Russia’s isolation from the Western fashion world as a result of sanctions concentrated minds at Moscow Fashion Week.
The bloody invasion of Ukraine ordered by President Vladimir Putin on 24 February led to international designers pulling out of Russia in line with the West’s general shutdown of ties in outrage at the carnage.
Now Russia’s own fashion designers are left wondering how they can stay in business without access to imported materials.
Russian fashion designer Olga Sinitsyna thought the coronavirus pandemic was the worst that could happen to her industry but as a result of the conflict her logistics are “10 times more expensive”, she told Reuters news agency.
“You have to understand that everything you see here is not made from Russian raw materials,” she said, after Moscow Fashion Week ended on Sunday. “These are raw materials from Italy. China… But here the choice is either you make it or you cry and do nothing. I choose to make it.”
“Our collections are made entirely of foreign materials, that is, there is nothing Russian except for the team,” another designer, Olesya Shipovskaya, told the Associated Press. “Everything else, from fusible [materials] to any button, any trim, sewing machines, there is nothing that we produce in our country.”
Albina Akkulova, known for fairy tale-inspired dresses, suggests that designers will be forced to channel some of their energy into promoting domestic fashion manufacturing. “For Russia as a whole, it’s new possibilities,” she told Reuters. “We’ll create something of our own.”
Clearly the glamour of Moscow’s 2022 fashion week, when designers from 79 cities across Russia paraded their collections in different parts of the city before tens of thousands of spectators, belies a hard struggle ahead as long as the war continues.