Meet the shadow couturier of St. Petersburg Ksenia Podvalnaya. She dressed up Kylie Jenner! 😳

You have hardly heard the name of Ksenia Podvalnaya, a couturier from St. Petersburg, while over the past five years her studio “Beads” has dressed Lena Perminova, Vera Brezhneva and even (instafact!) Kylie Jenner in sequins, feathers and bows. Our editor Alla Sharandina tells how the wife of the founder of the empire “Velikie Luki Meat-Processing Plant” became a leader in slow fashion and manual labor.

Family comes first

The cafes on the territory of Divo Ostrov are branded by the Velikie Luki Meat Processing Plant, even if the most protein item on their menu is creamy ice cream. The logo of the plant on each umbrella, plus huge billboards with advertisements for sausages, in the direction of which (literally) visitors of the amusement park are catapulted, make it clear that the same company owns both enterprises. More precisely, one family.

And although businessman Vladimir Podvalny, like no one else, knows a lot about straightforward cross-marketing, nowhere in the park is there a hint of the Biser atelier, whose owner, director and chief designer of which is his wife Ksenia. Oversight? No, the position: “My husband would prefer that I was engaged in a meat-packing plant, pigs, children, and not be distracted by them,” says Ksenia Podvalnaya. In principle, it is not very clear to us how one can manage to be distracted by at least something with six heirs (three in common, very small), but for five years the mother-heroine calls herself the “editor” of the amusement park and her own couture atelier. At least, this is how her position in the Instagram header is indicated.

“Strictly speaking, I am my husband’s secretary bird. I constantly compose letters, appeals, inquiries based on his work. So from the list of professions that automatically suggested Instagram for a business profile, I chose her. And this is true: in the atelier, I also do not build patterns and do not sew myself. And you can say, I edit – sketches and sometimes the wishes of clients. “


Only custom tailoring is subjected to soft editing: if Ksenia is present at the fitting of a fantasy outfit according to the customer’s sketch, then she can carefully advise to move the waistline or add length. But he does not insist: everyone has different tastes, and the atelier was conceived in 2015 exactly as a service department – to sew a Chanel it-jacket from the only size 38 in the Paris stock to the required 34, assemble a dream dress with a puzzle in a dozen patterns, repeat outfit from the cinema. “Recently, our designer pissed off the whole family, including in the evening fifty times to repeat the erotic scene from“ Atonement ”by Joe Wright,” – Ksenia fires into the story. Meanwhile, the designer just burned at work: the intricate drapery of Keira Knightley’s very coveted dress can be seen only when James McAvoy rips it off the actress.

“Me and my girls like to conduct such investigations,” the mistress of “Biser” gives sincere confession, not without reason that she began her student life at the University of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Although she planned to become an architect, she received a diploma in the direction of “electronic business” in Bonch-Bruevich. But Xenia’s dreams of couture have been flickering since childhood – Diphenhydramine will not let you lie: “I used to dress dolls and my dog. We had a dachshund named Diphenhydramine (both my grandparents and parents are veterinarians). The poor dog patiently wore ruffled dresses that I sewed for him from my old outfits. When asked why he walks in female characters, she gave out the version that he was an actor in a medieval theater. “

Ksenia did not deprive herself of clothes either: “I have always liked beautiful things. And not to shine in them on the pages of anything. I don’t have many social events, and it happens to wear bows and feathers for a regular family dinner. Let it not be very useful, but very impressive! I admire cool clothes, even if they have been hanging in the closet for ten years. The main thing is to hang it in perfect condition, like in a museum. In short, I’m a rag picker. Or Plyushkin. It’s hard to decide. “

Haute couture

Actually, the Biser atelier (named after the maiden handicraft surname of the hostess – Biserova) arose five years ago with the utilitarian goal of keeping her own wardrobe in order. Ksenia approached the question responsibly and first of all she studied the theory in the courses on cutting and sewing. Then I designed a couple of kits for relatives – my mother (“I was pregnant again, and there was no point in tailoring it for myself”) and my husband. The strict spouse, by the way, still often uses the services of the atelier, although he considers him the side story of the family corporation.

