I'm now more than halfway through Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, but the very first show I saw, fresh off the plane, remains a standout. Designer Ksenia Seraya made her runway debut on Friday at the biannual event after being invited by its organizers. "They called me and said, 'Okay, you are [talented], come and [put on] the show for free," she said backstage. And what a debut it was: in a city where craftsmanship on the runway is not always on par with the designer work in the more established fashion capitals, Seraya delivered a knitwear collection that was impressive both in construction and style.
Seraya has been designing clothing for a decade, having earned degrees from the Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing in Florence and interned in the knitting department at Ermanno Scervino. "They invited me for a job but I [couldn't] move to Italy because of visa," she said. She returned to Moscow and launched her namesake label in 2013, experimenting with knitting software that she likens to a 3-D printer. It allows her to merge synthetic, chiffon-like material with traditional yarns like wool and cotton. The result is delicate knit pieces that hold the structure of a silhouette while still creating movement. Seraya says she relishes in the challenge of breaking new technical ground with her knits, a process she does alone.
In regards to the spring 2016 collection she showed Friday, Seraya name-checked artists of two different mediums as inspiration: American sculptor Alexander Calder, whose movement-filled static pieces she tries to emulate through knitwear; and the late avant-garde German dancer Pina Bausch, who collaborated in 1998 with designer Yohji Yamamoto on a collection featuring a red dress that made an impact on Seraya. She made a red dress for her collection in Bausch's spirit.
While the brand is currently sold in only three shops in Moscow, Seraya is not worrying about market expansion quite yet. "Step by step, I think," she said. "It's more important to make good stuff and if I make enough, people will want to buy it." Knitwear is Seraya's life passion, she said, and infusing her designs with a "piece of her soul" is her highest aim. With a platform like MBFWR, hopefully buyers will take note.
See Ksenia Seraya's spring 2016 collection in the gallery below.