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Russia Fashion Week Makes a Case for Slow-Moving Models

And other thoughts from my first day at the shows in Moscow.
A look at Ne Tiger. Photo: Eliza Brooke

A look at Ne Tiger. Photo: Eliza Brooke

All this week, Fashionista's Eliza Brooke is hanging out in Moscow, Russia — and by hanging out, we mean zipping around to shows to report semi-live from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia. (Hey, there's a seven hour time difference.) Catch her daily diary here

After a red-eye flight and a drive down streets flanked by spindly trees still hanging on to their yellow leaves, I arrived in the heart of Moscow. Sleepless and skin on the verge of a dehydration breakout. But breathless! Russia!

At the hotel, I took a shower and the world's deepest 20-minute nap, during which I believe I may have briefly crossed over to the other side, and headed down the street to the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia venue. It is nearly identical to my memory of fashion week at Lincoln Center — violet lights, cars on display, sponsor kiosks lining the walls. My jet-lagged brain registered this with an embarrassing degree of relief.

Just a few shows into my time here, by far the most striking detail about MBFW Russia is the pace at which the models walk down the runway. At most of the shows I've been to in my career, the models stomp or bobble along at warp speed, depending on their footwear; if you let your gaze trail after one look, you'll probably miss the next one. Tyler told me before I left New York that long shows were common in Moscow, but some stuff you just have to experience to understand. At my first show, for Chinese brand Ne Tiger, the models sauntered by at the most casual pace imaginable, allowing onlookers to process every detail, from the lace flowers cut to dangle off the back of an orange dress to the glittering stones set into the shoulder of a short fur coat.

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Beyond being incredibly editor-friendly in that respect, the show required a real performance from the models, who seemed to possess the calm confidence to take their time getting to the end of the catwalk and, on the return leg of the journey, enough Naomi Campbell-like showmanship and body awareness to elegantly spin back toward the cameras for another pose. 

"Oh," I thought, watching a model turn over her shoulder to give the cameras a romantic and vaguely tragic look, as though she were saying goodbye to a lover while boarding the Titanic. "That's what the word 'allure' means."

It's the sort of posturing that's meant to elevate your idea of what life can be. It's old-school fashion. While plenty of modern-day supers have walks buzzing with sexual energy, there's also a lot of awkward and robotic plodding happening. Ungainly can be charming, but it proves problematic when the rubber meets the so-called road — that is, when Jeremy Scott asks his Moschino models to work the hell out of the goofy props he's handed them.

Looking around the venue here, though, the models' pursuit of extreme elegance made sense. The women coming to the shows wore full faces of makeup that would make any beauty vlogger swoon in happiness, and they dressed up. There were stilettos everywhere and very little of the intentional carelessness we fetishize in New York.

Wearing my standard fashion week uniform of black Timberlands and a denim jacket, it dawned on me that perhaps I could try slightly harder, too. The next morning, I put on a little lipstick.