For several months, Ksenia handed over the execution of her orders and orders of friends to the teacher of the courses she had taken. But there were more and more clients, and the workshop did not cope with the stated deadlines. And the quality of processing was also lacking, because “the thing must be beautiful from the inside and outside.”

Now every seam and every button is under the vigilant control of six employees of the atelier. Finding the seventh designer became a challenge for almost two years: “As it turned out, we have very complex products. Nobody copes with the test task. And the schedule suits few – if there is an urgent order from Moscow, then you need to have time to transfer it with an overnight train on the same day, which means staying late. Each of our craftswomen can do something that no one else can do! One hand makes the loops for men’s suits (in Italian and French factories, whole departments are engaged in this), the other could give a course on the history of the corset. Olga Bogdanova, the head of our craftswomen, is responsible for all the magic – she once worked as a tailor in the Leningrad House of Models, the first in the USSR. “

Social distance

Half of Bead’s orders are remote. Measurements are offered to be removed in the studio closest to the house or online in the zoom under the guidance of cutters. “It’s convenient to do it in those ten minutes when the children have already gone to bed, and you haven’t passed out yet,” Ksenia says competently. And in most cases, there are no problems with cutting.

Only if we are not talking about the outstanding volumes of Kylie Jenner. Yes! One fine day, Instagram stylist Jill Jacobs contacted Ksenia. The suit that Kylie’s team had requested had to (of course!) Be altered. Gullible designers for some time resisted the submitted data, googling Kylie’s measurements in a search engine.

But in the end, they built a shimmery nude outfit with a perfect fit. This set after the shooting Jenner was safely returned to St. Petersburg by transatlantic delivery. “This is a completely atypical story,” says Ksenia. – Usually instabloggers take a thing for good, whatever our agreements. Russian influencers often write with suggestions, but I honestly don’t see the point in most of the proposed collaborations. The audience of such young ladies is determined to buy beauty pillows, not expensive clothes. “

Every week in the @atelierbiser directive there are requests like “I’m going to Cannes, I need a dress”. Or “I am a model, ready to star in your bow in the Crimea.” But Xenia dismisses them with cross-examination: “Who are you? How did you get to the festival? Why are your subscribers closed Arabic pages? If you are a model, how can you not be aware of the mechanics of working through agencies? ” Even one course at the University of the Ministry of Internal Affairs makes itself felt!


A careful attitude to the promotion of their things is a reflection of a careful approach to their creation. Atelier “Beads” will diligently research materials: something can be found in Beltissu on Podrezova, something in La Bottega and in “VILIA”.
The necessary accessories sometimes come across only in the “Fashionista” network. (“But the client will pay a thousand rubles less.”) The atelier orders embroidery with varying success in the capital (“Sometimes you want to strangle them with the same cloth!”). Lace travels from France and Italy. Feathers with a certificate of veterinary origin – from an English factory. Their extraction was also the result of a police investigation. The owner of the atelier figured out the real manufacturer based on the Moscow packaging and sent an e-mail to the factory: “Do it yourself more reliably and faster.”

Ksenia is not ready to delegate tasks yet. Even in SMM: “It’s not about the spelling mistakes of the applicants – I also have them, and I’m really glad when they correct me. It’s just that the text itself on fashion instagram shouldn’t be graphomania. There isn’t much of it, it’s not a mom’s blog. And catch up with the line about the enveloping veil of moire
definitely not worth it. ” Direct answers also remain with the owner of the atelier: “The girls can calculate the material consumption and deadlines, but the nuances of pricing are known only to me. Suppose some fabric came to the customs office for a meter more – and it became more expensive. And if you push me right, I can make concessions on the markup. Calculating all the nuances, I sometimes answer by lunch the next day. And I am probably losing some of my demanding clients on this – what an undignified slow office, huh? But on the other hand, I am sure that my answer will be correct whenever it comes. And in form, and in content, and in numbers. ” Demandingness has a downside: Ksenia does not see her atelier in mass production: “No one needs 150 identical couture dresses in feathers”. But if someone passionately wanted the first three, this is definitely fashion. Or maybe art.

Text: Alla Sharandina
Photo: Abdula Artuev

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