The Russian fashion elite (also known as the “Russian Fashion Pack”) are having a moment right now, one that may have culminated yesterday in street-style-star-turned-designer Ulyana Sergeenko’s debut couture collection.
Rolling out right in between Chanel and Armani Privé’s shows, the couture collector’s first-ever collection was an ode to her country’s folklore and heritage, complete with babushkas, hand-carved wooden shoes and fur-lined military coats. Grace Coddington and Carine Roitfeld sat front row, which if anything, is a testament to Sergeenko and the rest of the Russian Fashion Pack’s appeal right now.
“America has Jackie O, and the world has Audrey Hepburn, but Russia never had a fashion icon of the moment,” Anya Ziourova, the fashion director of the Russian version of Tatler, told the New York Times in a feature titled “The Czarinas Are Back.” “Maybe that is what is happening: the modern Russian icons are being born.”
If street style blogs are any indication of style, then the Russian fash-pack has it in spades. Something about their individually distinct aesthetics and sartorial risk-taking has caught heavy-hitting and influential photographers’ eyes, turning them into fashion stars overnight.
Take designer Vika Gazinskaya, for example: the Russian gamine quickly gained visibility online, thanks to heavily circulated photographs of her by Garance Doré, Scott Schuman and Tommy Ton across the blogosphere. In a strategic move, she wore her own designs to the fashion show circuit, and thanks to the blogosphere pics, the move worked out: her pieces are now carried at Colette in Paris and Fivestory in New York.
There’s also Miroslava (or Mira) Duma, the daughter of a Russian senator and the former editor of Russia’s Harper’s Bazaar, who has become as known (if not more so) for her quirky, colourful style as her popular fashion website Buro 24/7.
And then, of course, there’s Sergeenko, arguably the leader of the pack: like her couture collection on Tuesday, the former model’s signatures are full, ‘50s-esque skirts paired with tight wool sweaters, dramatic Russian touches like babushkas and stunning makeup that hearkens back to another time.
The leading ladies of the Russian Fashion Pack may have some deep pockets (Sergeenko’s husband is an insurance billionaire), but their inimitable style and work is what’s really distinguishing them among their peers.
Anya Ziourova, fashion director of Russian Tatler: “We were a closed country for a long time, so for a while, it was like a kid going into a candy shop. . . it is only now, in the last five years, that taste has been evolving into something more sophisticated, something that might attract people beyond Russia.” [The New York Times]
Suzy Menkes: “By dipping into the folklore world of peasants and soldiers, rather than czars, Ms. Sergeenko produced appealing day clothes, like knitted sweaters with full skirts, and gave her show a sweet freshness.” [The New York Times Fash File]
Randi Bergman, online editor: “I’ve always had a soft spot for the extravagant elements of Russian history and culture and so naturally, I freak out when these ladies show up at Fashion Week. Before Sergeenko’s couture debut, I think the group existed more on the fringes, at least in North America, so I hope this collection helps them infiltrate in a real and impactful way. Personally, I need a lot more haute babushka in my life.”
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