In this day and age of sexual revolution, when the identities of he and she are no longer separate entities, as women dress like men (Exhibit A: the iconic power suit by Donna Karan) and men dress like women (Exhibit B: men in heels at J.W. Anderson’s latest men’s show) and unisex brands become more and more of the norm, have we actually forgotten how to dress and act like a lady? If the answer is yes, here is an education to restore our default setting to that of the gentlewoman, as Playing Fashion was invited to Esme Vie’s studio on a sunny morning by designer Julia Voitenko who showed us the finesse of femininity. (If the answer was ‘no’, just enjoy a story that inspires and learn more about what to invest in for your wardrobe.)
Even before the Milan-based brand was launched in September 2013, it showed its potential as the designers were crowned the winner of AltaRoma and Vogue Italia’s reputable "Who Is On Next" Contest by a panel of respected international fashion experts, like Franca Sozzani and Suzy Menkes. It was during Milan Fashion Week of the same year that Daria Golevko and Julia Voitenko launched their label at their showroom on the fashion capital’s glamorous Via della Spiga. Raving reviews in prominent international publications, such as The International Herald Tribune, were what came next for the duo, who also attracted the attention of buyers of online luxury retailer Moda Operandi and luxury department store Harrods to stock the collection.
The story of Miss Golevko and Miss Voitenko's creative collaboration began when they met at an art lesson at age 17. Over a partnership of 12 years, friendship was not the only thing that they shared, but also all things fashion. The pair launched a footwear brand called ‘Judari’, while they were still studying at the Moscow Design and Technology University. Next, they moved to Italy when they won a shoe design contest, which awarded them an internship at Valentino in Italy.
Today, Miss Golevko and Miss Voitenko are based in Milan to develop their brand Esme Vie, which pursues the creation of ‘beauty made to wear’. Esme Vie is inspired by the timeless feminine style of the ‘50s and ‘60s and re-interprets it for today in a unique way with quality, innovation and Made in Italy tradition. The brand name is in French - “Esme” is a rare female’s name, which stands for esteemed or beloved, while “Vie” stands for life. It refers in particular to the “recollection of tales from the past, re-lived today when spoken of”. A celebration of impeccable elegance, finesse and simplicity, the collections combine classical designs and innovative materials which enchant us and make us really miss the good old days.
For spring, the Vogue Talents introduced a Day Line of beautiful wearable pieces for every occasion and a Luxury Line for the evening using precious materials of the highest quality produced and processed in Italy, such as Double Washed Silk, Satin Double and Double Wool Crèpe fabrics. The collection of skirts, pants, jackets and wrap coats in a colour combination of romantic pastels from Arabian Spice to Withered Rose and solid colours, such as night blue, chateau gray and gardenia white are the dreamy essentials that build up a fair lady's secret wardrobe.
Old fashioned? No! It’s timeless.
Photography by Nadine Ottawa; styling by Vanessa Cocchiaro; hair and make-up by Rory Rice; model: Mia Temirova / Brave Models. All images: all pieces by Esme Vie.