If you've ever had the chance to go to Milan Fashion Week you could not come away without noticing one of the most flamboyant and innovative fashion reporters Olga Rink. Olga is the ultimate blogger, who turned to blogging after over 25 years working in the industry telling her stories through her photographs. Loved by designers and stylists alike, she rubs shoulders with fashion's finest! We caught up with her in Milan!
is the story behind your super successful blog HAUTE PEPPER?
Well first of all thank you for the compliment and for appreciating my work. The basis for any success has to be great passion. In this case it is my passion for fashion, art and the philosophy of life.
inspired you to create it, was a there a defining moment in your life when you
thought, I have to write down my thoughts and share them with the world?
I had been working in the fashion world for over 25 years, I'd been passionate about fashion since a very young age. The decision to set up the blog was not a spur the moment thing, it was the result of this experience of a lifetime in the fashion world.
inspires you to write a post?
Like a painter who sees his thoughts and visions reflected on his blank canvas the moment he opens his eyes in the morning, I too wake up with an immediate desire to share my emotions and views with my friends and fans. The inspiration is such that often I've not not been able to get to sleep!
you ever suffered from 'writer's block'? If yes what do you do to get
Yes of course, it happens to me too from time to time, but my photos help me - you know what they say a picture can say more than a thousand words!
makes HAUTE PEPPER different from all other blogs?
I think it's related to the fact that I always follow my own direction, and never follow in anyone's footsteps. If someone elses work does influence me than I take the time to absorb this and express it in my unique way.
do you love the most about having your own blog?
Taking pictures of myself. I feel like an actress in a different role on every occasion. I believe I was born an actress, I have so many different personalities within me!
would you recommend to someone thinking of starting their own blog?
Well first of all, they should not assume that it is an easy job, it is not, and it certainly is not an easy way to receive gifts from stylists and designers. No one gives anything for free, and they certainly don't if you are not intent on helping those involved in the fashion world to develop their desires.
Designers want visibility. They are artists, with a very sensitive side. Like children they cannot develop and grow without love. I have a very profound understanding of this, as I too used to create. It's simple really, if you have enough love for others, you too will be successful.
You often talk about your dislike of the cold yet you chose to live in Milan - not known for its warm winters, what is it about Milan that made you decide to stay and make it your home?
Italy was always a place of desire for me, desire connected to fashion and art, I had no idea about the climate! Milan's climate is not what i would necessarily choose, it's far too hot in summer and humid and damp in winter. Even in love Milan hasn't been overly fortunate for me, I've never been able to find Mr. Right :-)
What is the thing that you love about Milan and the thing that you hate?
Milan is a perfect size, not too big and not too small - which I love. What I loathe is seeing dog poo on the streets and the fact that in the last 7 years since I moved here Piazza del Duomo has become as bad as Piazza San Marco in Venice in terms of pigeon droppings!
Milan seems to have lost its way as far as being the centre of innovation and style for fashion - with many buyers choosing to skip going to Milan Fashion Week because they claim it's disorganised and it offers rather 'commercial - mid range fashion' rather than the innovative ever stylish designs with exceptional craftsmanship that we were used to seeing.
What is your view on this and how do you think Milan can claim back it's crown as the centre of innovative fashion? What will it take to bring back the luxury buyers back to Milan?
Trying to compare Milan today to Milan of the past is a waste of time since history develops according to its own rules. Once upon a time the Roman Empire governed through the latin language, today we could say that Wall Street governs through the english language.
Today in the 21st century with new technologies, that have changed all sectors, not just fashion and art, even the economic crisis has its ups and downs! Fast-foods everywhere, even in the fashion world.... just take a look at the Forbes list Amancio Ortega aka Zara is in third place (using low cost production) whilst Bernard Arnault owner of LVMH (Dior, Gucci, Louis Vuitton etc, ) has dropped to 10th place!
That said it's not the end of luxury and I also believe that Milan hasn't lost the crown yet. I still believe in italian creativity, which unfortunately is not as appreciated in Italy as it is abroad (just look at how many italians currently work in the great French Maisons - the latest is Fausto Puglisi at Maison Ungaro).
You have described the 1980s as glorious, what was it about the 80s that made it glorious for you?
The point is always the same. True luxury is, in my opinion, the freedom to express oneself. Materialistic luxury is based on economic growth and positive political changes. The 80s were a Renaissance of sorts, the end of the Cold War and the economic growth of the US with Reagan were an example for Italian politics.
Italians began to invest in the stockmarket and enjoy life, despite the growing national debt we all know what happened as a result of this, but at the time total optimism was in vogue: the Berlin Wall had finally crumbled, belief in politics was strong, the anthropological model of the time were YUPPIES, "Things Can Only Get Better" was an 80s anthem, some of the greatest musical artists of all time shared the same stage Grace Jones, Abba, Madonna, David Bowie, George Michael, Michael Jackson, Boy George, Annie Lennox, Prince.
