a quite intersting article on Moscow style from NYT
globalisation is catching up young Russians, have a 'natural' soft spot for everything fashionable, imaginative personal style and a general love for the avant garde culture.
In Russia, Class for the Masses
By ERIN E. ARVEDLUND
Published: April 11, 2004
Homegrown designers — reflecting four years of economic growth, after a decade of stagnation in the 1990's — are starting to create clothes that average Russians might not only covet but could actually hope to afford.
For 70 years of Communism, Soviet-era designers worked in a vacuum, creating fantastical, often unwearable clothes. Now a new wave of designers is finally attempting to attract the masses, the same way Tommy Hilfiger or Zara does in the West. The Russians showed their wares for fall and winter 2004 over the 10 days of Russian Fashion Week, which ends today, on runways in a convention center at Tishinskaya Square and in a sculptor's studio.
"We love color, let's just get that out there," said Tatyana Nedzvetskaya, the director of Quoll, one of the few nationwide retail chains that sell fashions made in Russia. It is one of the few clothing retailers that cater to the country's emerging middle class: suits fetch $30 to $40, while prices range from $15 to $20 for a blouse, and a skirt costs $20.
Mass production of clothing here is so difficult that few designers even attempt it, Ms. Nedzvetskaya noted, shouting above the music of the catwalk shows, which typically drew 200 or so spectators.
Nearby, the designer Alexander Terekhov laced his leggy beauties into gold lamé 60's stewardess dresses, hot pink and blue boxing-style bathrobe minidresses and satin hair bows. A few wore Lycra miniskirts emblazoned with the silver metallic numbers 005. (James Bond, eat your heart out.)
The Russian fashion industry may still be in its infancy compared with those in New York, Paris and Milan. Local designers showed alongside small imported brands from Britain, such as Arkadius, and Heatherette from New York. But in the age of the Internet, international editions of fashion magazines and 24-hour music video channels, Russian followers of fashion have no problem keeping up with the West. On Moscow streets, trends and styles evolve with the same speed as elsewhere.
Among the best-dressed elite, the flaunting of Western luxury labels has receded a bit. Post-Soviet fashion was heavily logo-dominated after the collapse of Communism, the more obvious, the better.
International labels still dominate the wardrobe of this city's jet set: Burberry opened a store here earlier this year, joining Gucci, Prada and Ermenegildo Zegna, among others. Many of the stores post sales that rival their flagships in Western cities.
Increasingly, subtle is in. Discriminating and sophisticated young women are subtly mixing it up, layering labels with local designers and knockoffs.
The uniform for a Muscovite young thing is as transnational as in Tokyo or on the Lower East Side of Manhattan: distressed white leather boots, possibly fake, with three- to five-inch stiletto heels; Diesel jeans; red leather Gucci handbag; and a cellphone necklace.
Olga Elshkina, a 30-year-old psychologist, typifies Russian chic. Walking to a metro station on Wednesday, an unseasonably warm April afternoon, she wore only one label, a set of rose-paned wraparound Dior sunglasses. They offset a stunning red nubby-wool overcoat from a Moscow designer, plus red Italian fringe boots.
"I don't simply wear one designer," Ms. Elshkina said. "It's just not the way I want to look."
Fatima Sucher, who is the wife of a banker and is also 30, said good taste meant not having to flaunt it. A few years ago, she used to see a woman at the gym who "looked like Chanel threw up on her," Ms. Sucher said. "She had the glasses, the running pants, everything plastered with a label. In fact, she looked like an anti-Chanel campaign."
Ms. Sucher said she and many of her friends still preferred to shop for clothes abroad in New York or London, in part because the selection was broader and high-end brands tended to be slightly less expensive.
Avoiding counterfeit designer goods is also becoming a consumer nightmare. Yulia Vinogradova, who works in public relations at a finance firm, said she had returned goods to a chain of boutiques twice, "once something Chloé and something else leather," she said, "because it wasn't clear that it was real."
Russian designers are ecstatic that wealthy Muscovites are turning toward homegrown designers to mix with their global luxury labels. It means that the fashion business, so new here, can put down deeper roots.
Ms. Nedzvetskaya's Quoll chain grew from an underground business she started in 1988. Now its designers churn out two collections a season: classic fashions such as suits for older women, and a casual line of turtlenecks, jeans and denim suits called LO, for younger women.
Other ready-to-wear labels that attracted attention during Fashion Week included Maks Bohemia, designed by a team who worked as stylists for Russian MTV; Katia Mossina, who presented classic day suits; and Alyena Akhmadullina, who combined traditional Slavic motifs such as jacket clasps and sultanate pants with avant-garde designs.
