ULYANA SERGEENKO – HAUTE COUTURE
Ever the fashion-maker as a storyteller, for her new haute couture collection Ulyana Sergeenko looks back at the first quarter of the 20th century – a utopian, exciting and slightly frightening time in Russian history – devising an inventive fairy tale for adults based on ideas of change, evolution, revolution.
USSR was the never-to-be-realized dream of the perfect world, born from the violent destruction of the old order. As the Tzars were forced out of Russia and churches’ bells fused to create propaganda sculptures, the Moscow metro was built.
Then Russian artists were actively involved in the political scene. Although heavily under government control, they were instigators in the development of new ways to look at things, write about things, and imagine beauty. It was a brief moment of intense change that led to the birth of new mentalities, new styles and new lifestyles: active, constructive, positive. Ulyana Sergeenko pays homage to such visions. Relying on the power of imagination to build singular connections, she imagines stories in which human invention and nature find a new way to coexist and cohabit, creating a singular aesthetic.
The collection draws inspiration from the rich source of the art, architecture, music and typography produced in revolutionary Russia. It mixes utopian thinking with the bold visuals of propaganda, the egalitarianism of Bauhaus with the geometry of Constructivism, couture and the world of uprising peasants, never forsaking the womanly silhouettes Ulyana is known for.
The frozen motions of steel statues run by the winds of chance are captured into nipped-waist dresses made of pleated metalized fabrics, upon which branches of mimosas and lilacs are embroidered. The same flowers, an important element in Socialist celebrations, are used on weightless boas, while ears of wheat are drawn onto silk jumpsuits. The paintings of Natalia Goncharova turn into intricate hand-made layers of intarsia Yelets lace (called after the Russian town Yelets which is known for a worldwide unique technique of creating the most delicate lace works) on short dresses matched with workwear-inspired patent leather aprons. Tops are constructed by gradients of knitted mohair in homage to Kazimir Malevich and Tamara Lempicka, while the wood and stone intarsia clutches are a nod to the Moscow metro, with its granite walls, whimsical mosaics and intriguing stained glass decorations.
Materials marry the coldness of the avant-garde with the warmth of feminine sophistication: Yelets lace, gauze, organza,