds from sales go to the organisation in aid of a new school in Africa). When you think of women who really can make an outfit with their accessories, you think of Olivia Palermo. It was a match made in heaven!
How involved in the design process was she?
Olivia wanted to be as involved as she could with the design process. She is a total perfectionist, so we worked very closely on every aspect from choosing the leather, linings and hardware right down to how the bag opens and the interior pocket padding! She has a real attention to detail that came through in the end product. We had a lot of fun designing together.
There are only 30 of these bags being produced – who would you love to see carrying it?
These bags are collectors of beautiful things. They are for women who love unique handbags. The bag sold out instantly which meant we managed to raise nearly £30,000 for ADCAM, which will go towards building a new school in Africa.
Any designers you’d love to collaborate with?
I love working with creative people and it’s always such great fun to collaborate with new designers and give the Aspinal product a new twist, but finding the right pairing is tricky. I personally love Rupert Sanderson and Nicholas Kirkwood. It would be exciting to see what they would do to our bags as their shoes are so unique. Or one of my favourite apparel designers for colour and cut is Roksanda Ilincic – it would be incredible to create something together.
If you could expand beyond handbags, what would you love to design?
I would love to sometime in the future have our customers wearing head-to-toe Aspinal! Being able to come into one of our boutiques and find everything from eyewear, to shoes accessories and apparel. My training was in ready-to-wear so it would be a dream to create a full collection.
If you could have been the brains behind any iconic bag, which would it be?
There are so many to choose from! For me, I love vintage bags. They have so much attention to detail and incredible craftsmanship – timeless luxury.
Any iconic style muses?
Audrey Hepburn, Julie Christy, Catherine Deneuve
Find out what we got up to at the Aspinal of London event…