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The evolution of the Russian fashion and style

fashion & stylenews

6 January 2016
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Russia has a certain intrinsec power on all levels. When it comes to fashion and style, it has always captured the attention although it was not accessible to many for so long. With the political regime, fashion and style was a thing that belonged to aristocrats and high class. The others didn't knew or have access to Russian designers. Those preoccupied by this had to sew their own clothes or go to a tailor from the neighbourhood.

From 1990 things started to change and Russia become more open and accessible, although it still has a mirage of its own that cannot penetrate the European market totally.

We have to say it : Russia has it for its own ! And for the others, there is still that discovering feeling.

A little bit from the Russian fashion history :

There has been established trends in the Russian fashion history. Like the constructivism from the 20s. It was an artistic movement that saw everything under a new expression. The human body was the vessel for a new expression and this could be seen in fashion, too. Practical clothes, with simple geometric forms. Lyubov Popova designed the flapper dress which had both an artistic and practical use.

The birth of Ready-to-Wear in Russian constructivism

Varvara Stepanova and Tatlin introduced the concept of « production clothing » and eliminated everything that created « noise » like graphics, focusing on buttons and stitches. But, under the regime, this was just experimental and the designs were never produced. But this was a major step and inspiration to the futur fashion collections. This way it was intoduced the prêt-a-porter concept. Chanel, Miu Miu, Pierre Cardin took their inspiration from the Russian constructivism.

Constructivism in Russia in the 1920s:

The sarafan dress

This way we should not forget about the tradition dress, the « sarafan » who has European roots at its origin but it was adopted by Russia and kept as a national symbol until 18th century when Peter the Great obliged all the members of the court to wear European clothing.

The « sarafan » dress is known best for its embroideries and vivid colours contrasted by the white shirts. With time, it was associated with folk celebrations but it evolved also into a simpler version that could be worn by middle class.

A Brief History of the Sarafan:

Russian embroidery :

Russia is known for its embroidery and its traditions. Many influences can be seen all over the territory but two distinguished styles are dominant : Northern and Central. In the North part of the country, embroideries were much influenced by history of Scandinavia,  Vikings and Pre Christian times.  The motifs include geometric patterns with horses and riders, many in red . One of the best known embroidery is « The Sun Chariot ».

Russian Embroidery:

On the Central part, the embroideries focus more on nature and daily life elements with geometric forms of plants, trees, animals and in a natural colour palette.

Russian Embroidery:

Ballets Russes have also an amazing contribution to the world of Russia fashion. The costumes are absolutely amazing, sewn and embroidered in such attention to details that still is mesmerising. There have been exhibited to galleries such as The National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Also in Moscow there are exhibitions like the one called : Fashion as the Mirror of History : 200 years of Russian Fashion. A retrospective that shows the history of fashion from 1880s till the Soviet times and the modern Russia. Every piece of clothing has a story of its own, like the dress dated in 1907 of a millionaire who escaped the Tsarist Russia before the World War I.

Exhibit Showcasing 200 Years of Russian Fashion to Open in Moscow:

The New Russia

With the new Russia in mind, the country began to be more open. International designers started to open stores in great cities of the country and fresh new Russian designers start to be known worldwide. Ulyana Sergeenko is one of them. She uses in her work the kokoshniki style dresses with wheat and berries motifs. Olga Vilshenko also blends a lot of folkloric elements into her designs.  Lesia Paramonova has the forest as her main design motif.

"I have imagined the teenage girl from the Soviet past, with bows (and) stockings and in a traditional school uniform. It is nostalgia...passed through a prism of modern perception.", Lesia declares about her 2013-2014 fashion collection.

Magic Forest Attire - Style Bubble:

Fur is, of course, another fashion element so close to the Russian style. One of the designers, Helen Yarmak, describes furs as « Russian national pride ».

Russia couture is considered to be a new phenomenon. Russian designers preserve the Russian style which is a great source of inspiration for many. 

Nowadays, Russian fashion is chic, royal, traditional, luxurious, altogether. It is all about romance, nostalgia, power and sophistication!

Editor Andra Oprea