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Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia: How It Was This Time

By Oktober 31, 2020 No Comments
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Julia Kryshevich

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia: How It Was This Time

Right before we start, let me remind you of the basics. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia or MBFW, for short, is a major fashion event in Russia, CIS, and EMEA (at least, under the version of the organizers), which happens biyearly, in spring and in autumn. 

If you managed to join the April 2020 season of the Fashion Week, you could see what a success it was: although entirely running online, the three-day event attracted about 830,000 spectators. Therefore, moving the program online proved to be a natural solution for MBFW promoters in October. However, almost half of the fashion shows this time took place physically at 8 Moscow venues. No, excluding the main one, Moscow Manezh, situated a stone’s throw from Red Square. Still there were some interesting locations like Moscow Museum of Fashion and the spacious ‘Nadezhda’ loft in the historically significant city trade district.

To attend the shows you as a fashion lover or a buyer or a journalist (whatever) needed an invitation, signing a verbal promise to comply with the preventive measures against COVID-19. If you more felt like staying at home and having settled yourself comfortable enough, watching an online stream, it was a massive hit, too. High-quality videos of the shows, including close-up shots and backstage footage were available to the guests through various platforms such as the official website of MBFW and the Russian popular social network VK. Another attractive option was to view some additional news and entertaining content provided by the fashion influencers, stylists, and other folks from the local world of vogue via TikTok.

So back to MBFW program. 74 designers from six countries showcased their collections in the autumn edition of the event, including the US, the UK, Argentina, Peru, and Indonesia. As for the Russian part, it wasn’t just Moscow-driven. Saint-Petersburg, Krasnodar, Sochi, and Yakutsk have proudly presented their natives (and hosted the fashion shows themselves). This season of MBFW was mostly about clothes — the only exception that comes to mind was the Brevno eyewear brand, which showed the step-by-step process of the goods manufacturing in a video presentation. Such major figures of the Russian fashion industry as Igor Chapurin (CHAPURIN) and Elena Souprun (ELENA SOUPROUN) were on the list together with some aspiring undergraduates of the HSE Art and Design School and the B&D Institute, both Moscow-based. In order to support young professionals under the economic recession MBFW organizers enabled 13 labels to take part in the event without paying any entrance fee. So there was no shortage in young up-and-comers this time.

Though relatively young, Russian fashion industry is worth maintaining one’s focus on it. While some couturiers prefer mimicking European fashion trends (successfully, I must say), others decide on demonstrating the authenticity of the Russian DNA and focus on symbolism and national motifs. I wouldn’t like to talk in general terms (it’s hardly possible even less), however, some trends can be spotted. Here are a few insights of what Russian fashion industry breathes today. 

PART 1 

N E W   F E M I N I N I T Y

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia has never divided its seasons into male and female collections. Not that gender-fluid clothing was widely spread in Russia (quite the opposite, it’s just on the up — more on that later), but femme fashion is still considered the prevailing one. So it’s the male outfits that usually accompany women’s fashion shows, and not vice versa. In that light it’s not a big wonder that the issue of femininity remains relevant. Who is she, the ideal woman? Sounds Jungian and utopian, but always excites people’s minds. This is how MBFW’2020 participants see the answer to this question. 

The name of Elena Souprun’s SS 2021 collection Bricolage’ speaks for itself. Just like the process of bricolage implies creating objects using different kinds of materials found, the new collection by ELENA SOUPRUN displays perfect integration of local motifs into a modern image. Chinese silk and moiré and Uzbek national adras fabrics formed the basis of the label’s outfits. Loose shirts, broad sashes, laidback palazzo-pants, and kimonos call for a careful selection of handmade accessories. Smells like East? Yes, but it’s also about the spirit of the Zeitgeist, independence, and infinite elegance

‘Bricolage’ SS 2021 Collection by Elena Souprun. Courtesy of the brand

‘Bricolage’ SS 2021 Collection by Elena Souprun. Courtesy of the brand

‘Bricolage’ SS 2021 Collection by Elena Souprun. Courtesy of the brand

K Titova’s latest fashion show might serve as a perfect example of conceptual completeness. Creative and self-aware women will enjoy stylish and practical garments by K Titova ingeniously performed in two colors only, blue and white. Plaids, patches, and flower silhouettes complete the image without overloading it. A bit off the point, a senior model was spotted walking the runway during the label’s fashion show. And that’s admirable!

‘Gardens of Secrets’ by K Titova. Courtesy of the brand

‘Gardens of Secrets’ by K Titova. Courtesy of the brand

‘Gardens of Secrets’ by K Titova. Courtesy of the brand

Maison Esve decided to go artistic. Gloss, fringe, embroidered cardigans, and flirtatious skirts — the atmosphere of the 1920s has been perfectly retrieved. In the SS 2021 collection Maison Esve suggests its admirers to take on the role of the world-famous dancer Josephine Baker. But overall, it’s all about being spontaneous, open-minded, and enjoying life as it is.