The 80s were the years of the first great success of VERSACE, bold colours, gold, luxurious accessories. In Paris a whole generation of TOP MODELS walked down the catwalk in MUGLER's futuristic and rigorous constructions. I loved Jean Paul GAULTIER's exceptional sense of colour and fantasy based on the inheritance of the world's etno culture, and still love it today. The 80s truly were GLORIOUS!
designer do you think we should be looking at carefully in Italy? Who is
the next Gianni Versace or the next Valentino, Armani or Gianfranco Ferré in
I've already mentioned Fausto Puglisi, who is the moral heir to Gianni Versace, but with his own fully formed individual style. The next Gianfranco Ferré in grandeur is Riccardo Tisci...... both show exhibit their talent in Paris.
Armani and Valentino, I can't tell as yet. Although if you are looking for innovation, then Italy has Prada - hard to be more innovative then them! There is hope yet, I remain positive and an optimist as I was in the 80s.
Milan Fashion Week starts soon, which show
are you looking forward to seeing the most and why?
Fendi, as you can always be sure to discover something new in terms of the research and interpretation of leather goods.
Prada and Marni as their innovative interpretation of past themes always astounds the fashion community. They are the only ones to have the milanese 'free spirit' which was so strong from the second world war through to the 80s. After that it all changed, generations of true milanese is slowly disappearing, the city has another look!
Dolce & Gabbana, because they have remained faithful to their beloved muse: the mediterranean woman, particularly sicilian.
Now look what you've done... you've got me started - at this rate this interview will go on and on!:-)
you had to choose between Milan Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, or Paris
Fashion Week which one would you choose to attend and why?
Asking a person who loves fashion and who loves to see many different designers to choose is pointless... it's like asking a mother which child she loves the most!
appears that many European brands (particularly French and British) are
investing heavily in their artisan talent, returning to their roots and valuing
heritage and craftsmanship - probably as a result of the emerging markets
clients becoming more demanding (less bling bling and more true luxury).
Italy - which is home to some of the world's finest artisans,
tailors, seamstresses and craftsmen seems to be lagging behind! Indeed we
have seen a bizarre situation where whilst many Italian fashion houses are
outsourcing their manufacturing abroad to countries with cheaper labour , young emerging foreign designers are flocking to Italy to
tap into this incredible craftsmanship talent to produce exquisite designs with exceptional
craftsmanship! What is your view on this?
Personally I am delighted to see countries returning their roots, because the cultural heritage of the planet is immense.
We have to return to our roots to find our physical and mental health, feeling at ease with one's body, dressing simply and according to the season using natural fabrics, coloured with natural dyes, using embroidery as decor and of course loving and having a family.
What about fashion you say? Isn't fashion all about excess and discomfort? Art will never disappear... art comes in many guises : colours, different types of fabrics, decorations, perfumes, craftsmanship and traditions passed down from one generation to the next have not died, but we must be quick. I know a lot depends on the policies dictated by our governments but let us start by making the right choices ourselves!
is luxury to you? How would you define luxury?
Luxury, true luxury, is the freedom to think, health, love and family. Then you can have beautiful things to decorate your body, but they have to be made with love such as the works of art of artisans borne out of passion, this is true luxury, the exchange of love and respect. I am a romantic at heart.
|Anna dello Russo|
rub shoulders with some of fashion's elite, namely Diane Pernet, Anna Dello
Russo to name a couple- what do you talk about when you sit down for a coffee?
Fashion, politics, family?
They are great, and don't speak much but they reason a lot. They can see how the world turns from above. Life isn't always easy for them having to deal with all that negative energy which comes from jealousy and envy of others. But they are strong and down-to-earth, they speak of every day mundane things but also of politics, economy and social psychology all at once!
Like most bloggers you probably
have a few blogs you follow, which ones do you like the most and why?
Before starting my own blog I used to follow some blogs to understand the whole system of blogging and also to understand the different styles etc. The top ones for me were: The Sartorialist, Face Hunter, Style Bubble, Brian Boy, The Blonde Salad, Caroline's Mode, Stockholm Street Style and others.
Today I rarely follow them, I'd much rather read online magazines such as Style.com, Vogue.it, Vogue.fr although I do sometimes look at The Sartorialist for its independent stance, Adam Katz Sinding's le 21éme for its beautiful photos, StyleBubble because it is informative and intellectual.... but I'm always so busy I rarely have the time!
If you could define fashion in
one word what would that word be?
Labels: anna dello russo, blog, fashion, Haute Pepper, interview, interviews, luxury, milan fashion week, milano, natalia, Olga Rink, sabrina gambato