5 rising stars to watch in 2020, including Red September and Bákhtin.
Babushka scarves, fur ushanka hats, Demna Gvasalia, and Gosha Rubchinskiy’s ‘post-Soviet cool’ —there are certain stereotypes that have become shorthand for modern Russian style. But, in Moscow, a city known for its colorful dome-like architecture, gastronomic scene, and historic museums, fashion is moving to the fore—and it’s not as you’d expect. Thanks to an increasingly far-reaching fashion week platform, a fresh crop of counter-cultural, uniquely voiced talent is taking hold.
Championed by Alexander Schumsky, the emerging talent-focussed president of the Russian Fashion Council and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, an assembly of local designers are hand-picked—some still in their first season—to show on schedule alongside Global Talents incubator, enlisting designers from Estonia, Sardinia, and beyond.
On the ground in Moscow, Document Journal speaks to the five designers to keep an eye on.
“For me, clothes are the way to communicate to society, a dialogue with the people. The brand’s philosophy is protest and freedom,” explains designer Artem Bákhtin who founded his eponymous brand in 2018. For his third collection, Spring Summer 2020, the designer drew from the ‘90s punk scene. There were patent leather jumpers, retro-fit power red suiting, and mascara for the boys, slim pinstripe suiting, visible zippers and a print featuring the covers of old school music magazines. “My starting point,” says Bákhtin, “is rock-n-roll. We are all different. But when we lose the right to be free, we lose the privilege to be different.”
Considered a fashion vet of sorts, Moscow-based label, Diana Arno celebrated its eighth year in business this summer, having started from the designer’s kitchen. Soft, refined and classic in mood, Arno describes her collections as, “a dialogue between the past and the present, reinterpreting the philosophy of femininity.” To wit, her Spring Summer 2020 collection engages a romantic, ’70s lilt, fluid suiting and floor-length gowns in fine French cottons and Italian silks to interpret Arno’s beach-lined hometown of Tallinn, Estonia in a palette of sand, seafoam. “The pieces are made to fly the wearers thoughts into vacation mode,” explains Arno.
One of the most buzzed-about shows of the MBFW schedule, Red September, brainchild of Polimoda graduate and ex-engineer Olga Vasyukova, is a melted-down approach to modern street and workwear inspired by her hometown of Moscow. “It is a city of great contrasts, difficult to identify and comprehend, which, in my opinion, is a sign of a living, pulsating city,” explains Vasyukova. “Initially, Red September was my personal creative space. It raises topics of concern to the younger generation, visually talks about which issues are the most acute at the moment, reflects the mood of society. A certain sum of today and the beginning of tomorrow.” Her silhouettes are brash and boxy, yet realized through precision tailoring, her palette metallic and acidic with clear plastic suiting and tie-dyed purple jumpsuits; Club kids on their way to their day jobs.
Favored by likes of Anna dello Russo and Elizabeth Hurley, the eponymous side hustle of Sergey Sysoev, (by day, Associate Professor of Costume Design of the Kosygin University) is an exercise in the exacting. With a brand philosophy of “noticeable invisibility,” Sysoev works with visual codes from old world Russian folk arts such as the red and fuschia shades in traditional dress, roses (the designers signature motif) and ears of wheat to articulate modern suiting. For his Spring Summer 2020 collection, Sysoev returned to his roots with men’s suiting, deconstructed to be genderless. “Men’s suits are my real passion, which was the first thing I ever created. It is my return to the craft,” Sysoev says.
“The collection is inspired by the fusion of East and West,” explains Roman Kim, one half of design duo Innominate. Beginning with the deconstruction of a man’s suit, the menswear offering looks strict with clear geometric shapes, but is rendered soft with lightweight fabrics, prints, and pastel palettes. For the first time since launching in 2014, the Moscow-based label introduced women’s clothing for Spring Summer 2020. “We always wanted to integrate the women’s line based on the silhouettes of men’s garments and by transforming the shapes of familiar women’s clothing, supplementing them with modern, universal details. For example, double-breasted jackets with hidden buttons made of faux fur, wide slacks worn with long, pleated skirts or hoodies made from transparent organza.”