Furry balls were like puffs of snow — at the wrist, the waist, the long hemline or on high-heeled shoes. But this was a sleeker vision of the fashion fairy tales once offered by Russian designer Ulyana Sergeenko.
Whereas previous collections embraced the grandeur of the tsars and the sweetness of life on the summer tundra, this time Ulyana was inspired by post-revolutionary Russia, when, in her words, “the Bolsheviks created a bizarre form of shared living”.
What it meant for this designer was a new code: liberty, modesty, integrity — and a sense of lightness. Loyal to her Russian roots, but embracing today’s world, she sent out a comprehensive collection, vivid in its sweet colours, such as baby blue, blush pink, petrol, teal and royal blue. But a simplicity of cut hinted at the arrival of angular constructivism in art.
Ulyana has absorbed the realities of couture today: that it is made to be worn by modern women. In the mostly long dresses, fitted neatly to the body, she included details inspired by communal apartment living, from basic lamps to the joy of sparkling Christmas decorations.
The collection was not so down-to-earth, unless you think of the inspiration of a winter garden. The pre-communist decadence lingered in mink baby bonnets, by milliner Stephen Jones, and with colourful fur pompoms on Christian Louboutin shoes and boots. But the collection also had, in a controlled form, dense peasant handwork. Such decoration came through as intricate but realistic.
This show was a real step forward for Ulyana, from costume creations — however heartfelt — to fashion reality. Let’s call it a little Russian revolution of her own.