Friday, April 6, 2007

How to be a Brash, Young Russian Designer

1. Use your Natural Resources
Ironic distance from the past is brash. Communism is a bottomless well of fashion ideas, which only former Commies can tap into without seeming incredibly insensitive. Get to it before the Chinese!

Alena Akhmadullina. "Stremleniye k Sovershenstvu" (Aspiring to Perfection), 2007.

Igor Chapurin, Pret-a-porter, 2007.

Denis Simachev. Fall/Winter 2005-2006

Also, that furry, moving stuff -- kill it and wear it. Go on. You can do that here. Russia's primary natural advantage is expendable abundance: land, people, snow minks to wear on your head, hands and feet. Russia used humans as ammunition in WWII; no one is going to miss a few baby seals. See my loafers, former gophers...

Denis Simachev "Chukotka" Fall/Winter 2006-2007

Ilya Shiyan. Fall/Winter 2007-2008.

2. The Attitude Tee
English banalities are brash. But keep it simple, stupid.

Masha Tsigal "Milky Way" Fall/Winter 2007-2008.

Max Chernitsov. Spring/Summer 2006 "Hip Hop Da Rulz."

Cyrillic is better. Because you're effing proud to be Russian, yo.


Denis Simachev "Bang! Bang!" Fall/Winter 2007-2008

3. Homoeroticism
Being gay in Russia is still edgy as hell. Stuff that'll elicit a beatdown on the street gives your collection the air of danger.


Max Chernitsov. "Rybak! (The Fisherman!)" Fall/Winter 2007-2008.

Fresh Art. Spring/Summer 2007.

3. What about You?
As in most spheres of Russian society, it doesn't hurt to be a traditionally attractive woman.

Masha Tsigal. Night Life Awards 2006.

Alena Akhmadullina. In Style Russia, Sept. 2006

Even if you're a man.
Fresh Art-isan. Russian Fashion Week Fall 2005.

Make friends with famous people, so they'll go to your shows and/or model your stuff.

Rapper Detsl in Masha Tsigal.

Pop star Dima Bilan for Shiyan.
(Leather codpiece? Bonus points for homoeroticism.)

Hairstylist Sergei Zverev in Ilya Shiyan.
(Double Bonus Points: Famous homo in an attitude tee.)

4. Remember your Audience
Gazes cast serenely, confidently to the future, Misha and Masha are the New Russian prototype consumers. Sixty years ago, they'd have been on a poster. They're cultured, they're adventurous, they eat Thai food. But you just see what sort of hell breaks loose when you try taking his Roberto Cavalli logo tee away.

RFW pre-party at Dyagilev.

Undoing years of slavish devotion to Western brands isn't going to happen overnight. Like a stubborn five-year-old who refuses to eat anything but blue cheese, the fashionable Russian public must have its DSquared jeans and D&G skullcaps slowly coaxed away, and replaced with brash homegrown items.

Fresh Art.
Don't hold back! Moscow does not believe in nuance, and Moscow does not believe in tears.


Sunday, April 1, 2007

The One About Irony

Playboy Olmeca Club, a promotional party series between Playboy Russia and Olmeca tequila, opened at Bon on March 29. It's not exceptional, not blog-worthy, but Bon is. Last spring, the management team behind unironic, unsubtle club Billionaire -- there was such a thing -- convinced French designer Philippe Starck to design its new, next-door restaurant. Starck, known for tasteful minimalism, turned the place into a freak show with Kalashnikov rifle lamps, taxidermy wearing bling, screaming skulls, mismatched cutlery, indecent frescoes, gold paint splattered on the walls. Also, the food sucks and costs a fortune. But, Moscow punk'd? Moscow called out? Nah.

element wrote:

"Moscow’s is done, admittedly, in the aesthetic of 'rich man with no taste.' Essentially, Bon is New Russian camp. But, if Starck meant to indict Moscow, the joke is on him because the line separating the people enjoying Bon ironically and those enjoying it non-ironically is blurred, or maybe nonexistent."

A. A. Gill disagreed. The irony is so deeply ingrained, it's recognized but not even viewed as a novelty anymore:
"Restaurants in Moscow are hysterically, emphatically, purposefully expensive and gaudy. They’re more gaudy, camp and flash than the Bolshoi Christmas Special. I went to [Bon], designed by Philippe Starck, which had gold Kalashnikov lampstands. If you want the Christmas-cracker wisdom of what the difference is between America and Russia, it’s that America is wholly without irony and Russia is wholly without anything that isn’t an irony. "
Here are people at the series opening: anonymous revelers; Masha Tsigal and her homegirl; socialite Ksenia Sobchak; Bosco di Ciliegi buyer Konstantin Andrikopoulos third; and a man with his fly unizipped. Oh dear, I just relaized that's designer Andrei Sharov. Enjoying Bon ironically or non-ironically? We'll never know.

Bon, 4/4 Yakimanskaya Nab., Metro: Polyanka, Tel. 737-8008