Fashion & Beauty
FROM ITALY WITH LOVE
FASHION&BEAUTY SPOKE WITH IRINA GUDKOVA, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF THE ITALIAN COMPANY IFD, ONE OF THE KEY DISTRIBUTORS OF FASHION BRANDS IN THE FORMER SOVIET UNION
Where did your love for Italy begin and why did you choose this country in particular to live?
I arrived in Italy in 1988 following the man I loved, whom I met in Moscow. He was from Sicily, he was very handsome, cheerful and temperamental. I knew his homeland only from the TV series The Octopus. I associated Sicily then with the mafia and, at the same time, with the ‘dolce vita’ concept. We were still students, and we listened to romantic Italian songs in which the singers conveyed such love.
Since moving, have your ideas changed?
In reality, there turned out to be a lot of contrasts in Italy, but it’s impossible not to fall in love with it. A brilliant, friendly country, filled with talented and passionate people. Over the years I have put down roots in this land, and I consider it my second home.
Today IFD is one of the leaders of the Russian fashion market. What led to this success?
You can be successful in many ways. It’s important to love what you do and to believe that you’ll succeed. A big breakthrough for me was working with my own husband (Sergio Pea, managing director of IFD since 1985. He started his career in Alma S.p.a. working with such brands as Gianni Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, Thierry Mugler, etc. – Ed.). He had a rich managerial experience within Italian companies, while I perfectly knew the Russian mentality and the Russian market. But genuine success came when we changed our company’s strategy. We avoided being just a “buying office” and started working as an agent and partner of many brands with exclusive contracts for distribution. Today our office is equipped with the latest technology. But most important are the people who’ve worked with us for almost 15 years who are an integral part of our success.
Do you often visit Russia? In which countries do you enjoy working most?
Since our main business is fashion, it’s vital that we maintain physical presence in Milan and Paris. If we’re talking about jewellery, or about creativity in particular: looking for stones, creating design, then I choose Brazil! I really love this country in spite of its many contrasts. I also come to Russia when necessary.
Talk about your iG Jewels brand. For you, is this more of a business project, or means of creative self-expression?
Everything started out simply as a hobby. Every time I travelled I looked for interesting precious and semi-precious stones, and then I ordered gem cutting at my Neapolitan jewelers. I became so fascinated by this knowledge that I started attending design and gemmology courses. With the time my friends and associates started asking me to design jewelry for them. My jewelers, Gino and Fulvio Mello, offered a business partnership to me, and thus iG Jewels brand was born. Today it’s hard to call my activity a business project. It’s still really a hobby, but I don’t discount the possibility that it could grow into something more..