Together, Olga Anderson (the designer behind bespoke fashion business Anderson House London) and half-Korean, half-Russian Yana Buzko (a multi-talented photographer, stylist and blogger) are a fashion dream team.
Although their perspectives are unique, their working relationship (which has now developed into a friendship) is based on mutual trust, shared visions and their loves of creative projects.
Exclusively for Nee Hao Magazine, the two have collaborated with the blogger Torn + Polished and talented makeup artist Candice Tompkins.
Olga, your creative process is not set in stone and tends to change every time, depending on the client. Tell us a bit about how your work takes shape.
Olga: I don’t have a specific creative process, as every client is different. I tailor the creative process, from the first encounter to the final fitting, to every woman I work with. Every drawing, fabric of choice and hem length, is all up to the client. Depending on the client, our creative process could sometimes start from a fabric instead of a drawing.
Some clients have a clear idea on the design and the material that they would like, while others just know that they want something, and it is up to me to take their thoughts and turn it into something tangible. I spend a lot of time in different fabric shops around London, looking through and touching different fabrics, and from there, I get many inspirations as to what to draw for the client. Some clients have a clear idea of the pattern and design that they want on the fabric, and so we will work closely with fabric manufactures to create that. It is important to me that the whole sequence of designing for a customer runs smoothly. This is because the client is the core priority in terms of my brand.
Yana and Olga, you are a ‘dream team’ of sorts. Tell us how you met and how your creative relationship developed from there.
Yana: We were introduced by a mutual acquaintance and it took off from there. Olga needed a photographer at the time, and after a shoot where someone else did the styling (which I didn’t think much of), I offered to be the stylist for our shoots from then on. It was an exciting challenge for me as I don’t consider myself a fashion person but I love clothes, and Olga’s pieces, of brilliant quality and excellent fabrics, were not what I would normally choose myself! However, I kept imagining how I would wear them, so it went from there. It made me think outside the box, but within my own style, taking into account colours, textures, shapes and mood. In return, I added new insights into how things could be worn, so Olga and I complete each other’s skills really well. Most importantly, our working relationship is now grounded in a solid friendship and we really trust each other.
Olga: As Yana mentioned, we were introduced through a mutual acquaintance, and that is how it took off. I really admire Yana’s work ethic and her creativity. When it comes to collaborating with someone in the creative field, it can sometimes prove difficult, even with the most professional people, if your creative views vary immensely. I have been very lucky to have met Yana, who understands my vision, and brings such out so beautifully in her photos!
Yana and Olga, tell us about your respective paths to your creative careers. How did you get there? What inspired you?
Olga: The women of Russia that surrounded me in my early life are one of my biggest inspirations. Growing up, I found that clothes in Soviet stores lacked authenticity and beauty, and so women took up skills to create beautiful clothes out of their own imagination. I watched my grandmother knit her own clothes, and her sister was extremely talented in embroidery. Our neighbour, who was a tailor, has never gone out of business. This is as women queue up to create beautiful, personal pieces! Even my mother was a seamstress, and so creativity and fabrics have, in a way, surrounded me all my life.
However, in a socialist state, where every member of the state is expected to be of value to society, my dream of being a fashion designer, or doing anything fashion-related was frowned upon. This is because such a path was not deemed practical or useful. And so, I went on to get my degrees, and work in a profession that I was not passionate about. A couple years ago, I decided to take a risk, and make a big career move by quitting my old job, and becoming a designer. This is my passion, and although it has been difficult road, I have never looked back.
Yana: I actually trained as a lawyer and a legal translator according to my family’s wishes, but my heart had been set on photography since I was 16 years of age. I tried every genre there was, starting with architectural photography and eventually ending up in editorial and fashion (which was my ultimate dream!). I completed a BA in Commercial Photography a couple of years ago and that really helped me see the commercial side of things, which (although is not very glamorous) made all the difference to how I shoot and present my photos. One massive influence was a photographer that I assisted for 3 years, Stuart Wood, from whom I learned not only the technical side, but how to interact with people, make them feel at ease and direct them. He is a brilliant example of professionalism and talent.
Yana, your styling and photography are very much intertwined. Tell us about how the two sets of skills complement each other and how working with Olga challenges you to create stunning and striking imagery.
Yana: I love a good statement! In clothing and accessories, I find statements in textures and colours, as well as in embellishments. To me, this is what catches people’s attention and makes an outfit memorable. Likewise, in photography, I focus on bringing forward the details, but an overall impression is very important as well – I like everything to be in harmony and complementary to each other. Colour is very important to me – I never work in black and white. I think there’s a lot of fun to be had with colour – and Olga agrees! She uses amazing colours and fabrics with lovely textures, which I love playing with and creating looks from. We learn a lot from each other.
Yana and Olga, tell us about your core principles in developing your careers in the creative industry. What matters the most to the both of you?
Yana: Professionalism! It’s a little hard to come by these days. Quite apart from having a vision or a talent and knowing how to bring it to life, it’s important to have a set of core values to complement that talent. Always being polite and friendly, knowing when to make a joke and when to keep quiet, knowing what to recommend and when, letting clients know realistic aspects of a shoot and timeframes, keeping promises and being efficient – all of these are at the core of how I work. Being flexible and understanding is also important; a shoot is always a fast-forwarded relationship with a client (it’s not just about money and the products changing hands).
Olga: I would have to agree with Yana, professionalism is definitely important. I also believe in being dynamic and adaptable. The creative industry is moving at such a fast pace, and if I am reluctant towards change, I would not be able to keep up. Being adaptable is vital in my work as if I have to be willingly to adapt and change according to my different clients to cater to their unique style and personality. My clients’ satisfaction is the core purpose of my business and it is the essential part in developing my career in this industry.
Olga, what makes your brand distinctive? How do you set your vision apart from others?
Olga: My brand is different from others as every piece is made to cater to each client’s personal taste. I consider their personality and lifestyle and attempt to create pieces that will show their unique personal style and are multifunctional. I pay a lot of attention to the detail and quality of each piece. My goal is to create something that would fit my client well, make her feel good about herself and be something unique that only she would own. I am very much committed to my clients, and listen carefully to their input throughout the process of creating a piece.
Yana, tell us how you came up with styling these looks.
Yana: With the dress suit, it was all about the colours – I wanted to play around them. They reminded me of the 60s, and so I thought I’d do a modern interpretation: something soft, fun and feminine. With the tweed jacket, it was a tad trickier because it’s such a popular item, so I wanted to do something different! I spiced it up and added high-shine leggings and killer heels, but also played with textures that are very popular at the minute, like the scuba fabric and gold chain accessories. In both cases, I went for something that is actually wearable rather than just good for photos.
Yana and Olga, what were the key highlights from this shoot?
Olga: This shoot was a lot of fun, but it definitely was not easy! Most people don’t realize how much work goes into making a photo look effortless. It took a full day of intense work, especially on Yana’s part, to take the perfect photo. Most of all, it was a great pleasure for me to work with such talented people to brainstorm together and create the looks and the photos.
Yana: Improvisation! I normally never know exactly where we will shoot, but I keep a list of potential locations in my head. In this case, two locations that I had wanted to use for a long time, just clicked! So, it’s really exciting when things just fall into place.
Olga, tell us about your favourite piece from these items. What sort of woman inspires each?
Olga: My favourite piece would be the tweed jacket. It is a multi-functional, universal piece that can be styled up or down. I created these items for a woman that is strong, independent, and creative: a woman that dares to stand out from the crowd and wears unconventional colors.
Styling / Photographer: Yana Buzko
Designer: Anderson House
Makeup: Candice Tompkins
Model: Torn + Polished