With a unique style and a dazzling collection that includes sparkling mini dresses, rhinestone-studded gowns, sexy leggings, and shoes to die for, designer Katya Roulette is on the fast track to fashion stardom.
Katya is a first-generation Russian immigrant, who spent much of her early life in Odessa, Ukraine. At the age of 20, she moved to the US and graduated from the International Academy of Design & Technology (IADT ) in 2012 and launched her own label, Russian Roulette. Her fashions have become an Instagram sensation and her unapologetic styles, innovative designs and crystal-loaded embellished 4-way stretch fabrics have been spotted on everyone from WWE wrestlers Sasha Banks and Zelina Vega to Cardi B and at RuPaul’s DragCon in New York.
Katya’s secondary line, Ilusionaties, is scheduled for release in early 2020 and the line’s spotlight is on its innovative Illusionatti Sneaker, consisting of a platform base and 4-way stretch top embellished with lace, mirror-effect appliqué or crystals. Katya’s footwear is truly remarkable. I have a pair of her Rose Gold Frost Boots and when I wear them, I Look and feel like a celebrity. The peep-toe shoes are well-constructed and surprisingly comfortable, and the glittery boot with lace-up accents definitely turns heads. I am in love.
We had the chance to talk to Katya and get to know her better by asking her the Socialite Seven. Read on as she shares her inspiration, her fashion journey and reveals who she’d love to dress (and lots more.)
Who inspires you?
A huge source of my creative energy comes from the satisfaction of knowing that my pieces empower women and make them feel confident in their unique bodies. Also, I follow my impulses. I might wake up and think, “going for a swim sounds good right now.” And, while I am swimming, I might get an idea for a particular piece, get out of the pool and get straight to it. I follow spiritual leaders. Esther Hicks has taught me many things. Bentinho Massaro is another voice that challenges me, in a good progressive way.
Who would you consider the most influential person in your field right now and why?
Today, after a long silence, modern fashion in America has its own unique voice. And this voice belongs to the independent designers – fresh, young, brave. Even European “legacy” houses are taking them seriously. Just look at what Virgil Abloh did for Louis Vuitton’s menswear. If I have to name a single person, I’d say Kanye West. He is a true genius and a champion of street fashion.
When did you know that you wanted to become a designer?
Since I was a child, I knew I wanted to become a fashion designer. Growing up in Russia, that dream was not common. Expressing yourself was not common. My mom had a sewing machine and she made all of our outfits and they were amazing, but it was never seen by others as a particularly admirable endeavor.
There were three defining moments in my career when I realized: yes, I can do it. The first one was the presentation of my graduation portfolio at IADT. My collection was so innovative that the visiting buyer from Neiman Marcus could not believe the items were indeed my creations. The second boost of confidence came from my first customer, Maliah Michele, an exotic dancer who was dating Drake at the time. I was styling her photoshoot and she asked if she could buy the dress that she was wearing. I had made that dress overnight, just for the shoot and did not think much of it. I asked her for $30. She gave me a hundred. The third moment of truth was seeing my design go viral for the first time. It’s a bittersweet feeling, to see other labels recreate your piece. I saw a photo of Cardi B in some magazine, and I was like “wow, that’s the Aqua bodysuit, that’s my design!”
Which celebrity would you love to create designs for?
There are so many prominent figures who inspire me: athletes, musicians, performers. I cannot name them all. Rihanna, Beyoncé, Serena Williams, Simone Biles, RuPaul. I would love to work with ice skaters like Madison Hubbell or Evgenia Medvedeva, soccer and basketball superstars Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird…to name just a few.
Who would you like to work with over and over again and why?
I love working with strong women who are proud of their unique bodies and their heritage. WWE wrestlers Sasha Banks and Zelina Vega are a limitless source of inspiration. I enjoy creating costumes for performers like Joseline Hernandez and the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I am blessed to be working with so many talented people.
If you could devote your life to one charity or one cause, what would it be and why?
If I could address one problem in our society – using my designs as a medium – I would choose to heal women from their lack of self-love. My designs are for all shapes and sizes. My models have curves. I have curves. We are all different and now is a great time to be ourselves, without the desperate need to fit in. Loving your body is hard work. This appreciation does not happen overnight, and the journey is different for everyone. I personally write affirmations on my mirror or just say to myself: “I am enough.” We are all beautiful and we need to celebrate that uniqueness.
If you could offer advice to your younger self knowing what you do now, what would it be?
Do not dwell in the past. The concept of time is simply an illusion made up of human memories. Everything that has ever happened – and ever will be happening – is RIGHT NOW. Concentrate on the present
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