Olena Zylak debuted her collection of luxury Canadian-made knitwear in 1997, quickly becoming a recognized name in Canadian fashion. The next two years saw the designer pick up a handful of prestigious awards, including City of Toronto New Designer of the Year, the Style Magazine New Designer Award, and the Eveleen Dollery New Canadian Designer Award.
National media coverage immediately followed, with Zylak being featured in Canada's largest newspapers, and in virtually every Canadian women's lifestyle magazine. Celebrities were quick to take notice, with stars such as Prince, Juliette Lewis, Olivia Newton-John and Natalie Cole all being spotted wearing Zylak's distinctive designs.
In addition to the line being carried in select boutiques across North America, Zylak consistently appears at leading artisan shows, such as Toronto's One Of A Kind Show (since 1998), and more recently at Circle Craft in Vancouver.
Zylak uses yarns of luxury fibres to create a highly textured line that is as precious and fragile as it is sensual and strong.
A Toronto native, Olena Zylak now lives and works in historic Collingwood, Ontario.
Image gallery: Olena Zylak in the studio >
Olena Zylak knit her first sweater at age 17 and serendipitously discovered her calling in life.
Over the next few years she designed and knit sweaters for virtually everyone she knew, and later began her professional career in Toronto as a costume builder for major productions such as Ragtime, Showboat, Tommy and Fosse.
In the summer of 1997, Zylak moved on from the world of theatre, using her evolved skill set to create her own knitwear line.
Yes, that Prince. While in Toronto, his royalness bought an Olena Zylak chunky merino turtleneck with suede fringe, and strutted out to a Raptors basketball game. Needless to say, the Purple One’s fashionable appearance was headline news — a shot of Prince donning the sweater appeared in the Toronto Sun the following day.
Beaded kid mohair web scarves by Olena Zylak were bought for the shooting of Claire (directed by Bruce MacDonald). Lewis undoubtedly enjoyed the scarf, as she continued to wear it during promotional interviews in support of the film.
Olivia Newton-John & Natalie Cole
Retailers report that both of these megastars chose Olena Zylak beaded kid mohair web shawls while shopping in Toronto.
Zylak’s knitwear has been featured in The Globe And Mail, The Toronto Star, The Vancouver Sun, The Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Magazine, Ottawa Life Magazine, Toronto Life Magazine, Toronto Life Fashion, Flare, Elle Canada, Elle Quebec, Clin d’oeil, Fashion, Chatelaine, Lucky, Harry (Harry Rosen Magazine), Canadian Living, Canadian Hairdresser, Salon, Elm Street, Sportswear International, WWD, and even a Canadian National Ballet season programme.
The Olena Zylak collection is carried by finer stores across North America.