1. Tell us about your career progression - where you studied/trained, where you worked, who influenced you.
I studied my undergrad with Klio at University of Arts in London. We have met then and are friends for more than ten years now. We both studied spatial design and then I continued on with my grad degree of Urban Planning. I majored in sustainable architecture and systems and I suppose it is then that my wider interest in sustainability began. I learned much more about it applied to architecture and cities, while I had the privilege to work for Sir John McAslan & Partners. I also got more personal experience, while working independently on a big leisure project, with leading hotel brands and world top development team.
Being exposed to a number off top world architectural projects, I have learned a lot about sustainable practices and materials. However I came to realize that in most of the areas of sustainable practices, the choices are never very obvious, out there, still require a lot of research, especially the newest things on the market. Ideas started rolling in this direction and not long after Klio and I were researching about eco materials. Initially all kind of materials, but further in we decided to concentrate on the soft materials and textiles. Something that we both appreciated since young age and something we could apply our sustainability knowledge at ease. That’s how the company idea came to life.
About my personal background I can add that my grandfather was quite a big name in architecture in pre and post revolution Russia, so my family paid a lot of attention to my artistic education. I went to art schools, including the famous watercolor academy of S.Andriyaka, did sculpture and my favorite - batik, a kind of painting on textile. I also remember myself having endless notebooks drawing fashion designs, when I was a child. Unfortunately none of them were saved – but who knows perhaps I could draw some inspiration now from a younger me!
After finishing high school in Athens, I left to London where I studied Interior & Spatial Architecture at Chelsea College of Arts. It was an unforgettable experience as I got exposed to the best talents and teachers in the industry. The course basically taught me to how to think and design, how to understand spaces, see how people feel in them and observe. I worked in architecture & fashion for two years, travelled in many countries around the world and decided to come to New York where I am still based. In New York I came six years ago to gain a masters degree in Environmental Planning and Sustainability at the Pratt Institute. That was the time where my world expanded!
It wasn’t until 3 years ago when we decided to start something with Anastasia. We were both working for architectural firms at the time. We had always shared a mutual passion about creativity and had worked together in the past. There was always an understanding with Anastasia, a respect and most of all a friendship. Many people have influenced my path, I am lucky enough to be very receptive and take others opinions quite seriously.
We choose our materials based to sustainability, warmth, feel and texture. We are very proud because we have found a source for both peace and raw silk.
2. Your work involves choosing unique fabrics and a handmade traditional tailoring. - classic styles, much loved - and subverting what's expected. Tell us about how you developed your unique aesthetic.
Aperse means ‘a thing or a person of unique qualities’. This defines the brand aesthetic and our approach to design.
Firstly we choose our materials according to the ecological aspects of sourcing and production, secondly we sample the textile and select the best product form for it, a particular knit or weave. Then materials are dyed or printed. In some cases left untreated in order to preserve the yarns. That way we can guarantee that an item achieves its best potential in terms of quality and remains natural.
Tailoring and finishing is something very important to us too as we want our pieces to remain timeless and durable. At the same time we experiment with ways of finishing, which can add an interesting detail to the garment and uplift it in a contemporary way. All our pieces are finished by hand or on hand operated machines, in some cases using very traditional artisan techniques.
The different between a well produced and a luxury item is in details. We aspire to carefully select natural materials and top quality finishing.
We choose our materials based to sustainability, warmth, feel and texture. We are very proud because we have found a source for both peace and raw silk. Basically, peace silk allows the worms to live their entire cycle happily instead of commercial silk where live silkworms are boiled. We also work with incredible artisans from Nepal and Spain who use traditional handloom techniques and applique beading. We buy the yak wool from nomads in Mongolia in natural colors and depending on what is available at the time we order. Then the wool, which is literally bought by the kilo, gets sent to Ulaanbaatar where it’s weaved traditionally. The procedure with the cashmere is very similar with the yak, although cashmere can be naturally dyed and blended with silk or wool. We utilize a slow fashion protocol in terms of production and do not harm any animal or the environment.
3.Your work is very personal and not so related to trends and on what’s going in the fashion industry- do you see yourself as a designer or more as an artist?
I see myself as a creator of beautiful, quality wearable pieces.
