Founders | Women Series | Olivia Dar

Women series is a monthly edit to explore creative entrepreneurship amongst women globally. Through this series, we wish to understand creative journeys, challenges, inspirations and develop a community.

OLIVIA DAR

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Tell me about how your creative journey started. Did you have creative influences growing up?  What education/ training did you receive?

I am from a family of creatives: musicians, painters, illustrators..   My mom worked for a beautiful high end french textile brand, so I was raised with music and beautiful textiles.As a child, during the holidays I would stay at my grand mothers who taught me how to embroider, knit, crochet and sew,.We would embroider our own cushions with a motif and our name, it became a tradition for all the cousins. I was fascinated by her colourful sewing box : it was full of ribbons, buttons trims, threads. I did a masters in cinema studies in Paris and Montreal.

My years working for the French Haute Couture was the best training, I did embroideries and accessories for Christian Lacroix: I learned a lot about hand embroidery, techniques, style. For one of his last shows, I made all the earrings, bracelets and belts, I was very proud. The haute couture ateliers were in the heart of Paris, in the most beautiful 19th-century buildings and I was lucky that I got to spend time with the best artisans/makers in French fashion.

What has been the source of inspiration for you( people, travel,  places, cultures etc)?

Being raised between Italy, England, and France, traveling has always been a big part of my life and my inspiration. I like to meet artisans when I travel: lace makers in Sri Lanka, tapestry makers in Sardinia, carpet weaver in Alentejo, Portugal. Most of them were women. All our collections are inspired by a place I have traveled to, we did a Greek collection that was highly inspired by the imagery and the colors in Greece: eyes, ex voto, a lot of cobalt and white. I am going this summer to Sicily and Mexico and I am really looking forward to meeting crafts people (usually women) to see the textiles, the museums, study their imagery, especially in Mexico. All our jewelry pieces are named after an exotic place I have been to or want to go (ex: Paro's eye earrings, Alghero earrings, Havana..)

Can you also talk about your experience of working in India and Paris? Do you think your cultural identity brought influences at work?

I definitely brought my French identity to work: I made a conscious decision from the beginning to have a working space that would be a safe zone for women of all social backgrounds. A place where we could feel comfortable in the way we dress, a place were women take decisions, where women have a voice. My cultural identity is also very visible in the style of the brand, and I think we have managed to blend French style with a strong Indian influence.

What is the step forward for your personal projects? Would you like to share any?  Could you comment about 'being a creative soul' and  How does travel facilitate your ideas?

We are growing the brand in the US, South America, and Europe, so that keeps me really busy. One of the challenges I face now is to find the time to be creative. I get caught in all the other aspects of running the business. Travelling definitely allows me to take a step back and allows me to think about the next projects. My husband (who has a menswear brand, Kardo) and I  travel a lot, usually off the beaten tracks, as far as possible from touristic spots. We would love to do a project oriented around travel, crafts, and food, now we just have to find the time to do it

Any Brands that caught your attention?

I saw the Comme des garçons show at the Met and I am fascinated by the work of Rei kawabuko and other Japanese brands like Sacai

http://www.oliviadar.com/