2009 March 25

Moscow's Dapper Nights

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Doutzen Kroes front row at Valentin Yudashkin Doutzen Kroes front row at Valentin Yudashkin
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(MOSCOW) It’s undeniably difficult to point out when it’s not Fashion Week in the Russian capital. Thick fashion bibles can be found in any local supermarket 365 days a year, smiling high-heeled ladies walk up and down Tverskaya Street in mink, Miu Miu and miniskirts during most snowstorms, and the nation’s top editors are now seated front row and center everywhere in Paris and Milan. No exceptions. But after the fatigue and jetlag of Europe, Volvo Fashion Week presented by Visa has once again confidently landed in perhaps the high fashion consumerist capital of the world. And in Moscow, the weeklong event held in a historic Gostiny Dvor is less about the seating charts and backstage drama and more about the theatrical celebration of local fashion. Well, that...and Doutzen Kroes.

This season, the Dutch supermodel had a lot of firsts in Russia. She stamped her visa at the Sheremetyevo Airport for the first time and traveled almost immediately 70 miles east of the city to the town of Mozhaisk, where she met and posed for pictures with local orphans. Kroes then experienced her first taste of big city traffic so she could sit front row at Valentin Yudashkin’s show, something she has never really done in any city. “You can’t help but love Moscow,” she said after taking her first glimpse of the Kremlin just hours earlier. “It’s freezing! It’s still winter but the energy here is amazing. I’m just sad that I’m missing Ursula Pelt’s show later this week, who’s also from Netherlands.” But the Victoria’s Secret star had plenty to admire at the nation’s most-lauded designer effort. Yudashkin also created a limited edition couture lavender Volvo that was showcased during the show which his 18-year old daughter, Galina, requested--she bought it immediately after.

Some other early highlights included a Top Man show that showed outside of London for the first time in a Moscow exclusive, and a strong, structured men’s effort by local favorite Max Chernitsov. Meanwhile, a classically-inspired Natasha Grigant sent down her models to the dramatic soundtrack of Requiem while wearing a series of well-made gold-accented dresses. “I’m actually a very monochromatic designer and in my 10-year history have never used gold,"  she explained. “One of my inspirations, besides Art Deco, was the current crisis. In times of past hardship, we always had these Russians who weren’t afraid to wear the loud raspberry jacket with fancy accents. I’m hoping that these new Russian folks come along again and that they’ll be itching to wear something special and unforgettable.”

Finally, imagine a show where most of the models were replaced with the Russian equivalents of Elton John, John Mayer, Justin Timberlake, and Katy Perry. That’s exactly what happened at Ilya Shiyan’s first collaboration with Yana Rudkovskaya, who happens to be the fiancé of international ice-skating legend Evgeni Plushenko--who also walked in the show. Other instant Zoolanders included music superstars Dima Bilan, legendary Philip Kirkorov, Sergei Lazarev, and perhaps the only hair stylist in the world with his own mass-produced doll, Sergei Zverev--all strutted their stuff during a runway presentation that involved an elaborate car that stormed the stage, an injured male model, topless girls, and lot of inspired sparkly outfits. “It’s not a profession for me...but who knows” said Kirkorov, who in the past broke records with his album sales. “And it was a good way to promote my accessories line. I don’t sing all the time, so it’s actually nice to take time and get inspired by beautiful things around me and do something useful with my time, like making nice rings and belts.”

Plushenko was certainly used to the spotlight after performing in arenas for most of his life. “I’m seriously training for the Olympics next year and I’ve had to skip a practice for the first time in a while for my future wife’s first entry into this industry,” said the champion. “But Yana made me a warm-suit with my name on it, so I’ll more than make up for it when I get back to St.Petersburg!” His loved one had a simple explanation when it came to assembling the Moscow all-star runway cast. “Let’s face it: female and male models are not always the smartest cookies in the room!” she laughed. “So, it’s nice to actually replace them once in a while with photogenic superstars. That’s always a lot less stressful to me.”

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