After tackling the spring 2017 shows in New York, London and Milan and Paris, we've kept the fashion train rolling all the way through to Moscow, where the 33rd season of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia (#MBFWRussia) is currently underway in the nation's capital.
Read on for the looks that caught our attention from the weekend shows, and stay tuned for more until the event wraps up on Tuesday.
Portnoy Beso describes itself as a "couture brand," and though its pieces may appear to be slightly different than the couture we're so used to seeing in Paris, it certainly qualifies as couture here in Moscow. Designer Beso Tura came to Russia from Dubai, where he had been a personal tailor of the Royal House. One can see those Middle Eastern inspirations — as well as his background in Georgia, where he was first exposed to eveningwear — in his creations, with some incredibly ornate gowns mingling nicely with more casual ready-to-wear. I, for one, was drawn to this velvet wrap dress, which featured an electric red lining and navy tassel waist belt, the latter of which was quite representative of Beso's time in Dubai.
Having been born and raised in Ukraine, designer Yasya Minochkina cut her teeth at both Central Saint Martins and the Royal Academy of Fine Art before moving to Russia to found her eponymous label. She presented her first runway collection in Kiev, with her spring 2015 collection later becoming part of the LVMH Prize contest. Her designs reflect both her training and her skill: This season, Minochkina presented a line that was heavily influenced by florals, with patterns that included ruby red poppies, delicate daises and artistic tulips, pictured above. This particular garment was a standout; it looked almost cherubic as it lightly floated down the runway, and was almost reminiscent of something Valentino or Delpozo might show. I especially liked that it was paired with flats.
Russian brand Laroom is largely focused on cocktail dresses and eveningwear, with its previous collections being comprised of beautifully high-collared gowns and tiered ruffled dresses; it's a label that, I imagine, would sell well for a retailer like Net-a-Porter. It also places a focus on what it calls "veiled sexuality," with any deep V-necks or bodice cut-outs being covered with lace. That's why I loved this frilly, lacy dress so much: Among a collection that was filled with elegant, "Downton Abbey"-esque princess frocks, this piece was the most delectable of the bunch. It would look so chic with a dewy makeup look and heels, or even with a leather jacket and white Converse sneakers.
Ksenia Knyazeva was first launched in 2010 and has carved out a niche of its own for women who desire to wear designer pieces in everyday life. Six years since its start, the Moscow-based label is now available for purchase all over Russia, making its show one of the hottest tickets of MBFW Russia. But the brand delivered on any and all high expectations: This season, the show adopted an under-the-sea theme, hanging strands of effervescent fish ornaments all along the runway from the ceiling. Many looks reflected this theme directly, with starfish and seahorses adorning a majority of pieces. But this gown, transparent and embellished with champagne-colored baubles, was much less literal, looking more like a mermaid than any other ocean creature. It shimmered as it walked down the runway.
Saint-Tokyo — launched by designer Yury Pitenin in St. Petersburg in 2012 — closed out the Friday shows with a literal bang: The cool-kid label enlisted the booming help of a live band (who were friends of Pitenin's) to provide the soundtrack for the show. Of what I've seen so far, this collection (as well as the presentation as a whole) has been my one of my favorites. With a heavy streetwear influence, Pitenin is very much clued into where the fashion ecosystem is headed. (Think Vetements, Off-White and Opening Ceremony as similar points of reference.) And judging by the clothing, perhaps there was a reason Pitenin brought in his musician pals. There was a definite rock 'n' roll motif here: Some pieces, like the above top, came complete with guitar patches, while other looks were simply styled as if ready to hop on a tour bus.
Launched by St. Petersburg-based sisters Katya and Vera Viper (their real last name!) in 2012, Vipers places a heavy emphasis on color, embroidery and experimentation. (The pair has won a slew of design awards, including the prestigious Hand & Lock Prize in London in 2014.) And true to its name, the brand incorporates the snake motif into many of its pieces, including this slightly baggy tuxedo-slash-jumpsuit with a snakeskin collar. The styling — worn as is, simply without a shirt — lent some sensuality to a potentially sporty look; it stood out among a largely tomboyish collection.
There was a palpable level of excitement surrounding designer Goga Nikabadze's show, partially due to the fact that he's a beloved part of MBFW Russia, but also because he's Georgian. Call it the Demna Gvasalia Effect, but much of the fashion industry has its eyes on those talents coming out of cities like Tbilisi. Nikabadze's shows are always a production. For spring 2017, the lights were dimmed; the soundtrack was set to calming beach noises, with waves and the occasional seagull; models sauntered down the runway at an extremely slow pace, giving showgoers the time they need to properly take in (and photograph) the clothing. And while the show started out with a rich gold color palette, it slowly transitioned to soft pinks and shades of red. In the look above, I enjoyed the structure of the jacket — especially the cinched waist band and the velvet breast pockets — in contrast to the flowing pleats of the pants, the latter of which were very Balmain-esque.
Sorry, I'm Not
I felt forced to choose not one, not two, but three looks from Sorry, I'm Not's runway show, which undeniably felt like the highlight of the entire week. The presentation was nabbed that coveted final slot on Saturday evening, and was filled to the brim with a rowdy crowd ready to head out into the Moscow party scene soon after. And the show reflected as much, opening with a series of pulsating electronic beams to drum up excitement. But as one of the buzziest designers showing during MBFW Russia, this Moscow-based label needn't build up the hype — it's already there.
Aesthetically, Sorry, I'm Not toes the line between being recognizable and exciting. If it's silhouettes already semi-exist in brands like Vetements, its production methods are quite unique. Each piece is manually printed on the surface of 100 percent cotton, which means that mass production isn't an option; instead, each collection is more of a capsule. The show's first look, pictured above, is representative of that craftsmanship, as well as Sorry, I'm Not's memorable detailing, like exposed zippers, grommets and satin ribbons.
Paging a Mr. Harry Styles: Chances are, you don't already own a fitted suit in a moth print, but if you're in the market, Sorry, I'm Not has just the one for you.
And just one more — because wouldn't you kill to wear this sharp, glossy concoction to a red carpet event, too?
Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia paid for my travel and accommodations to attend and cover the event.