November 01, 1996

Taking Fashion to the French

Of the brave first generation of Russian fashion designers, no one is as flamboyant and extravagant as Valentin Yudashkin (photo below). Yekaterina Ignatova finds out what lies behind the success of this eccentric aesthete. Sketches and Yudashkin photo courtesy of Yudashkin House of Fashion. Other photos by Mikhail Bogachov.


In Soviet times, the concept of a fashionable woman always had a negative shade of meaning. Genuine ‘builders of communism’ simply could not be fashionably dressed. While overalls or KGB uniforms might have been considered ideal dress for the Soviet woman, in real life she would normally wear locally-manufactured skirt suits resembling working clothes. If she were very lucky, she could buy clothes produced in socialist bloc countries, but this generally required spending half a day standing in line. Moreover, as the imported clothes often arrived in big batches of identical items, women found themselves dressing in a kind of involuntary uniform, and there was little room for the expression of individuality.

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