Known for their handcraft, embroidery and art of couture contemporary Russian designers plays a significant role in determining fashion worldwide. Tatiana Pokoptseva, CEO of Museum of Contemporary Culture of Russia, St Petersburg, and curator of Introduction to Russian Fashion exhibition shared with RA+C her insights into the world of contemporary Russian fashion.

Tatyana Bulanova wearing Polina Raudson (Photo: Sergey Free

“Just a decade ago there were only a few well-known names and Russian fashion was largely associated with matryoshka-like style. Today Russian designers are recognised all over the world – Ulyana Sergeenko, Olga Vilshenko, Vika Gazinskaya have recieved a lot of attention and built their clientele both in Russia and abroad. Among their clients are the top celebrities such as Jessica Alba, Emilia Clarke and Emily Blunt.

Emilia Clarke in Ulyana Sergeenko

“Today Russian fashion is about people and cultural heritage. It’s really fascinating to see the attention with which the designers approach Russian history. It inspires them to create absolutely unique pieces, which are both contemporary and have historical references. Contemporary Russian fashion is more sentimental and culturally aware than European fashion”, says Tatiana.

Gwyneth Paltrow in Vilshenko

“I love Russian designers, among my favourites are Lilia Kissilenko and Olga Vilshenko. Kisselenko founded her fashion house in 1998 and became known for her minimalism and great fabrics she uses to create her signature looks. Vilshenko is renown for her unique aesthetic, craftsmanship and rich detailingand I bet they make the best embroidered dresses”.

Lilia Kissilenso jumpsuit

Here are Tatiana’s three main points to consider for those keen to understand contemporary Russian fashion:

Ignore the stereotypes

Russian fashion is no longer about furs and matryoshkastyle. The designers are fluent in mixing cultural heritage and contemporary look, which makes their garments authentic and cool. Russian fashion industry develops very fast and every season we discover more and more innovative approaches.

Vilshenko dress

Be ready for experiment

Contemporary Russian fashion is all about experiment: ideas, materials and concepts of how a contemporary woman should look. For example, in new collections the masculine jump-suits are mixed with oversized faux leather jackets and ballerinas, and elements of the Russian empire dresses are combined with hand made applications and very modern cut.

Pirosmani (by Jenya Malygina)

Ignore the mainstream trends

 Russian fashion doesn’t follow common trends. Its all about personality and connection to the cultural heritage we have. For example, Tatyana Parfionova takes russian ballet and russian tsar’s court dresses as the inspiration for her collections, though all her garments stay modern and elegant.

Dresses by Tatyana Parfionova