If you had met Iva Ksenevich as a child and had to guess what she was going to be when she grew up, “milliner” would have been one of your top three guesses.
“Once, when I walked out for a promenade with my parents, they told me that they won’t go anywhere with me unless I wear something ‘normal’.” Not only was Iva fascinated by the act of dressing up, one of her favourite hobbies was making things by hand.
Iva was born in Belarus, but refuses to identify as a Russian milliner. “I am not. I believe my work and style are international. I have projects in Moscow as well as London, Paris, New York, Shanghai, Milan.”
It’s a bit of an irony that hats aren’t all that popular in Russia, but no matter. Her work may not be fully appreciated by most of her countrymen, but she is very well-received abroad.
Just this year, in fact, Iva was named one of the top 15 designers out of the 2,000 creatives that joined the Fashion Crowd Challenge in Shanghai. “Women in Shanghai like sparkly accessories, and also geometry is very popular. That is why my geometrical collection fit perfectly. I loved working with Asian models and my designed looked very well on them.”
Her fascinators have also graced the pages of Vogue and Elle, among others.
Iva has only been making hats for three years. She was introduced to hat-making on a visit to London. “Philip Treacy is one of the greatest artists – he has managed to lift up millinery to another level. His strongest point is that he is different, yet saves his style. I think it’s with his creations and photos from Royal Ascot that I fell in love with hat-making!”
Family was also a great influence on Iva’s aesthetic during her formative years. Her mother and grandmother were “quite extravagant” (her words) and very much liked hats, gloves, and bags. Iva grew up with three sisters: she is one of a set of triplets, and they have an older sister. Alice is very feminine, Zlata likes sporty and classics, and Elena, the eldest, is very classic. As for Iva: “I am a mixture – sometimes I like to dress up with a dress, a hat and heels, sometimes I feel very comfortable in street wear.”
Inspiration, she firmly believes, comes from everywhere. (“I don’t really understand how one can run out of ideas!”) Her work is the product of classical styles, museums, and lately, nature and architecture.
“My favourite pieces are those that made me think and try new techniques. You will never forget the process of creating them. After, when you see an elegant lady wearing it, it is a burst of beauty and satisfaction.”
You may also want to take a look at an interview we had with Jill Humphries, one of Australia’s best talents in fine millinery.
Iva’s quotes were edited a little for clarity and brevity.