Paris Fall 2014 Couture: Ulyana Sergeenko
Leave it to Russian designer Ulyana Sergeenko to bring the politics into couture. The situation in the Ukraine has affected her deeply, as it has for most who have emotional and familial ties to that region. The upheaval inspired her to look back to the fall of the Russian Empire a hundred years ago and draw her inspiration.
For a moment it looked like the entire collection might be a militaristic enterprise as the first outfit emerged as a long leather coat.
But it wasn’t all trench warfare. After all, our designer has high-end Russian refugees in London to cater to. Instead what followed were gowns with an over the top early 20th century flare, or taking the leather and twisting it into architectural shapes.
Sergeenko also made sure to include her signature molded bustiers, here in a butter yellow and a silver and pink.
But the leather wasn’t far and the wheat pattern suggested a time when propaganda promoted the growing of grains for the good of the masses. (On the other hand, the molded mohair in neon colors recalled the 1980s when the USSR fell.)
There were hints of the early 1900s and Tsarist Russia in the old school house coat wraps, clearly meant today for going out. But there was also plenty of 21st century in the dresses found under them.
The Sheaves of Wheat motif also turned up on a leather jumpsuit that looked like a better idea on paper than it did reality. Better for it to embroider a bright yellow 1950s style frock.
These are two of the collection highlights that didn’t really fit within the stated motif. The right hand bodice does have some leather to tie back, but the left hand minidress is flirty and proud and not interested in politics in the slightest.
To close the show, Sergeenko sent out two outfits from the opposite ends of the Russian spectrum. On the left, a fur-trimmed pantsuit glamorous enough to supplant regular red carpet wear. On the right a molded bodice and tulle number that would not be out of place int he Russian Ballet.
It could have been a dress from the turn of the last century or the turn of this one. But either way, as wars break out, Sergeenko will make sure there’s still beauty (and Ostrich Feather Embellishments) in the world.
(pictures via Getty Images)