Maison Esve SS 2021 collection. Courtesy of the brand

Maison Esve SS 2021 collection. Courtesy of the brand

Maison Esve SS 2021 collection. Courtesy of the brand

In the mood for something romantic? Then LUBOVI Naissanse’ collection will tune you in right. Light shadows, transparent fabrics, pleated skirts, and fitted shapes create such a tender image of the ambassador of love and affection. What’s more down-to-earth but yet enjoyable, most LUBOVI garments are created from natural fabrics such as wool, cotton, and silk. By the way, the label’s title as well as the name of its founder Lubov translates from Russian to ‘love’. 

KISSELENKO 

Having taken a step in this direction together with ELENA SOUPRUN, we keep moving forward to the East. ‘Collection №47’ by KISSELENKO is nothing but an homage to oriental delicacy. 50 shades of black used in the outfits (I’m talking about anthracite, quartz, coal, and other rock hues) are counterbalanced with red lips and flawlessly white faces of the mannequins. The makeup of the models together with the high rolls on their heads leave no doubt: the story is about a geisha, but a contemporary one. She lives at the rhythm of the city and makes time for herself. Magnificent and laconic,Collection №47’ comes in line with the philosophy of the brand, which may be described as intellectual freedom of expression. Founded by the designer Lilia Kisselenko in St. Petersburg 20 years ago, KISSELENKO was named the best Russian fashion brand by Vogue in 2000.

‘Collection №47’ by KISSELENKO. Courtesy of the brand

‘Collection №47’ by KISSELENKO. Courtesy of the brand

‘Collection №47’ by KISSELENKO. Courtesy of the brand

G E N D E R   F L U I D I T Y

Unisex ready-to-wear garments have no longer been a wonder as a kind of way station between female and male fashion. But what about rewriting the history of vogue, enrobing men in outfits traditionally ascribed to women and the other way round? It’s the young designers who usually enjoy experimenting with gender in their collections. The results might be astonishing.

‘HARD 008’ by HSE Art and Design School

Fashion Department students of the HSE Art and Design School (Moscow) showed up at MBFW with their ‘HARD 008: THE EDGE OF SOMETHING NEW’ collection. Just as the title suggests, the new series is aimed at reminiscing about the past and coming up with new ideas for the future. Trench coats, T-shirts, and tops are featured both on male and female models being photographed in couples. Asymmetry, long trains, and discreet palette of colours define the spirit of the HARD 008’ outfits. 

The Case Project by Marina Aleksashina_HSE Art _ Design School

The Case Project by Marina Aleksashina_HSE Art _ Design School

The Case Project by Marina Aleksashina_HSE Art _ Design School

SERGEI SYSOEV 

Meanwhile we keep on redefining fashion processes together with the Saint-Petersburg-based couturier Sergei Sysoev. The SS 2021 Ready-to-Wear collection by SERGEI SYSOEV isn’t just about dressing men and women in similar costumes that are marked by intimacy and sophistication. It’s also about the changing role of colour that loses its gender specificity. Intense magenta, noble navy blue, tender aqua marine — these shades are beyond the binary thinking and always ad rem. All you have to do is to get creative and match the colours properly. Bear in mind, such elements as tai dai and artistically designed rose-shaped prints will prevent the outfit from looking repetitive.

KRUZHOK

‘MOM’ collection by KRUZHOK is one of the bravest examples of gender fluidity demonstrated at the current MBFW season. It’s the superhuman with the distinctive feminine traits that serves as a prototype for the new collection. The colour palette is all lightness: peach, pistachio, and creamy hues. Large pockets, accented shoulders, A-line, and pencil skirts. Back to the 60s with its baby-doll image? Yes, in a way, and men can wear it!

‘MOM’ Collection by KRUZHOK. Courtesy of the brand

‘MOM’ Collection by KRUZHOK. Courtesy of the brand

‘MOM’ Collection by KRUZHOK. Courtesy of the brand

GILVICHUTE 

Having prior discussed new femininity, it would be fair to talk of men. Designer Yana Gilvichute devotes her new series to the wild 90s (at least, in Russia they were like that, with a highly unstable Perestroika period). GILVICHUTE SS 2021 plays upon the well-known taste of confusion and nascent freedom. Unisex leather coats are still the historically established classic, while male bodysuits, jabots, and puffy sleeves promise to be another sensation, experimental and romantic at once. It would be hard to avoid the choice of color: excellently light blue, it reminds of the times when the dreams and hopes were as endless as the sky. 

GILVICHUTE SS 2021 Ready-To-Wear. Courtesy of the brand

GILVICHUTE SS 2021 Ready-To-Wear. Courtesy of the brand

GILVICHUTE SS 2021 Ready-To-Wear. Courtesy of the brand

To be continued in Part 2. 

*All photographs provided by the press-office of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia