“My parents were diplomats so I lived abroad for long periods of time. When I used to come back to the Soviet Union, the choice in terms of clothing was small and limited” recalls Aizel Trudel, founder and CEO of Aizel.ru, the first online marketplace for fashion and luxury goods in Russia.
Trudel started by introducing the French shoe brand Christian Louboutin into Russia twenty years ago. It was quickly followed by other international labels such as Chanel, Gucci, Burberry, Fendi, Prada, Miu Miu…, that trust her expertise to sell their goods to this particular audience. Today, she launches a special collaboration with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia by opening the doors of this exclusive platform to 100 emerging local designers.
“I am quite patriotic and I believe this is my responsibility to support Russian designers because amongst them you find truly creative people such as Alexander Tikhomirov, Sasha Tikhomirov, Walk of Shame, Vika Gazinskaya, Artem Krivda,.....”
“I want to give them the opportunity to be seen by customers worldwide, buyers, and European showrooms. At the moment, these brands are confidential and their production is very limited because their financial capacities are reduced. They can’t afford to go abroad and show their work on an international stage.” she says. Ultimately, the goal of this partnership is to provide support and expertise to these labels born after the 90’s.
A day into the life of a model during a fashion week
Moscow based model Gauhar, originally from Turkmenistan, also witnessed the development of the fashion week having walked the Moscow catwalks for the past 4 years for designers such as Vika Gazinskaya, Ksenia Knyazeva, Karina Khimchinskaya, and today, Mursak by Nilufar Abduvalieva. She was happy to share with me some of her modelling wisdom and allowed me to follow her from the backstages to the podium.
“I think the Fashion Week in Moscow has changed a lot in the last couple of years. It’s more and more international, which is something I really like because being an Asian model, I sometimes found it hard to succeed at castings here in the past. Now, I am very in demand.” she told me as we were driving from Hotel Metropol to Manège, the event space where all the shows are held.
As she rushed into her fitting for Mursak, I asked her how she copes with the stress of these intense few days. “A good shower and a nutritious breakfast every morning” is her secret weapon. I then followed her through “hair and makeup” where the atmosphere was saturated with a thick layer of hairspray and crowded with models making selfies to kill time between shows.
A taste of authentic and fresh Russian ready to wear
Attending the shows of Oksana Fedorova and Kondakova, two major designers here, I witnessed what Aizel Trudel and Gauhar mentioned to me. This fashion week really is trying to reach a global audience by offering authentic ready to wear. From day to night, these garments had a feminine touch and nice cuts, and could easily be seen hanging in the Fashion capital’s department stores of the world.
3 questions to Anastasia Kondakova
Q1. Can you tell us a little bit about you and how you became a designer?
“It was just a question of time. I remember myself drawing dresses for dolls when I was a child, and growing up, the idea of creating garments for women was in my head all the time. Due to the economic situation in the nineties in Russia, my parents decided that it would be better for me to study economics at university. With time, I turned to art and design after years of working for multinationals, and launched my own brand, Kondakova, in 2015.”
Q2. Who is the Kondakova woman?
“A real woman’s history underlies each collection and there are no age boundaries. The woman who chooses her own path and makes the external environment fit her mood. Her appearance is always unforgettable. That’s why our brand philosophy is: “Do not change yourself to fit the world but change the world to fit you”.
Q3. What is the general spirit and highlight pieces of your A/W 18-19 collection?
“Widen belts accentuating the waist, checked suit and fleecy nap - a texture which is more popular now than ever before. The parka-coat made of two-side wool with lurex filament and innovative thermal insulation withstanding temperatures up to -20 degrees, without excessive volume, will become the top seller of the collection.”
Achieving fashion recognition and maturity on a global scale
Although most of these Millennials brands want to retain their Russian identity they also wish to achieve fashion recognition and maturity on a global scale. The Mursak show - gave the best illustration of this double tendency as the collection was clearly divided into two segments. On the one side, a traditional set of Uzbek dowry called sarpa resonated with the local audience that cheered and applauded every look walking down the runway.
On the other side, a selection of charming and well styled contemporary outfits mixing Eastern and Western influences, modelled by up and coming models such as Gauhar, ravished and resonated with the international press.
“We have still a lot to build like a production for the creation of textile material (most of the precious fabrics are imported from Europe) and a solid manufacture industry to help designers produce their clothes in this country”, Aizel Trudel concludes. The good thing is, most of the new generation of Russian designers are very motivated to do so.
Day 4 ends here. Stay tuned for Day 5, our final stop at Moscow Fashion Week. Stick with us on Instagram and connect with us via #livingit.