For those who do not know Olga Iserlis, research ‘the most beautiful and sought-after events in Singapore’ and you simply cannot miss her must attend creations. An event organizer extraordinaire, Adagio Events by Olga Iserlis are renowned for their authenticity, meticulous planning and intimate stylish and out-of-the-box experiences.
At the helm of Olga, her A-list clients span from Audemars Piguet, Alta Gioielleria Dolce & Gabbana, Diane von Fürstenberg, Valentino to Ferrari as well as fundraising balls for Singapore Repertory Theatre and other cultural institutions. Her invaluable contribution to every brand’s successful event is second to none.
While event planning is put on hold in Singapore where she is currently based, she has a newfound passion project with fellow creative minds.
‘Conversations with Olga’; an IGTV series fostering intellectual and cultural exchange between influential individuals from around the world. “My main mission has been to bring these talks to a platform that is accessible and interesting for our multicultural community.”
Olga is a storyteller and a poet, as seen through every stage of her events but we cannot help and take notice of her other works. Written Instagram captions are often overlooked by beautiful images, but not on Olga’s. Her words are descriptive and expressive, it makes a reader imagine and somehow transports them into the image she has envisioned. A mind that creates events both memorable and overwhelmingly beautiful.
The Social Butterfly
How did your upbringing both personal and professional shaped you to the Olga Iserlis today?
I grew up in a very cultured, yet extremely restricted and politically repressive, in a way, place- the former Soviet Union. Learning how to cope with the situation my family faced at that time in St. Petersburg, coming to America when I was a teenager just with my mother, with little money, made me grow up very quickly. I learned how to adapt, how not to take anything for granted, and how to hustle. My mother always taught me that anything can be taken away from you except your education. This notion was one of the most important lessons that I have learned. Being the person I am now certainly comes from my childhood, and years of embracing the different cultures; adapting to the unknown; and following my passions with no fear.
Given your health care, finance and management background, how was the journey in becoming one of the most sought-after event planner in Singapore and the world?
I have been exposed to a creative world since I was a child. I have played the violin, studied art and literature, and yet I am not a musician and I cannot draw. Creating celebrations of life in a unique way gives me an opportunity to express my creativity and management skills I have learned in my college days and graduate school.
Supporting causes through a number of fundraising events and activations I stage, has given me an opportunity to give back to the society, and raise funds for these important causes.
Which have been the most memorable experiences you have created via your company?
It is a hard question to answer, as every single event I have worked on is very special to me. Just like children, there are no favorite ones…However, there is one project that I would call the most exceptional in terms of the complexity, scale and challenges. It is the Retrospective of Valentino Exhibition I staged in Singapore some years back. I even have a whole separate chapter about it in my book ‘Save The Date’.
[Valentino Retrospective Past/ Present/ Future] was shown for the first time in Asia at Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore, 2010. This major exhibition was developed by Les Arts Decoratifs of Paris and showcased 100 haute couture creations, worn by glamorous Hollywood celebrities and members of royalty. It spanned from the 1950s up to present day under the creative directors, Maria Grazia and Pier Paolo Piccioli].
How has Adagio Events pivoted during the pandemic?
I am very fortunate to know incredible people around the world and I like to bring happiness or something interesting to people's lives, and this is the way I started with ‘Conversation with Olga’. This is something I want to give back to the Singaporean Multicultural Society and to the world. I started with IGTV rather than just a podcast because I love seeing the energy of people I am conversing with, their body language, sparkle in their eyes and smile on their faces.
I have also been staging intimate and special lifestyle events for a number of brands. I think the beauty of particular small events is the communication and connections amongst people.
What does being a gentle woman mean to you?
A gentle woman for me means to be grounded yet uplifting; confident yet vulnerable; loyal yet honest; kind yet strong; stylish yet understated. A gentle woman believes in herself, as this will always project positivity, and she will shine from within.
From your many passions in the arts, events management, music, books and culture, what would you say makes your heart skip a beat and why?
It might sound cliché, but it is the success of my children. I am extremely proud of their accomplishments, and observing their incredible passions, and unconventional careers, in a way, certainly makes my heart to skip a beat.
The Globe Trotter
What are your tips for packing smart when you want to look amazing wherever you go?
I am still learning how to pack light, and it is a work in progress.
Here are my simple tips:
Layering → I always think about my days during the trip when I do not have time to go back to the hotel to change for an evening outing, therefore, white blouse layered with a jacket.
My go-to items → A scarf that can be folded inside my bag; flats that have a bit of a sparkle yet comfortable for the day.
Light pieces → I have also learned not to take too many clothes that are heavy, therefore, light linens, cashmeres, silks are the easiest and less space consuming pieces to pack.
The rule of thumb for me is to take a few basics that are easy to accessorize to create a new look.
Is there any place you are excited to discover when borders are open again?
So many! I just wrote a post this week where I mentioned that going back to familiar places would be my choice these days, rather than to explore new places. The pandemic has taught me that the old become new, and I crave to experience this again. My favorite destinations are the ones where I feel the energy of people around me.
How do you think as part of a creative community we can support each other better?
Communications. One of the reasons I have started my IGTV/YouTube series ‘Conversation with Olga’ is to foster the cultural exchanges between different communities all around the world. My main mission has been to bring these talks to a platform that is accessible and interesting for our multicultural community.
You have achieved so much in your life from opening a bagel business, writing your own book and creating sensational parties, is there anything else on the horizon for you?
I believe that we all need to evolve and progress. This is an essence of living a full life. I always have dreams, and am trying my best to follow them. Stay tuned!
To see how she has helped us create the most intimate wedding or event gathering set up at home, read more here.
*This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.