The Arrival of the "It" Girls

Just a Russian Fashion Revolution

1 NOVEMBER 2014,
Ulyana Sergeenko | New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter Feb 12, 2013 © Mode Pure
Ulyana Sergeenko | New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter Feb 12, 2013 © Mode Pure

I have never traveled to Russia, and yet I can recommend that you try borscht. However, keep the sour cream on hand if you want to change the flavour of the dish entirely.

Food, like fashion is one of the many passions in my life - it has introduced me to the heart of many cultures. Offering snippets and insight into worlds miles away, particularly Russia. Russian cuisine is popular, but it’s the fashion that has been pressing its foot down, and leaving a bigger print in the world lately. The fashion designers of the world’s leading luxury brands have been influenced by Russia greatly. The ateliers in Paris provide noteworthy examples.

Christian Dior fell for the allure of Russia and became the first designer from the west to host a fashion show there in 1959. The show took place in Moscow’s House of Culture, named ʻWings Of The Sovietsʼ. Models later walked the famous Red Square providing those who did not attend the event an opportunity to see Dior’s designs. Although at the time many of the women who witnessed the western fashion invasion were still reeling from the effects of World War II, Dior was clearly taken with Russia - later he created the iconic Prince Igor dress. Then, there was that time when Yves Saint Laurent created a wedding dress that would turn a bride into a living matryoshka doll. While, The French Couturier Coco Chanel, notorious for her turbulent affairs, had one with the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, the Grand Duke founded Kitmir, a business specializing in bead and sequins embroidery used often by Chanelʼs atelier. Chanel N°5 happened to have been created by the Russian-French perfumer, Ernest Beaux. Karl Lagerfeldʼs 2009 Chanel fashion show was a throwback to the infamous Paris-Moscow connection. It must be that mysterious Russian soul that has captivated many of France’s fashion designers.

Russia ignited a sensation when the ballet “Ballet Russes” by Serge Diaghilev came to France in 1909. Other ballet productions followed soon, captivating audiences with their avant-garde style. In 1911 Paul Poiretʼs introduction of embroidery began to spread into the Paris fashion scene along with Cossack boots. He had traveled, like Christian Dior would later do, to Russia, fell for its beauty and helped the launch of Slavic elements into the fashion scene across Europe and into the UK.

Today the revival of Russian fashion is gaining popularity once more with the help of Russian fashion designers, and the infamous ʻitʼ girls. Miroslava Duma, Vika Gazinskaya, Elena Perminova, Ulyana Sergeenko and Anya Ziourova are the “it” girls, affectionately deemed “the fashion mafia”. These five women are showcasing the Russian women’s love of style, and fashion. In addition they are favourites amongst street style photographers, think: Tommy Ton, and the Sartorialists Scott Schuman. Vika Gazinskaya and Ulyana Sergeenko are not only street style stars, but fashion designers, too. Vika Gazinskaya is gaining popularity in Europe, especially after the release of her collaborative line with the H&M affiliate “& Other Stories”. As for Ulyana Sergeenkoʼs success, her collections debut at Paris Fashion Week yearly, and her dresses have been seen on Dita Von Teese, Lady Gaga and Fan Bing Bing.

Of course, Vika and Ulyana are not the only designers to come out of Russia. Alexander Terekhov is another. Famous for designs offering luxe minimalism, and Valentin Yudashkinʼs collections are reminiscent of Haute Couture. Russian fashion holds a very feminine appeal, and embroidery is still a favourite among the designers who stick to their Russian roots.

The Fashion world is also seeing an increase in Russian models. Sasha Luss, for example is a newcomer, and already a favourite on the runways. The model is known for her pale features, and thin, delicate frame. She is climbing the same ranks as her predecessors the famous Russian born models, Natalia Vodianova and Irina Shayk.

Over the years, Russia has made comebacks and contributions to fashion. This time something’s different, the Fashion World is going to be seeing a lot more from Russian fashion designers, models and style icons.