It was destiny really. Meant to happen. This magazine held a contest to find a standout emerging designer and several designers stepped up with pieces that ranged from quirky to simply unwearable. One designer in particular designed several pieces that captured our attention. We looked through the photos and just had to meet her.
We flew her up from Jacksonville, Florida, talked, and unanimously decided that she was to be our new muse. Zula Khramov is a designer of many talents but is singularly focused on creating a line for the woman who recalls the grace of yesteryear. She abhors the dress down for every occasion theory that is slowly becomming an axiom in today’s culture. She is dedicated to her family. She is not afraid to try new things and it shows with her fall line. Read on for the full interview with this dynamic designer.
Papierdoll: Was it scary starting out knowing that you had to support a family and that you had all this pressure to succeed at designing?
Zula Khramov: It wasn’t scary, but it was very exciting. When you start a line from scratch with nothing going on it is very, very hard. But when you already have a studio like I had, it was the next natural progression to start designing. It cost a lot of money and time, it was a lot of work. The most exciting part of it is actually building a piece from the start, going through the design process and then actually seeing the finished product. Doing that I get so excited it’s hard not to design again and again.
PD: How does it feel to be a smaller designer in a large designer world?
ZK: Of course I would love to live in Paris or New York or even in LA because it is where fashion actually is and you can feel it. You can go anywhere in those cities and see it immediately. It’s good because designers have to know exactly what’s going on right now in the fashion world. But the other side of that, is that living in a smaller city like Jacksonville allows me to be away and also have less outside influences on my design decisions. I also get all the women’s magazines so I am still in touch with what’s going on in the fashion world. I also travel alot.
PD: So can it be said that you feel good about being outside of the big cities?
ZK: Not really, but I am trying to find a bright side. laughs If I ever have to be in a place like New York, of course I will make my move, but right now I am happy being where I am. I live in a great, interesting city and I have family and I have children. It’s a better environment for them. My business is very important, but family always goes first.
PD: What does your family think about the work that you do?
ZK: Well, my children are 10 and 8 so there’s not much they can think about the work that I do right now. But they are very proud. Whenever they see publications or pictures with my designs on the web they get very excited. For them it’s a bit fantastic. They don’t know much about about it, but what they see they like. But one day when they grow a little more I want them to be a part of it.
PD: Are you a risk taker by nature?
ZK: I think so, I think so. I mean of course I’m not crazy, so I would not risk a lot of money for an idea, but by nature I would risk it if the risk is measured and calculated. I wouldn’t do stupid risky, I would do risky in the sense that there is a good amount of hope that it would turn out ok.
PD: Do you take risks when it comes to designing?
ZK: Yes and that’s a different kind of risk. Again, there are two ways to look at it: one, you don’t want the line to be boring, the other, you don’t want to go too much over the edge because you have to think, who is going to wear it?
PD: How many collections have you done so far?
ZK: Well the one that I am going to show right now is called Jeanius, it’s my 3rd, it’s my 3rd season. I only count the ones I’ve done in my American existence. So far I’ve done 3.
PD: What about before America?
ZK: Before America I had designed 12 years prior and it was really the beginning of what I was doing. Now I am going deeper in terms of the designs I want to create.
PD: Do you have a personal favorite in terms of collection?
ZK: Well, the collections are like my children I love them all, but I am most involved with the current one. The one I am doing right now as in the this point is time is always my favorite one. Whatever I am doing right now is always my favorite, ask me tomorrow and it might be something different.
PD: Is Zulastudio making money yet?
ZK: Yes, of course. I can’t say I am selling statewide, but I have some of my pieces in LA, in DC and in boutiques here in Jacksonville.
PD: In checking your website, it says that you’ve won several awards does winning awards mean anything to you?
ZK: Of course, I would be lying if I said no. It’s always surprising it’s always pleasant, because it’s appreciation. So I am very happy about them. Especially being a foreigner in this country, whenever that happens it’s more than winning in my own country because I am always suprised and I am grateful.
PD: What’s the fashion scene in Jacksonville like?
ZK: Well, honestly laughs, I cannot say anything about the fashion scene in Jacksonville. The city is growing and it’s generally thought of as a place for seniors, but it’s growing and there is always something going on here.
PD: Do you hate it when people compare your line to something else?
ZK Everybody hates it. If you tell a designer “it’s so Prada” or anything else you can tell that they might be irritated. So far though my line hasn’t really been compared to anything else.
PD: What made you decide to move to the United States?
ZK: Well, it’s very romantic, my husband decided he wanted to move to the US and I really didn’t care where we were going. I plainly moved for love.
PD:Being married and having kids does that have any influence at all on the way you design?
ZK: No, It doesn’t influence the way I design, but it does give me a lot of support. One way to look at it is that people who don’t have families or are in their early 20s and design have a lot of time and ability to make moves, they don’t have these things to hold them back. When I have family, when I have children, you know what’s important in your life. So if designing doesn’t work out for me, I still have my family, and if it does,I have my family who will share with pleasure and joy my success.
PD: Do you ever get tired of looking at your own designs all day?
ZK: No, but sometimes I feel like I am not good at all, then a friend will say, it’s not that bad. I feel any real artist in general sometimes go through that stage where they feel as if what they do is not enough. I think great work comes from hesitation, from doubt, and sometimes self disbelief, but it gives you a push to design something interesting.
Does sexuality play a role at all in your designs?
ZK: Well, I design for women. And any woman I think wants to attract men. That’s what we do women attract men, men attract women. And I wouldn’t believe people who say no. So of course I am always keeping in mind that this dress is supposed to attract men.
PD: Do you think being in Jacksonville limits your visibilty to the fashion world?
ZK: No. Not with the internet, not with airplanes,I mean I can be whereever I want to be and it’s not a problem So, no, I don’t think so.
Zula Khramov designs for her own fashion studio. You can view her complete works at Zulastudio.com