Amidst the year of deafening chaos, has come a call for stillness, an interlude for Alena Leena Bridal. A time for pause to soulfully seek out serenity and a deeper consciousness through opened eyes and an open heart, in turn, welcoming a wave of fresh inspiration for her new 2021 collection, ‘Stillness’. A season that explores the undulating boundaries of bridal, steeped in lightness and uncomplicated silhouettes; a sense of simplicity perfectly balanced with lavishness awash in ethereality. Her designs are synonymous for incapsulating the internal romance and femininity of blooms, yet this season is so much more – there is an undeniable strength and confidence imbued in each gown with masterful cuts that celebrate the female form with a sense of maturity that only experience can find… evocative of the fluid evolution for both Alena Leena and her brides this year.
Here, we chat one-on-one with designer Alyona Kostyk, and delve deeper into the unfolding and ever-romantic aesthetic of Alena Leena Bridal.
“For me, stillness is a moment of ‘forever’. It’s in the moments of calmness & peace that we can truly take a look around & feel pure life.”
For brides new to Alena Leena, tell us a little about you and how you came to start the label?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve enjoyed making dresses. However, I always treated this passion of mine as a hobby rather than a career. Designing clothes felt so natural to me that I thought everybody could do it and I never thought I could make a living with that. That’s why I first got my degrees in computer engineering and clinical psychology, only to realize that fashion is the only industry that drives me.
I enrolled at a leading university of fashion design in South Africa. During my first year of studies, I got an internship at a top couture bridal house in Cape Town. That’s how I got into the world of bridal fashion. The first person who made me think about founding my own bridal brand was my sister in law, Alina. She saw how successful the gowns I made for other designers were and insisted that we start our own bridal label. The rest, as they say, is history, and we never looked back.
Your new collection ‘Stillness’ so poetically responds to what brides are feeling for 2020. Tell us a little about what this collection means for you and your inspiration behind it?
For me, stillness is a moment of ‘forever’. It’s in the moments of calmness and peace that we can take a look around and feel pure life. Moments of stillness vary. For a couple, freshly in love, a moment of stillness is the moment they look into each other’s eyes simply between the duties of daily life. For me personally, a moment of stillness is inspiration in itself. As we fuss around throughout the day, moments of stillness are hard to come by. That’s why I cherish every opportunity to sit back, breathe deeply and let myself get inspired by people, things and the life around me.
Each of the gowns shot in the Whitsundays are named after a flower, as they are in all of my collections. The Eustoma gown creates a gone-with-the-wind effect with the billowing sleeves, an illusion of air as the bride walks down the aisle. The Calathea, adorned in streamy beaded fabric is evocative of the sea breeze and marine flora, while the Muscari is more about the stillness of water on a windless day.
You’ve developed four collections for your brides to date, ‘Wild in Bloom’, ‘The Art of Loving’, ‘The New Femininity’ and now ‘Stillness’, each unique in their own right. Tell us a little bit about each and how they’ve evolved?
Each new collection evolves in a more complicated and elaborated construction and features a different story. ‘Wild in Bloom‘ is more playful, ‘The Art of Loving‘ is more romantic, ‘The New Femininity‘ is more refined, while ‘Stillness’ is more simplistic and light. Each collection has classical, timeless appeal while each garment is twisted in a modern way and has its own voice.
I love how each collection has their own personality. I feel there is a deep, romantic allure imbued in each, with silhouettes that flatter the female form so effortlessly. What guides you in this?
I strive to make my gowns timelessly romantic, but with an edge. That’s why they resonate with brides from all over the globe. The fit of the dress is crucial for us. Construction of the gown is the most time and thought consuming process. We continuously research and develop techniques to achieve the best fitting garments.
There is a dance between beautifully minimalistic silhouettes and the more dramatic, textural designs within your collections. What advice do you have for women unsure of where to start or what would suit their bridal look?
My first advice to brides is to think about how they want to feel on their wedding day. Second, think about what you usually wear in your day to day life and which silhouette you feel most comfortable in. Minimalistic dresses are still a strong trend at the moment but my advice is to make sure that there is something unique and individual about your look if you decide to go the minimalistic way.
Play with the styling, the same dress can look different when framed with different hairstyles and accessories. I’d also recommend booking an appointment with a bridal boutique to get advice from the industry’s professionals. Bridal consultants work with different brides every day and they might provide you a fresh perspective on your dress. After all, the choice is entirely yours. Go for the dress that speaks to your personality. Listen to yourself and breathe.
“The Eustoma gown creates a gone-with-the-wind effect with the billowing sleeves, an illusion of air as the bride walks down the aisle.”
Quality designs that are sustainable, ethically & environmentally friendly is so important to brides. How do you incorporate this and uphold it throughout your processes?
Sustainability is a major factor when it comes to the creation of designs and the production of gowns. Fabric choice is the key. We use lyocell satin and crêpe that don’t pollute the environment with wastes of chemicals harmful to nature and workers. Furthermore, our taffeta and organza are made out of recycled fibre. We use trusted sustainable fabric suppliers from Europe. Our embroidered laces are sourced locally in the Ukraine which reduces the carbon footprint.
The social aspect for me personally is a priority when building up a business. Our team are based in the Ukraine and all our seamstresses are working moms. The company fully supports them. Firstly, the salary at Alena Leena Bridal is significantly higher than the average salary at a similar sewing studio in the Ukraine. Secondly, as our garments are getting more and more complicated, we steadily organize training for less-skilled employees to polish their skills, learn new techniques, and grow professionally within their own individual careers. We also provide all our seamstresses the opportunities to be flexible with their schedule and work from home so it’s easier for them to combine their work tasks with family duties.
“The Calathea, adorned in streamy beaded fabric is evocative of the sea breeze and marine flora, while the Muscari is more about the stillness of water on a windless day.”
What else can we expect from Alena Leena Bridal in 2021?
Following on from ‘Stillness’, excitingly, from 2021 indigenous trees will be planted every month on behalf of our brides in previously degraded forests across Sub-Saharan Africa to restore the ecosystem. We are excited to celebrate life with our brides while giving back to nature.
See more from each collection and upcoming trunk show details via the Alena Leena website.
Photography / Matt Godkin
Creative Direction & Fashion / The Lane
Hair & Makeup / Stojanka Bulic
Location & Accommodation / InterContinental Hayman Island Resort, Whitsundays
We would like to acknowledge the Ngaro people, Traditional Custodians of the Whitsunday Islands on which this shoot took place, paying our respects to their Elders past and present.
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