Aurora Fashion Week Russia kicked off in St Petersburg yesterday with a new collaboration with YouTube as organisers look to make its catwalk shows available to a more global audience. The fashion week will showcase the work of 40 designers both Russian and foreign, including the Italian designer Gaetano Navarra, Sasha Kanevski from Ukraine and Marques Almeida from the UK.

A series of related events will also be held in different venues around the city, including the Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts, which is housed in a magnificent 18th-century building that overlooks the Neva River. Speaking to the St Petersburg Times, Mikhail Bazhnov, chairman of AFWR, said: “Fashion is a symbiosis of classical and modern art and [this] is the image of St Petersburg we want to promote.”

Among the Russian designers present this week are Tatyana Parfionova, arguably St Petersburg’s most famous fashion designer, and Sergey Bondarev, the creative director behind fashion label Bearded Baby, both of whom will be presenting their new collections.

Aurora’s mission is to improve the image of Russian fashion designers both at home and abroad. This year’s collaboration with YouTube means its fashion shows and interviews with designers will be available to a wider audience. Most fashion shows will also be held in the evening to give visitors plenty of time to discover the city by day.

Aurora signals a rise in regional fashion weeks, which look to inspire local designers. "Think about it this way," says fashion blogger D'Angelo. "If you're a young person living in Riga or Kiev, and you want to design clothes, these fashion weeks give you an incentive to do something. Maybe you dream about showing in Paris one day, but for now, there's a fashion week in your town, and being part of that, it seems possible."

The fashion week is supported by the Russian Ministry of Culture and the St Petersburg Culture Committee, and is promoted by the foreign consulates of several countries. Aurora will run until 21 April.

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