Always an herald of inventive storytelling, Ulyana Sergeenko keeps exploring the narrative powers of fashion-making as a way to create contemporary parallels between eras and characters. This season she delves into the archetype of the detective story, with its iconic protagonists: gangsters and their belles, and the detectives who fight them. History, Ulyana Sergeenko thinks, is not always written by positive characters. There is a fascinating power in villains, especially in their love for the beauty of good life.
The collection, apropos, is another celebration of beauty explored along a narrative journey full of unexpected detours. It starts in the Forties, when the cribs were on the rise and all major Soviet cities became the playground for the black marketers, pickpockets and the street gangs, and then expands with nods to the criminal life of New Orleans, sleepless New York and Chicago. Gangsters of all times and continents all crave for glory, and this is what the collection celebrates, mixing Al Capone and street punks, burlesque divas and Michael Jackson.
The silhouette has the strict elegance of the Forties: waists are nipped, shoulders are marked, trousers are wide and cropped. The severely masculine and the unabashedly feminine juxtapose in a glamorous counterpoint of extremes. Wool suits and barrel coats have a mannish allure that softens in the slouchy boudoir robes. Stray bullets and guns turn into embroideries, or are woven in Yelets and Vologda lace decorating coats, skirts and buttons. Bow-ties, braces and trumpets appear as embroideries too, further stressing the play of masculine and feminine. The femmes fatales materialize in the curvaceous dresses richly embroidered with crystals and marabou feathers, in the lingerie pieces worn under exaggerated fur coats. Detectives appear too, in their trademark concealing fedoras.
Fabrics are masculine suiting wools and leathers, or extremely feminine organza, chiffon, silk, satin, jersey, Vologda and Yelets lace. Fur, developed with Sagafurs, adds a sensual touch. The color palette is a sophisticated amalgamation of khaki, blue, brown, red, powder and classic black, white, gold.
Accessories include three travel bags – a gangster’s must – and rose-shaped femme fatale clutches; shoes are either classic pumps or low heeled styles inspired by gangster spats. Bullets become earrings, and so do carnation flowers. Michael Jackson Gloves, bow gloves and hats – fedoras, cut-out exaggerated fedoras, berets – complete the image, together with key ring and watch chains hanging from belt loops, and coltshaped broaches.