Dec 6, 2012

from Russia with… style - guest post by Eve

When you think of Russian style, you may automatically conjure up images of huge furry hats, full length coats and drapings of gold and fur accessories. All these would be true of stereotypical Russian attire; however, as the country grows into an economic powerhouse, its strong, traditional folkloric clothing style is making its way onto the catwalks of the world.

Traditional Russia meets the modern catwalk
This influx of Russian-inspired fashion is being driven by a small group of influential Muscovites, who have sparked international interest in their local design and aesthetic. This group, nick-named the Russian Fashion Federation, have brought traditional Russian fabrics, such as thick fur, velvet and striking embellishment into the modern day fashion scene. Twenty-first Century adaptations of the fur cossack hat, the animal scarves, military jackets and snow capes have woven their way into many of the collections of the world's top designer labels.

Inspired by old wealth and opulence
Russian fashion has long been associated with the obscenely rich and elite. The traditional stereotypical wealthy Russian woman was draped in and sea of diamonds, fur and velvet, which scream excess, money and over-indulgent luxury. The Russian elite have a penchant for logos and expense; the bigger the label, the better, and the bigger the price tag, the better still. Russian style has, until now, been associated more with wealth than with taste.

In the modern day, however, this excess and obscenity has been somewhat subdued. Russians have become more educated about fashion and, in the age of austerity, even the rich in Russia prefer to display their wealth a little more subtly. Rich Russian women such as Dasha Zhukova, partner of billionaire Roman Abramovich, and Ulyana Sergeenko, wife of an insurance tycoon, are flying the flag for Russian fashion and are leading the country onto the world's fashion stage.
Trend-setting muses
Dasha Zhukova is a front-runner in the Russian style scene, and is leading the way in portraying Russian women as powerful forces. She is a magazine editor, fashion designer and contemporary art patron. She co-founded the fashion label, Kova & T, which has since grown to appear at many of the world's top fashion shows. The wives and partners of tycoons and oligarchs are no longer just that; they are carving successful empires for themselves and portraying the Russian woman as a force to be reckoned with through alluring and exquisite fashion.

Ulyana Sergeenko has become a muse. Thought by many to be the leader of the Russian fashion elite, her signature style of cat's eye makeup and glasses, red lipstick, classic folkloric full length skirts and babushka head scarves have inspired many of this winter's collections, including that of British label, Temperley London.

At the other end of the scale, Elena Perminova, the partner of billionaire former KGB spy, Alexander Lebedev, is flying the flag for the modern Russian. Her flirty, fun style adds a super-modern twist to traditional Russian attire; while her signature style keeps the typical Russian high necks and elaborate floaty layering, she dons bright and elaborate prints, midriff-baring tank tops and block colour sunglasses.

High standards
The immaculate Russian fashionistas are setting a high standard for the elite all over the world; recently referred to the glamorous Russian Fashion Pack, as frequent outfit changers; “no one on the show circuit, with the exception of Anna Dello Russo, changes outfits more often or with more look-at-me enthusiasm than this group of designers, bloggers and scenemakers," it said.

Powerful emerging nation
As Russia emerges as a global powerhouse, the strength of the country’s fashion industry is influenced heavily by its wide range of growing industries. A study by PriceWaterouseCooper found that consumer habits were changing and health was improving; quality of life in Russia is improving, as people are increasingly inspired by Western styles. This is reflected in a growing desire for comfort, extra services and premium health care. Russian women’s love of fashion is inspired by their desire for the best personal care; the Russian high street cosmetics and online pharmacy market is one of the fastest growing in the world. In 2005, the market was estimated at €5.6 billion, having experienced a 13 percent annual growth rate. Since then, the sector has continued to grow, with the most popular pharmacy and beauty items being luxury cosmetics, men’s and children’s products and anti-age makeup. As the country’s clothing and cosmetics industries continue to grow, we are sure to see some huge designers emerging from Russia. Although the country’s fashion mainly consists of foreign brands, the number of Russian producers is growing. Russia looks on track to become the next fashion powerhouse. 

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