Anya Ostapenko is a multi-disciplinary creative whose work is driven by a love of visual storytelling. Besides conceptualising and executing the collection, designing the logo and shooting the campaign, Anya also has an inherent love of architecture and sweeping landscapes, a clear source of inspiration of her work. Having spent several years developing her business in bridal accessories and headwear, Anya’s passion for design became the impetus to take on something greater. She noticed a gap in the market for laid-back, fashionable bridal wear and as such, recognised her need to inject spontaneity and romance back into the industry. And so, Anya’s desperation to create something unique evolved into the birth of her own label, L’eto Bridal.
Launched in August of this year, Seascape is Anya’s debut collection of contemporary gowns, designed to move with the wearer as she dances and enjoys the best day of her life, which ever way she chooses to celebrate. Driven by concepts of airiness and transparency, Seascape is unapologetically mysterious and inspires an sense of ephemeral wonder. The collection features a set of separates and eight distinct gowns, which Anya explains she designed individual of each other as a way of fostering organic and emotional conceptual evolution. The collection offers an opportunity or medium through which the bride can experience her surroundings – the gowns capture an intuitive longing to run through the fields or be swept up in nature’s unpredictable gestures. With subtle inspiration drawn from the festival-spirit of the 70’s, Seascape is both modern and chic yet unabashedly soulful and romantic.
We sat down with Anya in her sunlit Sydney studio to discuss her creative ambitions, the Seascape collection, and her ongoing love affair with flowy fabrics and Japanese cakes.
“The brand was born out of desperation to create something different.”
Who is the L’eto bride?
She wants to be on a journey of her own. She wants to go and get married, elope and things like that. That’s who my bride is. It’s a sexy cool.
For now this is what the brand is about. Cool, sensual and contemporary.
How would you describe the aesthetic of the gown in the Seascape L’eto Bridal Launch Collection?
I think it’s a contemporary brand with a twist. It’s definitely not just a minimalist brand.
This current collection is called Seascape. The place that we shot it [the collection] was perfect because it was epic – the sun was setting, there was no one around, it was secluded, it was very moody, it had strong architecture, she’s looking ahead at the sunset, she’s all alone.
It’s an emotional brand. I wouldn’t say it’s just a commercial project.
You just launched L’eto this year. Can you tell us a bit about the brand? Where did the inspiration for the brand originate?
Just in August, it has just happened. L’eto came out of a desperate place of creating something different in bridal. It took me a year and a half to find the style, and I hadn’t designed all ten pieces of the first collection straight away. It was a journey because I wanted to see how each gown makes me feel so that I create something different. But to be honest, I didn’t know how the collection would be or how the brand would be apart from ‘contemporary’ until I shot the campaign. I never had a strict black and white vision, but the brand was born out of desperation to create something different.
I wanted to create something that would be ‘Sydney’ – trendy, fashionable, accessible, easy, contemporary. And I wanted to be a Sydney brand that’s all about trend and fashion for bridal. So that’s how it came to be, that’s totally the vision behind it.
Have you always been in the bridal industry?
Yes, I did accessories for four years and now it’s probably my fifth year in bridal. I would have designed fashionable gowns, but that’s where L’eto comes in, because it’s a fashionable bridal brand. So it’s basically an evening, fashionable gown that’s bridal – that’s how I think about the brand.
Was it a very natural progression from bridal accessories to bridal wear?
Totally, I just couldn’t not design the gowns because I had so many ideas about it. I took it [Bridal La Boheme] to New York, so I know the bridal industry, so when I launched this I knew where to go. I’m glad I had the experience you know because it’s been really great.
What does the creative process look like for you? Do you experiment with your designs or have a vision of the final product from the beginning?
I wasn’t experimenting no, it was a clear vision. But that vision took a while to get to, so there was gap between each dress. But there was never: “Oh let’s try this sleeve, let’s try this skirt.”
Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for brides who are beginning the search for the right dress – going to boutiques and trying on different styles?
I would just say, get your dress how you would want to feel on the day and don’t worry about the rest. I wouldn’t want the bride to swing to this dress or that style just because someone else said so. If she like it she has to go and get it. Be emotional and be intuitive when you plan your wedding because there’s not enough of that. What happened to spontaneous: “Let’s get married, let’s do it! I want this dress. I don’t want to think too long about it.” I think it’s changing – young people are being a bit more brave.
“It’s an emotional brand.”
In the design of a wedding dress, what captures your heart most – the silhouette or the fabric?
Silhouette, definitely silhouette. I like sheer fabrics to start off with. I like the movements and flow. I like fabrics, I’m inspired. I always make sure that there is a vision of how she would move. And then I just pick the fabric that will make that. The next collection will be similar so it’s going to be flowy as well.
You designed, styled and shot the Seascape campaign. How long have you been interested in photography?
I enjoy it because I always had visions in my head and [photography] is an extension of what I do. I can’t not I guess, just purely because I don’t think it is then a finished product – you know you design a collection and then hand it over to someone else to finish it off. Images are everything! This is all about branding and the vision, and the tones, and the colours that you use in the campaign.
What can we expect from L’eto Bridal in the near future?
Definitely a lot of architecture in my shoots because space is very inspiring. It’s definitely going to be flowy and sheer. However I’m going to shoot the next collection, always know that its going to be around some beautiful architectural building or design. And epic. Always it has to be epic.
Indoor or outdoor wedding? Outdoor.
Wedding hair – up or down? Down.
Sushi or burritos? I like both… Japanese desserts and matcha cake!
Black and white or colour? Both!
Summer or winter? Summer.
Flats or heels? Heels.
Sweet or spicy? Spicy.
Maxi or mini? Maxi.
Minimalist or maximalist? Minimalist.
Vintage or Ready-To-Wear? Ready-To-Wear.