City In:Look:Moscow

Today's post is a first in a series -- peeking inside the lifestyles, the hidden gems, the "who's who", of global cities of interest.

As the world celebrates the Olympics in Sochi, there is a heightened interest in Russia's culture; its social and political landscapes, lifestyles, trends, etc. In a country that struggles to strike a balance between modern and traditional, the capital of Moscow, has risen in the ranks as a strong and legitimate cultural player. A social evolution is taking place in this city of 11.5 million people (some estimate as high as 17 million), and as of 2011, home to the highest number of billionaires of any city in the world. In a city, where less than 30 years ago, there was no disparity between the upper and lower classes (because everyone was forced to stand in line for everyday staples, like food and water), the line between the "haves" and "have nots" is quite evident.

During the oppressive Soviet years, Russians were not exposed to cultural facets of the West -- high fashion, art, literature, food. Quite conversely, in post-Soviet times, the "New Russian women," independently wealthy or wives of successful businessmen, jet-set from New York to Paris, Dubai to Milan, toting their Birkin bags alongside their luxury fur coats. These same women have drawn the attention of brands such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and French luxury retailer, Galleries Lafayette (currently focusing on Moscow as its next market), who all have several locations in Moscow.


Russian fashion and Moscow streets' burgeoning style stars, are having a moment.

A clique of young, gorgeous Russian women, namely Miroslava Duma, Vika Gazinskaya, Elena Perminov and Ulyana Sergeenko, are (at least) partially responsible for the upsurge of interest in à la russe (in the Russian) style. This new generation of couture consumers has experienced overnight success. Their images shared on every fashion blog. Their signature high fashion style and sophisticated femininity has attracted global attention -- seated next to Anna Wintour at fashion shows, walking the streets of New York and everywhere in between.

Duma, daughter of a senator and wife to a Russian entrepreneur, is a former fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar Russia and founder of Buro 24/7, a global style-heavy website. In addition, she is employed by TSUM (Russia's equivalent to Neiman Marcus), as their Digital Media Director -- paid to be photographed. She dominates street style blogs and is quite fond of Hermes scarfs, tied on the head, bold accessories, and ornate headdresses.

Perminov, a leggy model, married to Russian billionaire, Alexander Lebedev, is often photographed in ensembles direct from the haute couture catwalks. Unlike her fashion counterparts, she appreciates the pairing of high/low -- complimenting H&M skinny denim with Rodarte or Givenchy. Harper's Bazaar paints an honest portrayal of Perminov in a "Cinderella Story." An intriguing read, the article profiles her rise from drug dealing in Russian clubs, to time in jail, to her current status as an ambassador for Chanel.

Portrait of Vika Gazinskaya

Vika Gazinskaya, an independently successful designer, is also a heavily photographed (often in her own designs) street style icon. And, like her "Russian Fashion Pack" BFF's, her image is prolific in the pages of Vogue, The Sartorialist and shared between adoring blogger fans. Among her many accolades -- in 2012 Gazinskaya, was named one of six finalists for the prestigious ANDAM (National Association for the Development of Fashion Arts) Fashion Award. Her designs (profiled below), heavy in geometric patterns, can be purchased on the fashion heavyweight websites, Moda Operandi, Colette, Net-a-Porter and Avenue32. 

Like Gazinskaya, "fashion elite," is not Ulyana Sergeenko's sole persona. Wife of millionaire Daniil Khachaturov, the ambitious and stunning Sergeenko is a designer (profiled below) with cult status. Her personal Soviet-inspired style, is both conservative in nature and pattern, and has landed her on every street style blog. Her sometimes "unexpected" modern designs are reminiscent of traditional Russian wares -- with conventional hues (reds, golds, tints of yellow and orange) and Soviet-era silhouettes


An influx of new, avante garde, "classically-Russian with a modern perspective," designers, are both serving the style interests of Moscow's elite and representing their country on the catwalks of fashion's finest shows -- New York, Paris, Milan, and since 2000, Russia, itself. Such designs have been seen on premier red carpets, in music videos and at society events, on a global scale.

Andrey Artemov, Walk of Shame

According to Artemov, Walk of Shame is about "bruises on knees, yesterday's hair and yesterday's make-up. It's about fun and its consequences told in the language of irresistibly seductive design." An educated costume designer, Artemov's fan base extends from Moscow's skating community to Russia's social "it" girls.

Vika Gazinskaya

Gazinskaya's feminine, structured designs, crafted on French and Japanese fabrics, are quite contrary to traditional Russian fashions. In 2009, while wearing her own designs to Paris' Fashion Week, bloggers and journalist took notice. Since then, Gazinskaya has made a career in fashion, both with her designs and in her personal style.

Ulyana Sergeenko

A style icon in her own right, Sergeenko's clients include Lady Gaga and Sarah Jessica Parker, among many other celebrities. A modern interpretation of Russia's history (and fashion timeline) is well depicted in her designs. Retro silhouettes. Furs. Voluminous skirts. At her shows, Sergeenko's shares her admiration for this era, with models wearing head scarfs.

To peel back the layers of the city of Moscow, is to reveal a new generation -- the "New Russians" -- who are creatively and with great spirit, reinventing the images that were historically lackluster and one-dimensional.

Top Image//Ulyana Sergeenko design
Sources//Vogue//Russia, Beyond the Headlines//Vanderlust//Business of Fashion//Harper's Bazaar

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