Goga Ashkenazi: 'Vionnet changed my view of work'
Vionnet’s creative director and owner Goga Ashkenazi used to hate going to work before she got into fashion.
The Kazakh-Russian businesswoman made her money in oil, but turned her back on the vocation when she bought French fashion house Vionnet in 2012.
She admits people thought she was crazy to acquire the haute couture label, but Goga has no regrets.
"I used to hate going to work," she admitted to harpersbazaar.com. "Financial success was a driving force; it's difficult to turn your back on it. But oil and gas always felt like something I had to do. It never felt like my final destination. In that old life, I never enjoyed myself like I'm enjoying myself now.
“When I bought Vionnet I didn't want to be creative director. It was not my intent to come in and hire and fire people. I tried to work with the existing ones, who were very talented, but then they left me in the middle of a collection. I was like a child thrown into the depth of the sea, but I struggled my way out and really learnt every single little thing."
Vionnet recently unveiled its Autumn/Winter 16 collection at Paris Fashion Week, showing off draped designs and nods to Grecian goddess.
The rich heritage of the label, which was founded in 1912, still runs through its DNA, and Goga makes sure original designer Madeleine Vionnet is at the centre of her work.
"Madeleine Vionnet always used metallic thread, so we're always trying to find new ways of doing it without it being too shiny, rough on the skin, or naff,” she explained.
Growing up in Soviet Moscow, the 36-year-old former oil tycoon reveals fashion was not part of everyday life. In fact individual styles were shunned in favour of a planned economy where everyone wore the same clothes.
"But ateliers were available to a certain level of individuals, and my mum was one of them,” she said. “Fashion magazines were illegal, but we'd pass around old copies and have clothes made inspired by them."