While everybody attentive to the f-world seems to be more than familiar with the big four stealing the show during the most influential times of the year, many fashion connoisseurs lack knowledge beyond New York, London, Milan, or Paris. As a result, not only the names shaping international style are underestimated, but the seeds for cultural ignorance and exclusion are planted; harmful parasites in the time of diversity, tolerance, and globalization.
Allow me to begin your introduction into a world bursting with independent creativity beyond the scope of the domineering fashion capitals by exploring SS19 in one of the most controversial places for trends to be shaped — Moscow, Russia.
To understand the original nature of the event, it is crucial to understand one confusing nuance — there are two fashion weeks in Moscow. There is the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, included in the series of international fashion weeks sponsored by the eponymous brand and then there is Moscow Fashion Week. The second one is a morally and technically outdated phenomenon oversaturated with feathers, sequins, platform high heels, red lipstick, and other remnants of Russia’s dark economic past. Thus, we will not waste our time and move on to dissecting the Spring/Summer 2019 collection of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, offering a platform for younger designers focusing on creating art rather than just making a profit. I hunt the style, not the trends, and, therefore, I prefer to analyse the inner core of the brand rather than its reflection of this season’s must-wear elements.
Lumiér Garson by Jean Rudoff
Who and what? Jean Rudoff is an ex-lawyer student with Ruska Roma roots coming from a city called Perm. The four-year-old brand skilfully shifts its direction with every collection visually drawing complimentary curves rather than parallel lines. Every season the brand’s slightly ironic blend of haute-couture with streetwear finds a new way to stand out within the Russian context where cultural and social awarenesses are rapidly growing. The designer infuses elements of his ethnicity by experimenting and overdoing details.
Why? As Jean discourses, he transmits his thoughts and does not care too much about challenging something. It is straightforward - there are topics that he wants to tell people about so he does it through his clothes. In other words, Lumiér Garson dislikes throwing the glove and prefers it on his models’ hands walking down the runway, on the way to the minds of observers.
SS19 Specials: The Spring/Summer 2019 collection “Furthur” explores the cultural code by gathering its verves in alteration of consciousness with LSD. As a direct result — acid colours, UV prints, and many references to the pop culture dealing with psychedelics. As a demonstrative example — a hoodie with a print, which was recycled from the poster of Ken Kesey’s 1960s parties. While the collection itself makes the audience engage with research and context, Jean Rudoff went even further and produced a range of supportive material to integrate his collection in Moscow routine; he customized metrocards, hung promo posters around the city, created a “Fake U” project, turned his show into a performance with no models (talk about diversity), and produced a short movie of the same name. The mind game continues as an AR technology app allows the prints on the clothes come alive. Your first thought may be, “How crazy is this?” but, “How often do we see so much imagination in today’s fashion?” is the second and more important question.
All photos courtesy of Lumiér Garson / @lumiergarson
Who and what? Lusine Avetisyan is an Armenia-born artist, designer and ex-fashion stylist who studied in The Saint Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design from where she developed a classical foundation in intricate designs and cuts. Her CV includes “Best Project” award in Vogue Italia Talents but her exceptional talent finds its place in printmaking. Lusine turns her authentic drawings into motley prints that are impossible to miss and the way she puts them on elegant clothes emphasizes femininity.
Why? Lusine calls her brand “the child of herself and her grandmother.” Sounds uncomfortably weird, this designer’s relative helped Lusine discover her talent, which acted as the next step of her artistic becoming. She is an experimentalist, and Factive Face is her experiment. It is not just a brand — it is art.
SS19 Specials: The SS19 collection mirrors designer’s interpretation of Armenian culture. It is abundant in folklore motifs depicting mythical animals, fairytale characters, forget-me-nots — a symbol for the anniversary of the Armenian genocide — and national pomegranates representing fertility and fortune. The artist chose juicy colours of blue, red, pink, yellow, and green to chaperone her hand-drawn prints; meanwhile, the classical black and white duo added graphics and clarity. On the runway, models of different ethnicities and appearances with traditionally braided hair seemed to be dressed in colourful canvases rather than physical clothes. The designer bet on the audience’s perception by creating a simple but catchy lookbook with a DIY orange background. Two words to describe the collection offering enormous pleasure for hungry fashion fantasies — magic realism.
Photos (Runway): Strajin Igor http://strajin.ru
Photos (Lookbook): Courtesy of Factive Face / @factiveface
ROMA UVAROV DESIGN
Who and what? Roma Uvarov is a 21-year-old designer and participant of the Russian version of “Project Runway.” Having started with embroidery t-shirts, Roma became tempted with unusual and peculiar materials like X-ray film, baby dolls (whole and partial), artificial eyes, and many more things that you would expect to find at a hoarder’s (or serial killer’s...) house. Employing a mix of simple and complex cuts, the designer produces unisex haute-couture and prêt-à-porter, as well as hybrid, pieces that are now recognizable far beyond Russian Federation.
Why? “Crazy clothes with an idea,” a word combination used by the kitschy designer, who is not afraid to be commercially successful. Roma Uvarov decided to create his own brand when he realized that he has a lot to say to the developing yet still conservative Russian fashion industry. Both handmade couture pieces and more simple items like hoodies attract characters who would like to stand out and lack the fear of looking different. For Roma, it is vital for the customer to share his aesthetic values as his work reflects the interpretation of fashion in one’s own way; contradiction plays a special role in his world.
SS19 Specials: The collection shown on the autumn runway is called “Bog Glamour” and is a certain timeline of Roma Uvarov’s life as he “travelled from one bog to another,” referring to moving around different Russian towns (many places in Russia have poor infrastructure so people move to Moscow or Saint-Petersburg to chase their dreams.) After spending time in isolation while shooting a TV project, the designer learnt how to see ‘beyond obvious beauty’. Inspiration came from a merman character from a Soviet cartoon “Flying Ship.” Soviet nostalgia played the muse, but it also ironically portrayed Roma’s life in the capital where conservative traditions sharply clash with the modern reality, and where old-fashioned glamour clashes with its 2018 reinterpretation. The Roma Uvarov Design’s surreal range is a melting pot for SS19 trends — it is rich in green and brown tones, nets, water theme, eighties mood, and dresses. Its jewel in the crown (or in the shell) was the casting, styling elements, and accessories: mature models, floater-like-makeup, reed, fishing nets, snail shells, seaweed purses, and gloves with fake nails. Beware of these mermen and mermaids casting a (bog) glamour over your spring and summer outfits!
Photos: Courtesy of Roma Uvarov Design/ @romauvarovdesign
Fashion may be a societal tool of manipulation, but it is also a human way to share knowledge and cultural values. When the f-time of the year comes around, make sure you spend some time learning about the brands exhibited outside the industry’s intensely commercialized events.
This year, a social campaign- 09.To the Birth of Fashion- took place during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia in collaboration with Russia’s Ministry of Health. This campaign focused on maternity wear and was deigned to show that pregnancy does not have to affect a woman's style. It 'is a joyful but difficult period for any woman, when she wants to be stylish, modern, and elegant – and she can'.