Right now Russian fashion industry is witnessing the rise of a new generation of independent young fashion designers, photographers and filmmakers. Having grown up or started working in the Nineties, they absorbed a variety of influences in a rapidly changing society. Many of them are self-taught and used to working without institutional support; they actively explore new technologies to create sophisticated and authentic fashion narratives.
One of the freshest and most exciting of these new media is fashion video. Russia’s best practitioners in this up-and-coming art form got a chance for worldwide recognition when Dressing the Screen, an international project run by director Kathryn Ferguson of online platform SHOWstudio, came to Moscow with a workshop last December supported by the British Council.
We have picked six of the best designers and filmmakers from Dressing the Screen, whose works stood out — by turns weird, surprising and obscure, but always beautiful and inspiring.
Panika Derevya is a contemporary minimalist with a love for natural textures such as silk and wool. Her namesake independent label is a one-woman show: she designs and produces her limited-edition pieces herself. Her Intangible collection was inspired by the harmony of contrasts: a powerful spirit inside a fragile look, which “seeks to show profoundness in simplicity and reveal the intangible in the everyday routine”, as the designer puts it herself. The video by Kostya Duffus Korobkin sends us into a utopian future solely inhabited by beautiful human beings — Derevya’s friends in real life.
Artur Lomakin of Forget Me Not and enigmatic brand Chaos Reigns are both intriguing players in Moscow’s underground fashion scene. Lomakin started from heavy-knitted wool sweaters and lambskin collars, Chaos Reigns — inspired by the dead fox in Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist — from dresses made of tights. They share a passion for weird beauty and obscure, strangely universal narratives inspired by harsh northern nature and the mean streets of the Moscow suburbs. Together with Leila Masharipova they created a dark and enigmatic urban story, featuring a mysterious pink skirt.
Moscow-based Sasha Wider became famous in a flash. Transparent white bombers and flower dresses from her graduate collection were an instant favourite among Moscow’s most influential fashion editors. Her new collection is totally the opposite — head-to-toe black — but still has Wider’s trademark charm: it’s minimal, sleek and elegant; both sexy and intelligent. Together with Danya Dubovskaya, Wider has made a black-and-white film featuring a mysterious man in a trench coat, monumental curves of constructivist buildings, the eternal beauty of a black dress.
Young stylist and fashion designer Asiya Bareeva is a black sheep among new Moscow wave of fashion minimalists. She prefers an abundance of prints, complex layering and collage-like use of different fabrics. She loves detail, and either makes her own accessories, floral headbands from Japanese clay, or decorates the outfit with jewellery by her friends Mineral Weather (featured in the film). The hypnotic video by Gleb Sereda references religious rituals and samurai ceremonies and was filmed in a sealed warehouse — the production team had to sneak in through the air vents.
St Petersburg-born Yulia Vorobieva, the woman behind Turbo Yulia, is inspired by digital reality and does everything she can to turn life into a computer game or an endless party. She uses latex, vinyl and anything neon and shiny; her signature item is a geometric helmet suitable either for travelling to the future or maybe going to a crazy acid party. Vorobieva close to Moscow’s performance artist community and often provides them with eccentric costumes. For Dressing the Screen she teamed up with Alexey Platonov to create a blend of video game and technicolour TV ad, a story of boys and girls trapped in digital world.
Tigran Avetisyan graduated from London’s Central Saint Martins in 2012, with his final collection attracting attention of international press and buyers. He promptly moved back to Moscow and launched his eponymous label. Avetisyan works with strong textures and voluminous shapes to reinvent the conservative menswear silhouette; he is known for his love of slogans, bold statements and a punk attitude. For his new collection What will remain? he himself edited a film to make contemporary fashion icons say what he wanted to hear.