Interview with Aspinal of London Creative Director, Mariya Dykalo

Earlier this year we announced the appointment of the Aspinal of London Creative Director Mariya Dykalo, recognised for her passion for colour and desire to create fresh, contemporary collections.

We sat down for a quick chat with Mariya to hear all about what inspires her, her background in design, and what life is like behind the scenes at Aspinal…

Congratulations on being appointed Creative Director! Tell us a little bit about what you do..
8 months ago I was appointed Creative director, but I have been with Aspinal for the last 8 years. I have created all of Aspinal’s handbag collections, including our best selling Marylebone Tote and Brook street Bag, but SS14 is my first full collection.


What’s it like working with the Design team?
We have quite a small team, but everybody is very passionate and hardworking. They are all the nicest girls and such pleasure to work with.

Sounds like fun. And how did you first get into design?
I come from Lviv, a beautiful unspoiled city in West Ukraine, where I graduated from the National Academy with a Masters in Art and Design, I studied for 7 years, training in both Ready to Wear and Accessories Design.
And before, just to gain entrance, I studied for 3 years at Technical College, learning pattern making, sewing, stitching, construction and fashion design. I know that sounds like too much studying, but you know how it is in Eastern Europe- education is the way to achieve something in your life and have a better future.
After graduating from the Academy, I came to England to learn English at Chichester College and discovered an advert for an internship at Aspinal, their head office not far from Chichester. That was my lucky break – I have stayed with Aspinal ever since, which is now nearly 8 years!

Wow! It must be hard to find fresh ideas for each new collection, where do you get inspiration from, season after season?
Our SS 14 collection has been inspired by naughty film The Go-Between, directed by Joseph Losely, based on the novel by L. P. Hartley, about a hazy British summer in the countryside in 1900. It’s a romantic love story, starring Alan Bates and Julie Christie… I fell in love with her leisurely beauty and sculpted elegance and fell in love with the incredible English scenes, landscapes and nature. We wanted to bring these beautiful and fresh English country colours to the town and have painted our Spring/Summer collection in bright poppy red, baby deer brown and cricket ivory white. Navy blue and deep beetle black have been mixed together with smooth, textured saffiano leather and added soft nubuck to give products luxurious feel.


This AW’14 collection has been inspired by the historical Hampton Court Palace: incredible architecture, furniture and detailing in every piece you pass and touch in the Palace, and inside the Royal Chapel- I have been many times with my 7 year old son, and have seen all of the series The Tudors, it’s brilliant, with really incredible costumes and jewellery.
The key detail for the AW collection was a Tudor rose, which we developed into a piece of art to create the Tudor clasp for limited edition bags, named after wives of Henry VIII. It has taken us more than a year to develop this collection.
Last SS 13 was inspired by the traditional English novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson-Burnett, published 100 years ago.
This collection was dedicated to the beauty of the British garden, especially English roses. I did an oil painting with English roses, which has been created as artwork for limited edition handbags and accessories, and printed into the leather with a special but complicated technique, where you still feel the depth of the paintwork and the texture of the petals. I think it was a charming and artistic collection.
I guess I get inspired by the beautiful English countryside where I live.. beautiful old houses and palaces full of history are always full of inspiration, magic and stories. And I love creating beautiful things …

So how long does each collection take to design?
I would say each collection takes 8 months from ideas and inspiration to full complete collection It’s takes about 4 months for ideas, designs, choosing leathers, building plan range, complete technical drawing, finalise fabrication for each bag, etc.
And another 4 months to develop metal hardwear and sample leather and finally to sample products. Certain special collections might take up to a year to create from design to a final sample.

And of course we have to ask, do you have a favourite Aspinal of London product?
Of course – all our products are my babies – so to me they are all part of the Aspinal Family, but right now it’s the Marylebone Tote. As soon as this tote was launched it instantly became the best selling Aspinal signature bag, and we have created The Marylebone Family for SS’14. But our Iconic Aspinal styles are the Brook Street, The Hepburn, The Manhattan.. elegant, classic and perhaps traditional…but investments that last a life time.

When you’re not busy with work, what do you enjoy doing in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?
My passion is my painting. I love working with the oil and palette knife; I love exploring colours and textures .
If I need to do anything else to take my head away then I go and paint. This doesn’t have any production problems and I can do what ever I want, like a crazy cat or a horse.. and I love painting flowers.

Obviously fashion and style are important to you, who epitomises style in your opinion? Is there anyone you’d love to carry your designs?
I adore Julie Christie, I’ve recently seen The Go-Between movie starring Julie Christie, she’s so beautiful and elegant, which is why she and the movie became the inspiration for our Spring/Summer collection.
I always look up to and admire beautiful, talented and successful women. And I always get inspired by iconic and glamorous beauties like Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Princess Diane, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Catherine Deneuve, Greta Garbo.
I would love to see Aspinal bags carried by Keira Knightly, Helen Mirren, Naomi Watts, Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne and Princess Catherine.
Thank you for sharing that with us Mariya. We can’t wait for your SS’14 Collection to arrive!