This season’s couture week kicked off with a decidedly Slavic flavour: Sunday’s first big show was Ulyana Sergeenko’s, followed of course by Vetements’s ta-dah unveiling. Well, no one can deny that fashion is having a post-soviet moment, and it might well be that the aesthetics of Demna Gvasalia, Lotta Volkova and Gosha Rubchinskiy have rubbed off… even on Sergeenko. After all, they are now more worthy of the title of fashion’s Russian Mafia than Sergeenko and her friends, Vika Gazinskaya and Elena Perminova.
That all might explain the fact that the designer steered away from her usual brand of folk-infused fairytale inspirations: this time, instead, she chose to focus on the sixties in Communist Russia. And so, out with the bright colours and the ultra feminine shapes, in with the grey flannels and the studious attitude. The new intention was made clear from the beginning, when the first model walked down the catwalk wearing a black wool shift dress, loafers and a crocodile briefcase. One may wonder which one of Sergeenko’s clients (many of them sitting at the front row in some of her waist-hugging, bejewelled, colourful numbers from previous collections) might be tempted by a simple shift dress and briefcase.
There were also masculine trousers and suits, short skirts combined with leotards and sweaters - made of taupe shaved mink, I’ll grant you that - and fluid trench coats. The black slit miniskirts worn with visible garter belts underneath were particularly unfortunate, but compensated for by the colourful deer and wood-motif mink coats, cut casually, almost like dressing gowns. By the end, things got a bit more typically Sergeenko: out came the big furs, the brocade dresses, the silver embroideries and, finally, the long princess dresses worn with crown-like diadems. It was all more tame than usual though, and while an experiment in subtlety could enrich USergeenko’s collections, she might want to try a more balanced approach next time.