Workspaces of Mass Exodus: Olga Okhrimenko

Inside Kerr Hall South, there’s a large studio where Ryerson fashion design students hustle to finish their collections for Mass Exodus. Throughout the wide room, bolts of fabrics, sketchbooks, and miscellaneous tools are scattered on every work table. Behind a cluttered row of mannequins, Olga Okhrimenko, a fourth-year fashion design student, has leftover fabrics, black ropes, and spools of thread in a small stack of boxes. Her workspace is at the back of the studio and it’s disheveled. This is the reality of fashion. It’s unfathomable to have a spotless workspace.

Okhrimenko will present her collection, O’Sailee, on April 10 among 64 others at the Student Learning Centre. Last summer, Okhrimenko spent her weekends sailing Lake Ontario. O’Sailee celebrates the freedom of being on open waters. Her nautical inspiration led her designs to incorporate sailing elements of wood and ropes.

“I was so fascinated at seeing all of the ropes going round and round and making different knots,” said Okhrimenko. “I really love the way ropes perform, they’re durable. They can survive the sun and bad weather, yet they still look interestingly beautiful.”

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Once summer was over, Okhrimenko could not stop thinking about sailboats when she came back to Ryerson. She quickly put this inspiration down on paper. One of her designs is a handbag made out of triangular wooden pieces and black leather fabric.

“I can come up with my designs from [drawing on] a napkin, or sometimes in a book, anything that I have handy, so I can just write or sketch it,”  she said.

However, Okhrimenko can get design inspiration from fabrics as well.

“I love going fabric shopping, because I can understand how this fabric can be draped,” she said.

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Ever since September 2015, Okhrimenko has worked non-stop on O’Sailee, which started from mood boards and sketches. By the end of December, she created prototypes of each look and received lots of feedback from professors with fix notes. Finally, in the winter semester, final pieces are designed and small details such as hair, makeup, and model fittings are decided.

O’Sailee demonstrates feminine beauty with ease. Okhrimenko wanted to show what a woman would wear while travelling on a sailboat.

“In the collection, everything is stretchable and you don’t feel structured into the clothes. Like I made overalls with leg space, so you don’t feel bounded by any rules,” said Okhrimenko.

Some pieces are comfortable. For example, there are knitted shorts, a lightweight white sweater, and a beach dress with rope elements. Although rope may not be the most cozy material, Okhrimenko designed the ropes like back straps on the dress.

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“I need to bring the inspiration out of the collection for those who don’t know where it’s coming from,” she said.

Despite feeling stressed and somewhat fearful, Okhrimenko knows she has accomplished her initial design plan: to capture the beauty of sailing through the medium of apparel.

Photos by Cherileigh Co