Meet the up & comers behind Russia's fashion revolution
In the fickle world of taste-making, a wave of Russian-born talent has proved to be the unassuming leaders in recent times. From Demna Gvasalia's subversive collections at Vetements followed by his appointment at French luxury house Balenciaga, his stylist muse Lotta Volkova and the Muscovite menswear wunderkind Gosha Rubchinskiy, much has been made of the new, lo-fi 'Post-Soviet' mood.
THE ROGUE EDITOR: Alexandra Gordienko, Marfa Journal
City of origin: Yekaterinburg
Currently based: Paris
An influential stylist, photographer and journalist by her early twenties, Alexandra Gordienko has been a mainstay on the world's most discerning 'Ones to Watch' lists since her days matriculating at Central Saint Martins. Her graduate project-turned-revered art publication, Marfa Journal, has been described as, "pure burning creative energy packed in paper and a screaming manifesto of creative insanity," by indie bible Dazed.
Inspired by Marfa, the infamous art mecca in a Texan desert, it seems fitting that the namesake of Gordienko's publication should be at once left-of-centre and creatively magnetic.
The pages of Marfa Journal are filled with raw, at times provocative imagery curated 'by artists for artists' featuring disparate subjects such as Lindsay Lohan, Olivier Zahm, Odd Future, Karley Sciortino and Lana Del Rey (who was on the cover of issue #4).
"Marfa is a mix of loads of different things," Gordienko effervesces down the phone in her sing-song way. "It's about my friends, it's about arty things. It happens to be that my world is surrounded by super-talented people in design and fashion."
Soon, Marfa is about to be even more. "We did a book with [French luxury house] Courrèges. We are working on a 'Marfa book' on the Swiss festival, Elevation 1049. We are going to be applying the aesthetic that was developed for Marfa and making books about people, events and things." First, Marfa; next, the world.
THE DESIGNER: Yulia Kondranina
City of origin: Moscow
Currently based: London
If you've ever wondered how to set the fashion industry abuzz, take note of Yulia Kondranina: First, while you're still studying (helps if it's at an industry institution such as Central Saint Martins) turn down offers to work at Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy. Then, clap along with a crowd of tens of thousands as one of the pieces from your graduate collection winds up on stage at Glastonbury on Rita Ora and another out and about on Lady Gaga. Then, have your collection picked up by both Dover Street Market and Opening Ceremony in New York so that Kim Kardashian can buy one of your pieces - gasp! - straight off the rack. Before you can say "Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky" - buzz achieved.
Often no more than 25 pieces, Kondranina's carefully edited collections have picked up a few more fans along the way, including British department store Selfridges.
Her styles are rounded, her shapes sculptural and proportions exaggerated to push the boundaries of femininity - reminiscent of a young Cristóbal Balenciaga. Finished with couture dressmaking techniques, Kondranina has become known for her innovative hand. "I love hand-sewing and adding a human touch to my pieces," she explains, evidenced through the beaded seams of her jackets, the controlled fringing technique she invented for her graduation that has become a signature or her house-engineered knits and hand-felted needlework that feel as good as they look.
THE STYLIST: Valeria Semushina
City of origin: Tomsk
Currently based: Milan
Valeria Semushina's fascination with fashion formulas goes way back - all the way. "I was crazy for Barbie doll clothes," the Milan-based Russian explains. "Barbies were my first models."
Fast forward two decades via a stint at Italy's prestigious Istituto Marangoni, Semushina's fantasy play now takes the form of campaigns for Vetements and Matthew Williams's ALYX, as well as editorial for Vogue, Vanity Fair and Interview.
"I remember that I was a little skater/rapper kid first," Semushina says of her first fashion memories in one of Russia's oldest towns. "I had big DC shoes and oversized pants."
These days, her inspiration is just as everyday; "Cultures, people that I see every day, new designers and Japanese fashion," she lists, citing Gosha Rubchinskiy as one of her favourite designers. "He showed the world a completely different, gritty, underground side of Russian style that has become beautiful and famous all around the world,' adding, "Being Russian means that I think in a different way about fashion. [Russian style] is so particular with a strong identity. I can say that I'm really proud."
THE BUYER: Olga Karput
City of origin: Moscow
Currently based: Moscow
Seven years ago, dreaming of a fashion revolution in Russia, Olga Karput opened her boutique Kuznetsky Most 20. "I believe that a concept store like ours reflects the current fashion process and also tries to predict the future when it comes to buying," the founder explains.
A favourite of Buro 24/7 founder, Miroslava Duma, the KM20 space doubles as a vegetarian cafe and draws a community of "all the coolest kids in town - business people, It-girls, fashionistas, editors."
Having opened the boutique with the exclusive Margiela Artisanal collection, Karput champions local designers such as Gosha Rubchinskiy (who she calls a close friend) as well as international heavyweights such as Raf Simons, and lists thigh-high boots as the Russian woman's essential item among her clientele. "Might be because we have really long legs," she laughs.
Karput describes the current fervour with the 'Post-Soviet aesthetic' as a nostalgic response of the people at the forefront of the movement and their Russian or USSR roots. "Most of this generation were a part of the Soviet Union, a poor country where people never had diversity of clothes," she explains. "At the moment, we all get nostalgic and inspired by our childhood times - and it seems like the rest of the world is responding to that, too."
Buro 24/7 Selection
Buro 24/7 Selection