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Five minutes with….Lora Nikolaev of GENE

Launched in 2009, luxury womenswear label GENE is already stocked in several countries across the globe, including London, Moscow, New York, Paris, Israel and Eastern Europe.

The brainchild of former model and Max Factor’s Chief Make-Up Artist, Lora Nikolaev, GENE prides itself on a minimalist approach to design, with the use of luxe fabrics and a tailored aesthetic.

Launched in the UK last month, the GENE  Contradiction Collection for spring/summer 2012 brings together a sophisticated palette of black, white, petroleum green and navy on cashmere and silk. My Fashion Life caught up with Lora to talks career switching, the best shopping destinations and, of course, fashion…

Describe your typical working day

When I am in Sofia, I am in the showroom by 10am the latest. The day usually starts with my assistant and technician and a small brief of the designs we are currently working on. Drawing, emailing, talking on the phone, or just picking up some new fabrics and approving new styles fills the rest of the day. When I’m in London it’s an 8 am start, and the day is full of meetings and shopping straight through till 8pm!

What are your wardrobe staple pieces?

A black Alexander McQueen dress, Lanvin twisted black and white silk dress, GENE St Lauren jacket in white, GENE IOKO silk pants, Gene black silk playsuit with open back and a good pair of jeans. I wish I’d invented jeans!

The best destination for shopping is…

London -  the place for everything!

After having two successful careers – one as model, the other as Max Factor’s chief makeup artist – what made you decide on a career in design?

I believe my choice to be a fashion person and creative director of GENE was far beyond a personal choice; I find it more of a manifest destiny. After almost 15 years in the fashion business, I felt this was the right way to go, as I’ve gained in-depth knowledge, vision and a certain power to create a strong fashion label like GENE.

GENE is a relatively new brand, founded in 2009; what advice would you give to those starting out in this industry?

My advice would be to follow your heart in whatever you do!

What three items in your handbag can you not leave the house without?

I cannot live without my iPhone, a notebook and pencil and my beauty bag.

Who is your favourite fashion designer and why?

I adore Alexander McQueen because I find him to be a true genius! I believe his designs completed my idea of how women should look.

 Describe your failsafe day and evening outfit

For day I prefer skinny jeans, a crisp white top and Converse with any Gene jacket! For evening I go with a classy look consisting of a killer black dress, a GENE jacket and a statement clutch.

 What is your earliest fashion memory?

My earliest memory is walking around in my mom’s high heels at the age of 5! My favourite fashion memory is of a pair of vintage Vivienne Westwood boots I found in a small shop on 14th street in Manhattan. I fell in love with them instantly.

 The Contradiction Collection S/S 2012

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