Our shoot takes place inside a Midtown Manhattan studio on a typically hot July day. Vita Kin, Ukrainian it-girl - turned photographer - turned designer, is debating with the hairstylist on what's to be done with her hair. Any interference on my end would be pointless.
Mrs. Kin, 44, is in all ways, a fun character: straightforward, highly opinionated, witty and a lot of fun to work with. Her personal style is relaxed and cool: think A-line coat paired with flat sandals or her traditional Ukrainian embroidered tunics worn with Mary Janes. Three of those tunics designed by her, which she calls “Vyshyvankas,” are hanging on a rack behind us. “You know I read all those amazing comments from people on Instagram and my heart melts.” She remarks, “I feel so bad not everyone can afford my designs, but it’s a business, you know?”
Her line 'Vyshyvanka by Vita Kin’, with the slogan 'Chic Nationale' (a phrase suggested by one of her many fans), is a story of phenomenal success. With just an Instagram account that generates sales and no investment in PR and marketing, her line is sold-out with a waiting list that can last months, and even Miroslava Duma and Ukraine's new First Lady, Marina Poroshenko, are amongst her fans. International buyers keep calling her to place orders. “I told all of them, they have to wait until October,” she says in her ‘I don't care’ manner: a move that is impossible to imagine from any Ukrainian designer. Not to mention, she has two production offices with full time staff (and two adorable cats) in Kyiv to accommodate all the orders and it seems like it’s not enough.
Sporting a perfect tan from her vacation in Miami from a few days ago and sipping Moët & Chandon brought in by her husband Roman, she comments on pretty much everything during the shoot.
In a rare interview, Mrs. Kin tells Playing Fashion about her clothing line, her approach to beauty and personal style and shares her views on everything Ukrainian.
I DON’T HAVE TIME TO DRESS UP
hen I am in Kiev. I wake up, get ready to work and leave the house. But when I am on vacation I love to wear something nice and beautiful. I always dream about walking in those beautiful outfits somewhere where it is warm and sunny… but I prefer to travel light anyway. So all those beautiful amazing dresses that I have in my wardrobe I wear only once in a while, really. That’s because I work a lot and prefer to wear something comfortable. Also beauty-wise, I don’t spend a lot of time in beauty salons, like many other girls in Kiev. My style has never been too dressy. It could be, though.
WHAT I PACK FOR VACATION?
For a warm destination, it’s simple: a couple of tops, a few pairs of denim shorts and blouses. That’s pretty much it. I usually shop on location, so on my way back I would have a suitcase full of clothes. It has not always been like this. I used to take a lot of stuff with me, but I would go shopping anyway and then would never wear anything that I would bring with me. Lesson learned. Now I travel light and I think I can even pack lighter.
LAST YEAR A FORTUNE TELLER IN NEW YORK CITY TOLD ME
I should focus on just one thing, instead of doing many. (Vita has been taking pictures for magazines and commercial clients as well as designing a line of chiffon dresses, very popular in Kyiv – editor’s note.) I gave it a thought: what would that one thing be that people around the world would want and buy like hot cakes? My best friend throws a Ukrainian themed party for the Twelfth Day every year, and I got hooked by everything Ukrainian two years ago when she first did it. I love ornaments, and I had this idea of doing sweaters. I ordered 200 pounds of Italian cashmere, paid for it, designed amazing sweaters with an illustrator, had a fashion business coach coming to me once a week to teach me how to create a collection; but when I gave my designs and technical requirements to local manufacturers it turned out that they couldn’t produce what I wanted. Nevertheless I decided to do sweaters with a simple ornament and when they were producing them I randomly found someone who was doing embroidery and that’s how that Idea of Vyshyvanka came to me. The happiest day of my life was when I got a call from those sweater manufacturers who said that a mistake during production dyed my amazing colorful cashmere black. I got it back, threw it all away, didn’t even go to those manufacturers to talk about business, I just forgot about the sweaters, abandoned the idea. Linen in Ukraine is of very good quality and for embroidery we use the finest German threads. That’s my new formula.
DO I WANT TO BUILD A FASHION EMPIRE?
Of course, not. What I want to do is to lie on the beach on a sunny warm day and sell my creations through Instagram. My terms are 100% payment pre order, a 21-day wait for production, paid shipment, and 2 sizes to choose from. I don’t really care about anything else, I really don’t… I can’t even imagine having a factory or anything like that … I’d rather spend my time thinking of new designs.
MY BEAUTY ROUTINE IS VERY SIMPLE
I use La Mer face crème. That’s it. I also have a great French doctor who comes to give me Botox injections every 4 months. I am not ashamed to say that. I really prefer to do something just once and forget about it for a long time rather than going to countless facials and massages. I really hate when someone I don’t know touches my face. It’s very uncomfortable for me.
I DON’T GIVE INTERVIEWS
I stopped buying magazines because I don’t like them. I am not interested in anything they write about and I am not interested in promoting myself, I don’t need all this praise. I am not interested in telling someone about my daily routine and what I eat for breakfast, you know? It doesn’t matter to me at all. But I am here because I like you, we are in New York City and I felt so lazy this morning that I said to myself: "Well, if I feel like it, then, I should go there and do that shoot. It’ll be fun."
I LOVE UKRAINE
and I love Ukrainians and our culture and all those amazing folk songs, the traditions and the language, but it doesn’t mean that I must stay in the country all the time. I can be Ukrainian anywhere I want in the world.
Photography by Jens Ingvarsson; sittings editor: Robert Mishchenko; hair by Aleksandra Nesterchuk using Kerastase; make-up by Stephanie Peterson.
Opening Image: embroidered linen dress by Vita Kin. All pieces throughout the story, Vita's own.