Away from the traditional style capitals, new hotspots are beginning to develop and champion local talent.
According to the stereotype, Russia’s ultra-wealthy are mostly interested in international brands – be it properties, newspapers or football teams – but fashion is beginning to tell a different story. This year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia (MBFWR), which took place in March in Moscow, demonstrated that homegrown designers are increasingly attempting to define their own aesthetic – and local consumers are taking notice.
Alexander Shumsky, who founded Russian Fashion Week in 2000 (Mercedes became a sponsor in 2011), says that even five years ago “it would have been quite hard to say what Russian fashion was, and, basically, no one would buy it.” Now, he says, a certain aesthetic cohesion is emerging.
This year’s shows varied a good deal in terms of size, fanfare, and quality but the dominant themes were Russia’s dark winter, ethnic patterns, and snow-covered wildlife.
Alena Akhmadullina is one of Russia’s more established fashion names, selling in both the US and France, as well as her home country. For autumn/winter 2013, she sent out heavy fur capes and coats, multicoloured knits, and dresses covered in wolf prints. Urate Gurauskaite, editor of Russian InStyle magazine, describes the result as “fantastic prints, colours, cut and a devotion to tradit...