We collaborate with artists, illustrators and we design ourselves. We enjoy the process and we have the knowledge. Not originating from the fashion background, but from artistic and architectural one, we approach design in a slightly different way. We base our palettes and motives on the current color and patterns trends. But design doesn’t start from a shape, but evolves into it, through research, choice of materials and its treatment and aesthetics.
I think of myself as a designer. I love being part of a team of talented people. I love learning from others and although I do not come from a fashion background per se, I am very eager to learn. About trends: Anastasia and I never miss the big expos about trends and colors for the next seasons. We also go to new materials exhibitions quite often. Last time we discovered a fabric made from mushrooms. We were so excited about it, immediately introduced ourselves to the factory owner and learnt everything about it. Its fun!
Our SS17 Collection is inspired by our combined travels to tropical destinations, the style and elegance of colonial living.
4. Icons, places or activities that may inspire you for your next collections.
Our SS17 Collection is inspired by our combined travels to tropical destinations, the style and elegance of colonial living. I covered a lot of Asia and Middle East, while Klio has been to multiple locations in South America and we both love the Caribbean. The nature of those places, the vivid colors, the shapes, the day to night transitions, the tastes and the way we wanted to dress while on those trips – all contributed to the next Tropical Collection.
Generally speaking we are always inspired by the nature and art around us. Current collection is for example inspired and resembles to the forest colors and textures. Next AW17/18 Collection is under development, but is shaping beautifully around winter nature and abstract art. We will have to chat to you about it soon not to reveal too much as yet!
We pay utmost attention to their natural sourcing and preservation, which means that some can only remain in natural colors, some can be dyed using vegetable and eco dyes and some are printed with non-toxic non-chemical inks. So ultimately our choice of materials pre-defies our choice of colors.
5.How can an APERSE piece elevate over time your wardrobe?
Aperse pieces are timeless. At least we try to create them that way. I think I can speak for both of us, if I say that our ultimate satisfaction would be if Aperse creations were passed on through generations in a particular family of a woman who purchases one or more.
Art prints are timeless as art always is, even if it is presented in a wearable way. Textiles are of top quality. Sometimes-fragile due to natural structure, however, durable. Outerwear is designed with modernized classics in mind. Soft accessories are always convenient no matter what season or city. So each piece can elevate your wardrobe in a different way – as a durable item, as an investment, as a beautiful color or print to keep and cherish.
An Aperse piece is an investment piece. Something that I will have in my wardrobe for a long time and that will surely be passed to a future generation. There is a great attention of detail in the making of our pieces and we try to design them as timeless and season-less as possible.
6.You use color and print in an interesting way - how would you describe your designs?
Coming from architectural and artistic background – use of colors and our choice of prints is very important for us. We partner with 2-3 artists and photographers each season and choose print works according to our seasonal palette and theme. So far we have been very lucky to work with very talented rising stars of the art world. We also find that interesting creations arise when a few artists interact or collaborate on one project.
Our colors also correspond to our chosen palette of the season. The starting point for every collection is our materials. We pay utmost attention to their natural sourcing and preservation, which means that some can only remain in natural colors, some can be dyed using vegetable and eco dyes and some are printed with non-toxic non-chemical inks. So ultimately our choice of materials pre-defies our choice of colors.
7.What kind of girl/woman do you like to dress?
I would like to dress an ageless woman. Some young in age, some - young at heart. Intelligent, busy with what she enjoys in life. Someone who finds joy in travel, art and appreciates nature. Always elegant, whether in a classic or modern way. A woman who buys with a sense, understanding the value, not impulsively. A woman, who is caring and cares. The kind I used to admire, when I was growing up myself – charming and always making an impression, whether in an embroidered gown or a beach pareo.
A smart, independent and ageless woman. A woman who effortlessly looks stylish in a white T!
8.What are your plans for the business over the coming few years - what areas do you hope to grow and develop?
We would like to establish ourselves in Europe and US and expand to the Middle East and some parts of Asia. We would like to perfect our quality, expand our artistic approach and and perhaps create a signature-weaving technique. Our goal is to be represented in places with great selections of luxury exceptional brands, boutique hotels, and travel destinations. And ultimately open a flagship store, which we will design ourselves to showcase our creations in an ideal setting and create a space for artistic collaborations and exchange.