Fashionistas recall that it was Alexander Arngoldt's show six months ago for spring 2004 that truly kicked Russian fashion into high gear.
His signature-look twinned pink-and-black satin hot pants and a white fur stole. His "Bond girl" model fired a real gun down the runway. This year, his satiny dresses evoked luxury and classic evening gowns.
Mr. Arngoldt agreed that art trumped commerce for years here, and to some Russian designers it always will. "Russian fashion, historically it was not a business," said Mr. Arngoldt, a native of St. Petersburg. "Here people simply loved design, period."
Strangely, for a country long roiled by politics, fashion has largely part avoided current political, social and cultural topics such as the bombing of Moscow's subway, skinhead attacks or Russia's slouch toward Singapore's so-called managed democracy.
The one exception is Denis Simachev, whose men's collection for this spring recalls "lyrical remembrances of the 80's, the last decade of the faded-away U.S.S.R.," according to the designer's Web site. Two years ago, he caused a stir with $200 T-shirts carrying the face of President Vladimir V. Putin. For next fall, he showed long-sleeved T-shirts with Cheburaskha, a beloved childhood cartoon character of the Soviet 60's, and now a favorite of Japanese girls.
Russian men's fashion has also matured toward subtlety. Gone are the days of wine-colored blazers, gun straps and uncomfortable bulges of weaponry. The suit is the thing — preferably trim-fitted, two- or three-button, plus extra-pointy black leather loafers, ideally Italian.
At Syr and Market, trendy and expensive restaurants on Moscow's Ring Road, the lunch and dinner crowd of businessmen is most often clad in Armani and Hugo Boss blue or gray woolen pinstripe suits, with a rare herringbone tweed among them, sans tie.
Among this set, Mr. Putin is an influential fashion leader. He has popularized the wearing of trendy black turtlenecks under a jacket, which was also an office-casual staple of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the oil billionaire in jail awaiting trial for alleged crimes during the 90's privatization.
On the night of his re-election last month, Mr. Putin paired a turtleneck with a black suit, a vaguely menacing ex-K.G.B. look. Of late, Mr. Khodorkovsky has been spotted at court hearings wearing a blue fleece sweatshirt and jeans.
As for business figures not in jail, the dressier suit is the new uniform of mini-oligarchs. But the accessories haven't changed. As before, they consist of an S.U.V., either Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover or Porsche, with driver, two or more bodyguards in leather jackets or camouflage and a very, very beautiful girl.
quote-As for business figures not in jail, the dressier suit is the new uniform of mini-oligarchs. But the accessories haven't changed. As before, they consist of an S.U.V., either Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover or Porsche, with driver, two or more bodyguards in leather jackets or camouflage and a very, very beautiful girl.
"It is not money that makes you well dressed: it is understanding."
Russians have historically been a major contribution in culture/science aspect of civilization. The fashion and art scene has taken off tremendously since the fall of communism, and will continue to do so. I won't be surprised in the least if there will be some major fashion talent coming out of Russia soon. However, capitalism brought all the minuses to the Russian art scene that are seen elsewhere - consumerism, commercialism, PR favoritism, etc. I am still fairly closely connected with the art scene over there - and I can say that A LOT of what's being turned out is bad quality american pop imitation (but it sells)...
Originally posted by tott+Apr 12th, 2004 - 11:33 am--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(tott @ Apr 12th, 2004 - 11:33 am)</div><div class='quotemain'> <!--QuoteBegin-faust@Apr 12th, 2004 - 4:23 pm All I have to say, Cheburashka ROCKS
That's Drutten, as in Drutten & Jena!! I used to watch them when I was a kid!
Seems like Swedish television bought the concept and adapted their names... [/b][/quote]
I wouldn't be surprised if they got it for free. I'm not sure if you know this but Lindgren's Karlsson is probably THE most popular children's character in Russia.
I don't really agree with the article... I mean it's sooo condescending...
Russian women are famous all over the world for dressing well, and sexy, now and during Communism. Imagine that! That wasn't easy, but they did it...
This article makes it sound like fashion is a new concept for most Russians. What were they wearing all these years? Well, a lot of people had imported clothes, and whole lotta people sewed their own clothes according to the latest fashion. I assure you Russian women dressed no worse than American. And that's a fact!
And FYI, the majority of Russian women still dress better than most American women do (and they are less fat than American, and a lot more attractive than French and English women, sorry but it's true) . Anyone who goes to Moscow notices that right at the airport...
So, this article was definitely written from an ignorant standpoint, and reeks of American propaganda. It's amazing, the cold war is over but they still can't overcome their dislike and fear of Russians. Most of them don't even know much about them, and this is where these articles come from. Very CNN...
Oh, yeah, right now I totally understand what Paul Newman meant when he said that NYT is a trash can...