Ulyana Sergeenko is a storyteller. Couture is her way to depict adventures, invent characters and dress them in exquisitely feminine creations that are naively sensual as they are narrative. From a family of philologists, Sergeenko’s memories and layered cultural background create the unique texture of a peculiar fantasy world, full of idiosyncratic associations.
Ulyana Sergeenko reflects on Soviet childhoods of intense reading spent jumping from one imaginary adventure to the next and years passed cherishing books as precious doors to parallel dimensions. With these recollections, Sergeenko presents her second couture collection drawing inspiration from the magic and surprising spirit of children’s literature, both Soviet and American. Like Scarlett O’Hara falling head-first into The Wizard of Oz, or the Headless Horseman sharing secrets with Tom Sawyer, the collection unfolds sinuously allowing characters to come alive and the atmosphere to morph and surprise. Outfit follows outfit like the turning of pages of a lavishly illustrated book.
Sergeenko’s signature shapes are feminine and seductive. An element of mischief lifts the tone landing a certain legeretè to diffuse the sense of drama. Hems are deliberately frayed; a bustle left undone, as well as lace details on a blouse hinting at exposed lingerie; ruffles cascade and swarm on a gown. There is a constant play of opposites: precious and rustic, feminine and adventurous. Structured peplums are made of straw; embroidered saddlebags tied around the waist draw an archetypal hourglass; a crocheted apron is worn on top of a floor-sweeping skirt. A grand taffeta gown in grass green pays homage to an epic moment of Gone with the Wind. Backs are deeply cut and feminine. The silhouette is either short and flirty or long and romantic, with Sergeenko’s signature nipped waist. Wide straw hats created by Stephen Jones top it all.
Exquisite handiwork creates a parallel story through the wonder of craft. Naive animals surface on enamel earrings, porcelain buttons and crochet embroideries; multicolor beading gives shawls and blouses a dreamy consistency. Even clear Perspex clutches and cat-eyed sunglasses are embroidered with multicolor threads, while wooden box bags are hand painted with fairy-tale scenes. Straw is used as embroidery on velvet.
The delicate color palette and naive decorative motifs are inspired by the enchanted works of Russian illustrator Yuri Vasnetsov. Pale tones of mint, beige, ivory, melon, blue, pink, nude, blush and apricot are mixed with ash grey and broken with black.
Accessories include oversized fedora hats stolen from grandpa’s wardrobe, little straw and draped taffeta headpieces, and platform stilettos in nude and black leather.