Last December when Alicia Keys made an appearance at Expo 2020 Dubai, she wore a striking belted robe in a bold-hued geometric print. Modern yet modest and at first glance, it seemed like the work of an international designer. It was, in fact, a design from Kristina Fidelskaya’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection.
For a homegrown designer to have flagship stores in two of the city’s most important shopping destinations — The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates — and a studio in Dubai Design District (D3) is an achievement. Forty-two-year-old fashion designer Kristina Fidelskaya is certainly living the Dubai dream. She moved to the city with her husband 17 years ago from the Crimea region and enrolled herself at Esmod Fashion Institute in Dubai. With both her parents coming from creative fields (her father is a musician and mother a painter), a career in an artistic field was an obvious choice.
“Attending Esmod was incredible, I learnt so much about the design process, the selection of fabrics and the make of materials. It has set the foundation for everything I do as a brand,” she says. Her label is produced at her atelier and production space at D3, while the fabrics are sourced from some of Europe’s finest suppliers — be it Bodin-Joyeux in France (a tannery that has been acquired by Chanel) or silk embroidered from over a century- old textile company Jakob Schlaepfer in Switzerland (Miu-Miu and Prada are also known to have sourced from them). Her clothes have been worn by Kylie Jenner, Kris Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian and Nancy Ajram. At her shows and press days, leading stylists from the region make it a point to take time out to preview her collections, as she is one of the few homegrown labels with such width (from ballgowns to swimwear) and exacting standards.
Vasil Bozhilov is a Dubai-based stylist who has worked with magazines such as Vogue Arabia, Elle Slovenia and also styled regional campaigns for Polo Ralph Lauren. He says Kristina’s is one of the most recognisable labels in the region. “Every time we think of a success story of someone who started a brand in the UAE, her name comes on top of the list.”
While labels from the Middle East are known for being very flamboyant and dramatic, Kristina’s approach to design is quieter. Bozhilov describes Fidelskaya’s aesthetic as “sophisticated with a very modern approach to every woman’s must-have”. The designer herself says the Kristina Fidelskaya woman is “one who lives and dresses for her contemporary lifestyle”. “She’s a dreamer, she’s independent, she’s a romantic, she’s passionate in everything she does. She’s a provider, a caregiver, a mother, she lives life on the go. She dresses in comfortable elegance and likes looks that can take her from day to night, with a simple change of shoes.” She says for her, Gabrielle Chanel remains an inspiration for every collection. “I consider Chanel the church of fashion.” Of course, Kristina Fidelskaya label is a luxury ready-to-wear brand born in Dubai, so glamour does play a part. One quarter of her collection is dedicated to evening wear every season. With the rest of her collection, she likes to make pieces that can be dressed up or down. “I like to call it ‘future classics’ pieces that can be repeated, worn across different styles, and passed down to your daughter.” This is one of the reasons she keeps her colour palette very muted, with white playing a strong role in every collection so that pieces can be mixed and matched with ease.
If you are looking to invest in one of these pieces, then it should be the biker jacket. “Every season we produce a new take on the classic leather jacket, a wardrobe staple every woman should own.” Personal shopper and stylist Mukta Shahdadpuri notes, “Her pieces are minimalistic and yet make a statement, which allow them to serve as staples in your wardrobe for any season. She has played with a variety of fabrics and textures, right from the leather trenches to the flirty tulle and neutral prints. In my opinion, she has aced the art of layering with her multi-use versatile separates, which could take you from day to night on many occasions.”
There is also lounge wear in her collection, which she produces not as a result of the pandemic but because of her own love for travel. Her silk “jet-sets” even come with a matching eye mask. Those who like to travel to cooler climes should look at one of her cashmere tracksuits for summer. On the other end of spectrum, she also creates bespoke pieces for clients who have a penchant for couture and Kristina says that part of her business enjoys a loyal clientele. Many of her customers are, in fact, industry insiders, such as Sharis Shir, founder and designer of Dubai-based resort fashion label Sharis & Diba. She discovered the brand while in a mall and says, “Kristina creates pieces you definitely want to invest in. The designs have this interesting mix of softness and sharpness. Plus, their ability to customise my favourite items with their made-to-order range, and create bespoke gowns right here in their Dubai atelier, make this label special.”
Her collection for this summer is called “Peace” and for the first time, she has introduced a capsule swimwear. Kristina turned to Melissa Odabash to create the line. The former swimwear model and well-known resort wear designer is known for her mindful approach to fashion, using fabrics such as econyl made of regenerated nylon yarn. Fidelskaya is clear about her own approach to sustainability. “We limit our production quantities, aiming towards a zero-waste philosophy. Our sustainable efforts lie within our design process, but mainly within our creative conceptualisation, with collection pieces designed as timeless and everlasting, with products created to last a lifetime. And we are currently reworking all our packaging to be 100 per cent recyclable, which will be released soon.”
Yet she has expansion on her mind as she hopes to grow her retail spaces regionally and then internationally. Prior to the pandemic, the designer participated in Paris Fashion Week, and she is planning a return to one of the international fashion weeks very soon. There is no question that it is a Dubai label worth keeping a keen eye on.