Russian Fashion Week was launched 17 years ago i.e. in 1999. Since then it became Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia and the designers are currently showcasing their Spring/Summer ’17 collections in Moscow. Over the past 20 years Russian designers have been making names for themselves in the international fashion market. As MBFWR is underway take a look back at 11 unforgettable collections from some of Russia’s and Georgia’s most talented designers.
Set in a mythical underwater locale, Alena Akhmadullina’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection proved that fashion is more than pretty dresses and expensive handbags but rather a portable artwork. Inspired by Sadko, a medieval Russian epic and Hokusai’s The Great Wave of Kanagawa, Akhmadulina transformed satin, denim, fur and chiffon to look almost heavenly. The collection’s dreamy color palette of soft aquamarines, navy blues and sea foam greens was complimented by a few unexpected pops of lemon and scarlet. The designer’s talent to create waves and foam out of denim and fur is truly nothing short of inventive. This collection’s womanly silhouettes and wispy fabrics demonstrate the designer’s advanced thinking making it unforgettable.
The unforgettable look: Akhmadullina brought Hokusai’s Great Wave to life in the form of several vivacious dresses. The graphic waves crashing on the see-through fabric draped on the décolletage’s of the models was duplicated on the hemline creating quite the illusion.
Araida’s Spring/Summer 2016 superior collection proves that simplicity is powerful and making a statement can be as easy as a baby blue jumpsuit over a white dress shirt. Though at first it looked conservative, (the models wore minimalist bonnets covering their hair) the collection was incredibly feminine with several striped patterns, long hemlines and dramatic capes. Araida made a great case for layering structured dresses with long sleeved shirts and white pants. What makes this collection unforgettable is the fresh combination of silhouettes and prints that are multifarious but also sensually mysterious.
Most memorable look: A stripped off – shoulder dress layered over a blouse with transparent sleeves and a cape attached created for an illusion of a garment. The minimalism if the model’s headpieces and makeup enhanced the beauty of this ensemble as it represented the strongest aspects of this collection. Araida quashes the “no horizontal lines” rule proving that using a graphic print of various blue hues mixed with blacks and greys can be extremely flattering.
Carmen Emanuela Popa
Carmen Emanuela Popa’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection brought to life a innovative dream unlike any other. Lace, quilting, exposed skin and a few feathers for good measure added subtle accents to the more serious collection full of tight bodices and floor length skirts. A limited yet rich color palette alone was appealing yet was only intensified by the sleek choice of fabric. The shine on the satin reflected by the lights added another dimension to the garments if not creating a new texture in itself. The futuristic collection lends itself to a dystopian future where women wear satin bonnets and carry enormous clutches as though they are babies. While some looks had drastic cut outs and see-through skirts, others were the stark contrasts similar to a more conservative, almost Amish-esque ensembles.
Most memorable look: An off-white, body-hugging configuration with side cutouts and tulle skirt that embodies a bridal Milla Jovovich in the Fifth Element sans the orange hair. Like the other looks, the model’s head is covered in a cast-like padded headpiece but a lot more alluring. Even though the garment is evocative of a protective sports piece, it’s still feminine and makes one wonder who is she, where is she going and what is she doing?
Contradictory fashion is the foundation of Contrfashion a group that enjoys the more unconventional side of design. Composed of several emerging designers, Contrfashion encourages creativity, playfulness and bold artistry within the many looks presented during this runway. The Spring/Summer 2015 collection had a mix of avant-garde and conceptual designs that could be seen in the underwater inspired looks from Olga Plenkina or the reinvented flower crown by Lilya Tymosh. This collection showcases the best of Russia’s emerging designers who are not afraid of larger-than- life silhouettes and mixing varying fabrics.
Most unforgettable look: a shipwreck stimulated ensemble reminiscent of McQueen in his prime. Created by designer Alisa Gagarina, the whole look is draped fantasy brought to life as the model was propped on stilts with sails attached above her. It’s astonishing, bold and dramatic, a perfect representation of Russia’s design potential.
As any Russian will proudly remind you, the periodic table of elements was in fact created by Dimitri Mendeleev though he probably didn’t imagine it becoming a fashion statement. This scientific development was the clear inspiration behind Dasha Gauser’s nerdy-chic Fall/Winter 2016/2017 collection. The garments are playful as Gauser implements graphic patches, vibrant hues of yellow, lilac and orange offset by black and white chemical compound scribbles. There’s no tininess of the periodic print as Gauser manages to showcase it on jackets, scooped-neck dresses and even socks. The looks were finished with the models wearing long black gloves, sneakers and chic protective glasses.
Most unforgettable look: Although it’s hard to pick, the standout is a white knee length dress and lilac coat. The dresses sketch pattern paired with the printed coat are the perfect embodiment of the designer’s strengths. The complete collection is quirky and memorable the way a high school student wishes that science classes were.
Designer duo Fyodor Golan’s Fall/Winter 2013/2014 collection was a theoretical masterpiece that was equal parts art and fashion.. The brand founded by Fyodor Podgorny and Golan Frydman is all about skillful manipulation of fabrics, painted prints and unexpected proportions. There is a harmonious balance between ready-to- wear and costume within this collection as the designers go from a floral dress with nude illusion mesh to a gold metallic happy face adorned look. There’s an spirit of Schiaparelli mixed with McQueen (who is listed as a previous employer) throughout the collection which at the end of the day is uniquely their own.
Most unforgettable look: A psychedelic strapless floral dress with swooping sides and a painted mask disguising the models facade. The mysterious painting of the mask is almost electric with a radiating blue that contrasts the deeper blue tones within the dress itself. Not only is the print of the dress charming but it manages to find its way off the garment and onto the models body as well. She is covered head-to- toe in the delicate flower motif that still feels fresh years later.