Day three of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia, and it is finally time to shop. Conveniently, our hotel in Moscow, Hotel Metropol, is just steps away from Russia's hottest luxury department store, Tsum. The most recent addition is a floor curated by street style star and stylist Natasha Goldenberg, who made a brief appearance looking impossibly cool.
A word to the wise: Anyone planning a trip to Russia to do some luxury shopping on the cheap should hold off. They have re-adjusted the prices of imported goods to reflect the proper exchange rate. (And if you want to talk about sticker shock, try turning over a shoe to see "76,900" written on the tag.) So, bummer: Not actually time to shop.
After the tour, I took time to explore the nearby Red Square, which I promise is relevant to fashion for this reason: In the shadow of the Kremlin lies a building which holds Lenin's corpse. These dudes have kept this corpse so full of chemicals you can see him on display for a couple hours a day certain days of the week, but we couldn't because (seriously) they were changing his suit. Can you imagine? It's someone's job to change the suit on the body of a man who has been dead almost a century. Hey, you can't just let Lenin lie around in a suit that's out of style.
Gross dead bodies aside, I headed back to the venue for the next round of shows. I don't know if it's because I don't hang around Lincoln Center in between shows or if it's a cultural difference, but Manege — the name of the venue here in Moscow — seems to be constantly operating at an aggressively high level of clubiness.
There are large screens that display the the shows in real time, which is how I caught a bizarre runway scenario that I must attempt to describe: The final look of the collection, which was mostly boxing-inspired, was a bride, wearing a red mullet hem dress, red veil, and black boxing gloves. When she reached the end of the runway, she dramatically pulled off the gloves, threw them to the ground, and tugged back her veil. She was crying, natch. Then, out of nowhere, a man appeared at the end of the runway, literally swept her off her feet, and then carried her back to the end where they kissed.
A lot of designers here seem to be obsessed with the idea of creating drama on the runway. Label Dimaneu showed an Asian inspired collection, complete with kabuki makeup. When the show ended, a woman came out and began dramatically dancing, followed by a man underneath a veiled parasol. No, I'm not sure either. The dancer then frantically scattered the rose petals which had been neatly stacked on the runway and then pulled a curtain to reveal all the models posed on a riser.
Speaking of drama, let's talk about the street style here for a moment: For the most part, it is...almost exactly what you would expect it to be. A lot of the people attending the shows are dressed up to the nines, and I also would like to take this opportunity to discuss the fact that many Russians are still doing platform pumps. Now I know why YSL still produces the Tribute heel — the audience is here. Other items which I saw many times over: Chanel "Boy" bags, Valentino Rockstuds and Chanel interlocking C pins on everything. Moscow definitely got the memo that brooches are making a comeback.
And much like other fashion weeks, there are photographers here to document it all. In fact, Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21ème, Diego Zuko of The Outsider, and Craig Arend of Altamira NYC contributed some of their photography from last season' fashion week to the "IX Moscow Biennale 'Fashion and Style in the Photography'" exhibition held in the lower level of the venue. The photos were gorgeous, and the whole thing was curated by Olga Sviblova, who I am told is the most powerful curator in Russia. I believe it. When she showed up, she managed to totally command the space, even over the giant Russian man who serves as fashion week director. Like, I need to be this woman when I grow up.
But back to the shows: Ukranian designer Yasya Minochkina was one I was particularly excited to see on the calendar, and she did not disappoint. She had just shown at Kiev's fashion week the day before, but you wouldn't have been able to guess that the collection had been thrown into five suitcases and hastily brought to Moscow. The clothes were the right mix of feminine and cool, accessorized with shoes from Pharrell's Adidas collection. The Central Saint Martins alum is another who would not look out of place on the main fashion month circuit.
Another promising Russian designer is Walk of Shame. You know you've got a legit fashion operation happening when there's beef, and Saturday brought some serious fashion drama. Walk of Shame — easily one of Russia's biggest and buzziest brands — was showing Saturday night, but was not on the official calendar. Moscow is not like New York, where many designers choose to show off-site. The schedule here is much less packed and it was clearly not an issue of Mercedes-Benz being unable to accomodate one more show. We're sure designer Andrey Artyomov has his reasons.
I didn't end up going because I got word that Dree Hemingway was kicking it in the VIP lounge. So random, right? Hemingway worked with Mercedes Benz on a recent fashion campaign, and they have been flying her out to various fashion weeks across the globe. Despite being incredibly jet lagged, she was super sweet and looked cool in that way It Girls always do. The only show she attended was that of American menswear brand Musika Frere, who came to Moscow to test the market in Russia. Afterwards, I chatted a bit with Dree who agreed that while she didn't know much about menswear, she did think the model with the beard which matched his coat was hot.
The last thing on the schedule was the after party for Yasya Minochkina. The thing about fashion after parties is that they're more or less the same everywhere: Cool location (Four Seasons club looking out towards the Kremlin: Check), great music (Moscow's hottest DJ: Check), and lots of ridiculously good looking people (Yours truly: Check, duh). Two things made this one a standout: One, Minochkina is maybe the nicest person I've met in Russia. Two, I had literally the best Moscow Mule of my life. I don't think I'll ever be able to order one again, it was that good.
A handful of us attempted to go to another Moscow hotspot for dinner, but half of us showed up trailing in a different taxi and weren't let in by the bouncer. I don't know if you know this, but uh, it's cold in Russia, so after a couple of arctic blasts of wind, our curiosity about the restaurant was replaced with a desire to be inside somewhere warm with a martini — which is how I ended up eating another late night burger back at the hotel. Fashion!
Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia has paid for my travel and accommodations to attend and cover the event.