Moscow Fashion, Fit To Size

  •   These days Russia tends to make international headlines due to the Kremlin’s awkward attempts to “make Russia great again” – by making unpredictable, mostly militaristic, destabilizing moves in other lands. But not all in Moscow is camouflaged. The latest Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia was held there last week, with more than 50 designers from Russia and a few neighboring post-Soviet countries presenting their Fall/Winter 2016-2017 collections.

      Even with a declining economy and bogged down by international sanctions imposed for annexing Crimea and allegedly fueling the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the Russian fashion scene is as vibrant as ever and the creativity flourishes. Below is a report from FORBES contributors Stephan Rabimov and Alexey Timbul, who were on the scene at Moscow Fashion Week.

    Sorry, I Am Not F/W 2016 Runway Collection Show. Photo: DEPESHA.

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      Shark Burka; Sorry, I Am Not F/W 2016 Runway Collection Show. Photo: DEPESHA.

      Sepia-toned nostalgic furs, gold hued gala gowns and a shark burka… Held at an expo center directly across from the Kremlin, the latest edition of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia offered less global glitz than local fashionistas have come to expect in previous years. Sanctions, proxy wars, corruption scandals—fashion as a cultural barometer shows an apparel industry in flux as the socio-economic focus shifts towards all things domestic. One thing Russian people have learned from over a millennium of their tumultuous history is resilience. When things are good, you flaunt it. When life gets tough, grit and bear.

      What crisis? “We get textiles from Spain and France, so the instability of the ruble’s exchange rate is a nuisance. Otherwise, if anything, there is probably more interest from foreign buyers now,” says designer Oleg Ovsiev, who took over a popular Russian brand, Viva Vox, after studying design in the Netherlands. His collection was an assured study of an elusive, emerging next Russia: colorful but not garish, with subtle eastern accents on western trends, without boasting either.

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