Croation designer Olya Sookie knew at an early age that she wanted to design, so she chose Fine Arts High School in Split, studying industrial design. She graduated high school in 2009, with her project being Papillon Discoteque – which won the second prize at the national exhibition of graduate projects in design: IDIVA 2009. This gave her a chance to exhibit her work at the International fair of innovation, new ideas, products, and technologies – ARCA 2009.
Olya graduated in product design from Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo. Over the years she worked on different projects, ranging from industrial design to its total opposite; unique design. Many of her projects were successfully realised and exhibited. They are excellent examples of successful collaborations between students and companies. One of those projects was a collaboration between Japanese Embassy and the Academy, which resulted in Olya’s “Sookie Doll” being exhibited in Japan in 2013.
Her current work is divided on Olya Sookie Home, handmade ceramic and also developing her own fashion brand “Nephilim”. Nephilim showcased at her first fashion show at BAFE (Balkan Art Fashion Event) in Belgrade, December 2015.
In April 2016. Olya participated at the Designer Fair in Zadar, with her works in ceramics, lamps and coffee tables.
In December 2016, she also showcased her clothing line at the ReDesign Me show, hosted by Circular de la Mode in Zagreb.
Olya Sookie started 2017 with her being included in lookbook of Croatian designers by fashion portal moda.hr. She was invited to multiple fashion weeks such as Milano Fashion Week, Paris Haute Couture Week, Autumn Fashion show on river Seine in Paris, Maldives – Catwalk on water and Dubai Fashion Week. Her fashion brand, Nephilim, became a part of London platform NOTJUSTALABEL (NJAL), which discovers and promotes prominent new designers. Additionally, Olya Sookie, received a personal invitation to be a part of prestigious international design competition „A Design Awards“ an offer from British Vogue to write a piece about her work and brand Nephilim. In September 2017 Olya’s fashion brand Nephilim was a part of Fall Fashion Show In Zagreb and subsequently published and featured in various magazines and portals. In the last year, there were 17 articles and 4 international printed editorial publications about Olya and her brand Nephilim. She achieved excellent cooperation with international photographers such as Alexandra Khlon (Namibia, Afrika) and Maja Topčagić (BIH). We caught up with this trailblazing designer.
What three traits define you?
Passionate, ambitious, determined.
What are the biggest challenges in your career?
I believe that the greatest challenge in my career is my geographical location. It makes it difficult to come by half of the materials I want to realise my ideas. Second to that is my product placement in the domestic and foreign market. But I am lucky to be living in the digital age where it is easy to present my work to a wider audience. It helps greatly.
Where does your inspiration come from?
The inspiration for the work is Burning Man festival and Cyberpunk as a genre. A common line is their extremism and shifting boundaries in expression, living, and creativity. Initial idea and desire is to present a fashion of subcultural style, manifested in examples that have the scent of sculptural art and contribute to experimenting with fashion itself. My love for dance and mysticism has inspired me to create a fashion collection for people who love to be a little bit on the wild style of self-expression. Name Nephilim has contributed to aesthetic significance of the range itself. Although Nephilim has more meanings, I choose it due to its representation of Gods offspring, half angels, and half warriors. My Goal is to make every woman feel that she can be a warrior and yet feel divine and angelic, as one supreme being should.
How did you get into being a fashion designer?
I ended up as a fashion designer by chance. My entire education was marked by industrial and product design. I spent nine years surrounded by such projects and never even crossed my mind that I will have anything to do with fashion. For my graduation project, I choose to work with ceramics and that´s when the turnaround happened. Due to health problems with tendons in my arm, I was unable to do anything with my hands that required precision and a delicate touch for over half a year, let alone to work with clay. I was not ready to wait so long for my recovery. I wanted to graduate and start building my career as soon as possible, so I started to look for alternatives, something that I could work on straight away. Somehow, completely spontaneous, an idea was formed in my head to create my first conceptual collection, that would be based on what would I, as a dancer, love to wear to festivals. As soon as I began work on this new project I started realising how much love, passion and fresh new ideas I had. Soon after first fashion show feedbacks arrived for this new project they were all positive so I decided to continue my work. Still, I never abandoned product design, and now I have split my work into two, fashion and ceramics.
Do you have a Muse you wish you could see wearing your designs?
A woman I would like to see in my designs is Gina Harrison. I just love her aesthetic and overall impression. But I don’t have any particular muse, I want to see all a variety „one of a kind“ type a woman in my designs.
Do you have a story you are particularly fond of, from the early years of your career?
Very dear to me, is the one how fashion connected two persons from completely different parts of the world. Me and photographer, Alexandra Klohn from Africa. As I was browsing a forum for fashion designers in Croatia I stumbled upon a post from Lexi K. It was an announcement that she is a fashion photographer that is coming to Croatia that summer and anyone that was interested in collaboration should contact her. After checking her work I was mesmerized and decided to call her. Since the first Skype call, we realised that we had a good vibe between us. I decided to invite her to be my guest and to create wonderful fashion art together. Following her arrival, very shortly, we realised that we both found our creative soulmates. We discovered that we were born in the same year, five days apart, we are same horoscope sign and we are quite similar in all aspects of life! In the end, we bonded so close that she decided to stay for three weeks instead of one. During that time, we created a lot of beautiful things and forged a friendship for life. We both felt like we found our long lost best friend. And to think it is all thanks to fashion.
What are your plans for the future?
There are a lot of ideas that I want to bring to life, but most of all, I want to use my design to leave an impact and contribute to the community as much as I can. My work is not just about me. It is about people that will wear it, about them being able to feel great. It is about all the people that I can provide a workplace for if and when I become successful enough to hire someone. I want to be a part of visionaries and creative people that can make a change. I believe that it is our duty, for us who have the ability to create, to do our best to make a positive change in this world in one way or the other. My plan for the future is to become accomplished enough to be able to make a significant change if nothing in my field of expertise. Start with yourself and your surrounding and make the best of it. One step at a time!
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