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Xsenia & Olya

Wednesday 15 February 2012

A welcomed addition to the Central St Martins alumni, Xsenia Runa and Olya Shishkin are hoping their prestige, designer graduate status propels them into the elites hall of fame, alongside, CSM duos previous (Meadham Kirchhoff, Leutton Postle etc.) with the launch of their premiere collection, ‘Staircase Wit’.In the wake of an ever pressing London Fashion Week appearance, Helen Turnbull checks in with the twosome.

There have been countless fashion friendships formed in the confines?of Central St. Martins – how was your time there? Tough but satisfying!  It was incredibly important to form close friendships, but also difficult not to, because of the long days/nights/weeks that we all spent in the studio working on our collections, so it’s always good to share a cup of late night coffee with someone – and a biscuit or two.


What does the X&O brand promise that previous graduate duos have?failed to recognise?? An element of surprise.We’re both quite different and we love the idea of morphing together two ideas that are not necessarily associated with each other. This is how we work to create our bold digital prints. Together with our experimental zero-waste pattern cutting technique it means that every pattern is unique, created from different geometrical forms.

Describe the overall and intended look of the ‘Staircase Wit’?collection. Take the image of a woman, descending the stairs, captured by Gerard Richter in one of his masterpieces: “L’Esprit d’Escalier”. Those stripes look like a constant trail, full of air and modern elegance, reminded us of waves in the sea. That’s why we decided to use our own pictures of jelly fish in the water on the prints of light silk, chiffon, jersey, organza and cotton. Clear silicon belts and accessories add to the image of the celestial sphere and fluidity of water, echoing the movements of the body.

Where does that name derive from? X&O actually stands for our initials, but we have now extended our brand name to our full names Xsenia & Olya.


You’re slowly but surely making your mark in editorial, what?publication would you most like to feature in? Another Magazine for it’s blend of fashion, beautiful photography and intelligent features. Also Dazed & Confused, and of course Vogue.


Prints are your speciality, where do you obtain your ideas for?these? We observe the beautiful organic images that we encounter in our everyday lives. Our SS12 collection was inspired by photographs that we took ourselves of the jelly-fish in the Vancouver aquarium! We were just mesmerized by the stunning visuals. We’re also very experimental and love morphing two things together. This was our concept for the AW12/13 collection where we fused knitting patterns and light to create unique knitting patterns that are unattainable in nature.


Which type of print is your favourite personally??The electric prints with bright piercing light patterns throughout – such as our Electric and Knitted-light prints from our AW12/13 collection.


When designing, do you have a particular customer in mind?? For the woman who has a hunger for life – she’s curious and open-minded, but wants to feel comfortable in her clothes to account for the limitless amount of possibilities that she can encounter in a single day.


Who would you most like to see sporting an X&O design??Natalia Vodianova, Natalie Portman & Marion Cotillard


London Fashion Week AW12 is imminent, who are you most looking forward to seeing?? Mary Katrantzou, another recent graduate from Central St Martins, and Christopher Kane, Giles Deacon. We love their creative way of fusing fabric, colour and print, so we can’t wait to see their next collections.

And beyond the crazy of fashion month, what are your 2012 plans? We’re exhibiting in ZipZone during Paris Fashion Week, then Vancouver Fashion week at the end of March and back to the drawing table to work on our SS13 concepts and prints!