12 Fashion Collections Inspired By Russian Culture

Vivien Moon
Feb 21, 2017 · 6 min read

Get to know what design houses have been inspired by Mother Russia over the years

1. Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent / Via drawnground.co.uk

One of the first designers to pay homage to Russia and it’s traditional garments was the one and only Yves Saint Laurent. His 1976 Fall/Winter collection included peasant dresses, fur trims and dainty embroidery over rich scarlet, emerald and gold hues. This was monumental time in fashion history as the collection went on to be the subject of an exhibit, Le Costume Populaire Russe in 2009. Inspired by his trip to Russia in 1959 with Dior, Laurent referenced Cossack warriors, “Ballets Russes” and literary heroines like Anna Karenina and Natasha Rostova. Laurent himself regarded this collection as one of his finest, “I don’t know if this is my best collection. But it is my most beautiful collection.”

2. Chanel

Chanel / Via vogue.com

“Paris-Moscou” was the theme for Chanel’s Pre-Fall 2009 collection. It was Byzantine empress meets modern woman who enjoys intricate embroidery, pearls and a showstopping headdress. Karl Lagerfeld’s creations weren’t a far stretch from Coco Chanel’s interests considering her connections to Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, Sergei Diaghilev and Igor Stravinsky. Chanel has had a longstanding link to Russian culture since the 1910’s that includes Cuir de Russie, a sent Coco made with the czar’s perfumer in 1927. The overall collection was distinctly Russian done in a high fashion way only Lagerfeld knows how to do.

3. Valentino

Photos by Yannis Vlamos / Indigitalimages.com / Via vogue.com

Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli brought Russian folkloric style into modern day with this collection. Valentino’s Spring 2015 Couture looks paid homage to painter Marc Chagall and his Russian roots. Romantic in nature, the garments had splendid use of appliques, floral motifs and tulle. With the empire waists and sleek silhouettes there is a bit of old-world charm within each ensemble.

4. John Galliano

Photos by Marcio Madeira / Via vogue.com

As to be expected, John Galliano’s Fall 2009 ready-to-wear collection was an exaggerated play on Slavic style. What’s more Russian than heavy coats, frosted cheekbones and a little drama? While the collection partially borders on costume it’s distinctly Galliano who goes above and beyond to ensure accuracy with his immaculate attention to detail. Over the top silhouettes, layered coats and peasant sleeves bring forward memories of Russian countrysides.

5. Ralph Lauren

Photos by Filippo Fior / InDigital | GoRunway / Via vogue.com

Ralph Lauren’s Fall 2013 ready-to-wear collection brings together the chic aesthetic of the designer with the cool attitude of the Russian woman. Lavish textiles with dark hues brought forth a rich sophistication allowing the clothes to speak for themselves. While the collection doesn’t scream Russia, there are evident notes of Russian inspiration in the Cossack pants and occasional Cossack hat. It’s the simple nuances of the garments that connects them to Russian culture.

6. Tao

Photos by Marcio Madeira / Via vogue.com

Grandiose and deeply whimsical are a few ways to describe Tao’s Fall 2009 ready-to-wear collection. With it’s Eastern European nods and feminine allure, each look showcased different ways to layer intricate garments. Tao Kurihara experimented with traditional Slavic prints, babydoll silhouettes and dramatic volume along with eye-catching headpieces. There is alse no shortage of red, a color symbolic of the Russian nation but also associated with passion and power. As a designer Tao elevated the peasant dresses she proved that style isn’t always correlated to status.

7. Alice McCall

Photos by Allan James Barger / Via fashionising.com

Alice McCall took it upon herself to answer the question, “can babooshka’s be style icons?” For her Spring/Summer 2012 ‘Babooshka’ collection McCall created a younger vision of Russian matriarchs, one that wears pastel shorts and floral embroidered peplums. Her use of folk prints, feminine silhouettes and accessories (those headscarves!) embody Russian youth.

8. Kenzo

Marcio Madeira / Via vogue.com

Fall 2009 seems to have fueled a resurrection of interest in Russian fashion. This is evident with Kenzo’s ready-to-wear collection that delivered quilted dresses, patchworks and floral prints inspired by “lonely dachas”. Antonio Marras went full force with his designs that embody the fashion forward Muscovites while also appealing to their sensible roots. Poufed out sleeves and cinched waists mirrored Soviet style that’s a not so distant memory for many Russian women.

9. Banana Republic

Banana Republic / Via dailymail.co.uk

Banana Republic was directly inspired by the 2012 film Anna Karenina, a Leo Tolstoy novel brought to the big screen. In collaboration with the film’s costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, the retailer’s Fall 2012 line embodies the style of 19th Century Russian elite. Faux fur, touches of lace and savvy tailoring mixed in a modern way appeal to every woman’s inner czarina.

10. Dolce & Gabbana

Fashion to max / Via fashiontomax.com

In celebration of the opening of their grand, four storied store in the center of Moscow, Sicilian designer duo Dolce & Gabbana released the #DGLovesMoscow capsule collection. Fitted skirts, fur lined jackets, brocade and sheath dresses embodied the Muscovite style. The collection was sold exclusively at the Tretyakovsky Proezd 2 store that opened in late October 2015. Unlike previous designers, Dolce & Gabbana’s designs focused on the modern Russian woman. They implemented simple Russian motifs without being too literal which is why the collection became a favorite with the locals.

11. Charlotte Olympia

Charlotte Olympia / Via purseblog.com

While it’s not a full-on collection, accessories designer Charlotte Olympia was clearly influenced by Russia’s favorite nesting doll. The matryoshka is a longstanding symbol of Russian culture and these clutches can bring a little humor to any outfit. Charlotte Dellal is known for her whimsical designs as she takes inspiration from the world around her and brings life to her work as evident in these pieces. The floral motifs aren’t to be overlooked as they too have a place in Russian fashion.

12. Christian Lacroix

While the entire collection isn’t necessarily Russian inspired, the Christian Lacroix Fall 2009 Haute Couture collection gets a worthy mention for its finale showstopper. Model Vlada Roslyakova walked out in a Russian bride inspired ensemble that editorial dreams are made of. Gold appliques paired with a Byzantine inspired headpiece display the traditional Orthodox elegance many a young Russian bride aspires to.

Originally published at www.buzzfeed.com.

Vivien Moon

Written by

Fashion Journalist, Dubai. Find me on Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Depesha or send me a tweet.

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