We have chosen some young Russian heroes to show how, through design and fashion, they have come to express a new generation within a huge metropolis.
The Russian capital is redefining what it means to be an international hub. Known around the world for its monuments, unique architectural buildings, art museums, and vibrant city life, Moscow is moving to the forefront of fashion, design and underground movements. Over the years, Moscow has become an important center for design, art and fashion, also thanks to the opening of famous schools such as the HSE Art and Design School, the Moscow Institute of Business and Design, the Moscow State University of Design and Technology, the International Design School and so on.
Certainly, when it comes to cultural poles where Generation Z can express themselves in Moscow, the Moscow International Bienniale for Young Art must be mentioned. This year the Moscow International Biennale for Young Art took place for the seventh time. However, due to the Covid-19 emergency, it was held online. The 7th Bienniale, like every year, attracted many young designers and artists from all over the world. The Main Project of this year, “I don’t know whether the Earth is spinning or not...”, was co-curated by Lizaveta Matveeva (Russia) and Francesca Altamura (USA).
Still speaking of design, surely another institution is the Golden Bee Moscow International Biennale of Graphic Design which has been held since 1992. Over the years it has become a tradition for young Muscovites. Every year the best examples of graphic design from all over the world are presented and exhibited to display modern visual culture and contribute to its development. “The Poster without Borders” is the main competition nomination, and allows designers to express themselves in total freedom without limitations or censorship. This section of the Golden Bee 14 took place in the New Tretyakov Gallery.
As for the world of fashion, fashion experts and keen observers around the world have already noticed the introduction on the catwalks of elements taken from communist iconography. This aesthetic is referred to as “post-Soviet cool” and is all the rage on the international fashion scene. Examples include Gosha Rubchinskiy’s style empire that has an impressive following from Sydney to Tokyo, the brand Vetements that features nonchalantly symbols of the Slavic tradition, and Cyrillic letters popping up on Topshop and H&M sweaters. While Western consumers see this kind of aesthetic as something different and exotic, for the Russian emerging generation it echoes the old (and boring) stereotypes of the Cold War.
The best creative minds of Generation Z can express themselves at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, which takes place in Moscow twice a year. What really makes Moscow Fashion Week different from the others, though, is that it acts as an incubator for emerging young and international talents.
Here are some of the most innovative fashion designers that who were protagonists during the 2019 Moscow Fashion Week and who most impressed us. and that most impressed us.
Moscow-based brand Kruzhok is redefining the Russian underground streetwear scene through its camouflage prints, overalls, and hoodies paired with asymmetrical details. The brand wants to represent a fashion between sportswear and workwear, starting from very basic and, rightly, commercial elements, working on prints, colors and social messages. Kruzhok’s SS20 is an intense political collection, reminiscent of the apocalypse.
Red September, brainchild of former engineer and designer Olga Vasyukova, is a melted-down approach to modern street and workwear inspired by the city of Moscow. The designer graduated from the Polimoda Fashion Design department and her first showcases took place in Florence. Some of her recurring elements are: ombré denim corsets, matching minis, clear plastic dresses, tie-dyed jumpsuits and modern moto jackets. Olga designs “for all people” and makes a conscious effort not to label or categorize anyone. For example, with the FW20 collection, Red September celebrates outsiders.
Bakhtin, founded by Artem Bakhtin in 2018, is an edgy brand that revives rock’n’roll and punk culture. His collection harks back to on the ‘90s rock scene: there are patent-leather jumpers, retro fits, mascara (yes, also for boys) and nostalgic prints abound. Staying true to his core aesthetic, the designer chose non-typical models and a soundtrack featuring ’90s rock band Placebo.
Olya Volshebova is one of the fashion designers helping to carry the message of the LGBT+ community forward, launching her eponymous label Volshebova in 2018. At Futurum Moscow, a fashion presentation for emerging designers in Russia, she showed her collection characterized by exaggerated knitwear and puffer jackets in a range of pink hues, worn mainly by male models.
Arut Arustamyan launched his independent clothing brand for men and women called ARUT MSCW in 2016. The Russian designer takes his inspiration from the disco and pop culture – as evidenced by the slim-fitting silhouettes in lustrous fabrications. As Arut stated “The main message of the brand is street chic in all its manifestations – be it either a sequin-covered bodysuit paired up with training pants and sandals, or a white ruched dress. As for men’s clothes – they bear the spirit of some kind of Oscar Wilde of our time”. His dresses are characterized by dramatic details mixed with lavishing fabrics.
Morgana Simonazzi & Federica Moschitta