Day two in Moscow dawns, and it is lovely. I am also not jet-lagged! I kind of can't believe it as typically I am a very bad traveler and end up needing a few days to adjust. We have free time all morning, so I enjoy a buffet breakfast (skipping the table of caviar blinis and champagne because I'm not quite that adjusted to Russia yet) and head over to the Pushkin Museum. On my way back to the hotel, I saw the best fashion in Moscow, hands down. Like, I could go home now and be fine.
The first real fashion event on the docket that evening was a small presentation by two designers: J. Kim and CAP America. It was exactly what one might expect from a presentation: clothes hanging in a stark white room, champagne flowing, a couple of models lounging in the designs. Kim comes from Korea and her designs have already been spotted on street style stars in Paris. CAP America designer Olga Shurigina is also an artist, and though she knows her design shares a name with Marvel character Captain America, there is (sadly) no relation.
Everyone who works in fashion has some variant on the "fashion week stress dream" — maybe you show up naked, miss a deadline, or oversleep and skip an important show. Well, being at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia as an American who doesn't speak a word of Russian is a lot like living out one of those fashion week stress dreams. All of the familiar elements are there — the weird corporate sponsor booths in the lobby, the lettered bench seating, the street style peacocking — but the details are just blurry and foreign enough to give the whole proceeding a rather surreal tint.
Take the S.A.S. show, for example: Even the soundtrack felt somehow fake, like the type of music you would hear during a television or movie version of a runway show, rather than the typical booming bass remix of some current music industry "It" Girl we're used to in New York. At the Laroom show, I could tell that certain FROW members were somehow famous — whether "fashion" famous, like bloggers, or actually famous, like actresses — but not a single one looked familiar to me. So maybe it's not that different from Lincoln Center after all! (Ba-dum ching, I'll be here 'til Monday.)
One cool and different thing about the tents in Moscow is that a few smaller designers were allowed to set up mini presentations in booths. Armed with just a few racks of their goods, designers were given the chance to interact one-on-one with press and potential customers. One such designer was St. Petersburg-based Liza Odinokikh, whose camo fur stole and marsala military-style coats belong on the backs of street style stars worldwide.
But we couldn't spend too much time checking these out, as Alena Akhmadullina's show was due to start and it was recommended we arrive very early, as she is one of Moscow's most celebrated designers and it was guaranteed to be a packed house.
This was suggested because, for reasons I have not been able to sort out yet, seats are not firmly assigned prior to the shows in Moscow. The front row seats are held by seat fillers until someone ushers in some VIP — in my case, foreign press, but obviously also celebrities, bloggers, and Very Rich People — to take the seats. Some people show up with tickets and seating assignments, but even then they don't always get what's listed on their invitations. I'm not sure how this negotiation works but there is often much shifting, squeezing together and arguing back and forth in Russian about why X person needs Y person's seat.
Non-ticketed seating aside, I could see why Akhmadullina's show was so highly anticipated; of all the fashion I've seen so far, hers was the collection which would look most cohesive alongside her peers in New York or Europe. This means she is (apparently) in-demand here in Moscow: When a few of us tried to interview her backstage post-show, she was whisked away in a blur. As we attempted to keep up, she explained to our guide — without ever stopping, her head turned back to address us — that all interviews had been done before the show and that she was impossibly busy. But what a beautiful, talented blur she was.
One thing that impresses me is how quickly they are able to turn shows over in Moscow. The tents only have two rooms in which to show, and crews are able to get them ready for the next designer within two hours. It means there's slightly less wait time between shows — which, more or less, start on time, unlike in New York — so Viva Vox closed out the night in the same space where Laroom had just shown. It was at Viva Vox that I finally realized the reason people were randomly and sporadically clapping in small numbers was to show approval for a look coming down the runway. (Yes, it took me four shows to figure that out.)
The night ended at Moscow boutique KM20, which was both an exhibition of Russian designer Tigran Avetisyan's clothing and an after party. KM20 is like Colette or Opening Ceremony, the kind of place cool young things might come to discover new labels or pick up something that they wouldn't find in the big department stores.
I had missed dinner, though, so rather than get drunk on a cocktail I believe they were calling "Moscow Milk" (this is according to an American comrade here so if it's wrong I'm blaming him), I came back to the hotel and ordered a very #fashion hamburger dinner. I also think I way overtipped because I still am not great at currency rates or the incredibly high numbers — seeing "1200" on a receipt (even though you know it's in rubles) can give you a minor heart attack. Spasiba, my dude!
Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia has paid for my travel and accommodations to attend and cover the event.