‘Soviet Christian Dior’ vows to keep Russian fashion colorful

A customer stands next to creations of Slava Zaitsev, Russia’s most famous fashion designer, at the fashion house in Moscow in this November 2017 photo. Dubbed the “Soviet Christian Dior” in the 1960s by the French press, the designer achieved global success with bright dresses adorned with the flower patterns found on traditional Russian shawls. (AFP)
Updated 25 January 2018
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‘Soviet Christian Dior’ vows to keep Russian fashion colorful

MOSCOW: At almost 80, Russia’s most famous fashion designer Slava Zaitsev is far from finished fighting “the greyness of everyday life” with the rich colors of designs inspired by his homeland’s folk costumes.
Dubbed the “Soviet Christian Dior” in the 1960s by the French press, the designer achieved global success with bright dresses adorned with the flower patterns found on traditional Russian shawls.
Despite this, Zaitsev wore a simple black suit for an interview with AFP at his 10-story “House of Fashion” in central Moscow.
The designer looked back at his eventful career, from a modest childhood in Ivanovo, a town of 400,000 people to the north east of the capital, to the catwalks of Paris, New York and Tokyo.
“When I was a child, my mother taught me embroidery so I wouldn’t roam the streets without purpose. In the evenings I would pick flowers with girls on Lenin Avenue to draw them and recreate them in embroidery. That’s how I began my adventure in art,” said Zaitsev.
Born into a poor family with a mother who worked as a cleaner, Zaitsev initially was barred from attending a top-flight university because his father, taken captive by the Nazis during World War II, was, like other former prisoners-of-war, labeled an “enemy of the people” by the suspicious regime of Joseph Stalin and sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp.
Zaitsev studied at a vocational college until the age of 18 and then went on to the unglamorous Moscow Textile Institute.
“During my studies, I lived with a family whose children I looked after. The apartment was tiny and I slept on the floor under the table,” he recalled.
In 1962, Zaitsev’s first collection of clothes — a uniform for female workers that featured skirts with the flower patterns of traditional Russian shawls and multicolored boots — was rejected by Soviet authorities.
“The colors were too bright and contrasted with the greyness of Soviet everyday life, where an individual should not differ from the rest of society,” he said.
But the collection nonetheless attracted international attention. In 1963, French magazine Paris Match became the first Western media outlet to describe Zaitsev as a pioneer of Soviet fashion.
Watched closely by the KGB because of his contacts with Western designers and his flamboyant character, Zaitsev was initially refused permission to leave the Soviet Union and his first collections were shown abroad without him.
“I did not understand. What sort of state secret could I pass on to my foreign colleagues? Thank God this era is long gone,” he said.
Zaitsev, who turns 80 in March, remembered his first trips abroad where “everything was different,” including the way people dressed: “no greyness, no sadness and no clichés.”
Zaitsev said he finds happiness “working with people every day” in creating designs for his individual clients, rather than for catwalk shows.
Between 2007 and 2009, he presented a popular television show called “The Verdict of Fashion,” in which stylists dressed participants in the latest street looks.
At 79, he says he only sleeps five hours a night and works with the latest software to create new patterns for his materials.
Zaitsev counts several Russian movie stars, singers and the ex-wife of President Vladimir Putin, Lyudmila, among his clients.
Last November, he presented his spring/summer 2018 collection in Moscow for which he used new textile technology to create materials inspired by the shawls of Pavlovsky Posad, a small town east of Moscow.
The second part of his collection pays homage to the New Look of 1940s Dior, with retro high fashion designs in velvet and silk.
During his career, Zaitsev produced more than 1,000 designs.
“I can dress a whole Red Square parade with my clothes,” he joked.
Asked what fashion advice he would give to the modern woman, the designer said they should “throw their ripped jeans and trainers in the bin” and put on skirts and high heels.


Nora Attal has her day in the sun in Marrakesh

Updated 19 March 2019
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Nora Attal has her day in the sun in Marrakesh

DUBAI: British-Moroccan model Nora Attal posed up a storm in Marrakesh’s golden sunlight for a new campaign by fashion brand Zara.

The in-demand model shared snaps from the campaign, photographed by Christian Macdonald, on her Instagram account.

The collection of photographs show Attal modelling looks from Zara’s laid-back Spring/Summer 2019 collection against a backdrop of rippling sand dunes. Her featured ensembled include kaftans and long-length cardigans with hefty stripes in a clay-and-beige color palette.

Attal is no stranger to fronting campaigns — in January, the model was chosen as one of seven rising stars to feature in British fashion house Alexander McQueen’s latest campaign.

The Spring/Summer 2019 collection photoshoot was shot by British fashion and documentary photographer Jamie Hawkesworth and featured Attal wearing a number of cowboy-inspired looks.

The year has gotten off to a busy start for Attal, who was similarly in demand in 2018, when she took to the catwalk for Elie Saab, Loewe and Dior during Paris Fashion Week in September and starred in Italian fashion label Versace’s summer advert campaign.

In May, luxury e-retailer Farfetch launched in the Middle East with a little help from the young model.

She starred in a photoshoot wearing pieces from collections on sale on the platform. The colorful photographs were accompanied by a snappy, chatty interview with the young model.
Readers got the chance to gain insight into her earliest fashion memories and learn some off-the-cuff facts about the star.

“Recently I’ve been obsessed with noughties trends. Everyone was so cool and effortless back then. Now I go out in a full Juicy Couture tracksuit with no shame,” she told Farfetch at the time.

“If I wasn’t a model, I’d probably be at university, studying to get into something like criminal investigations, profiling or law,” she added.

Attal finished off 2018 by hitting the sand dunes in the UAE — however, this time it wasn’t part of a high-end photoshoot, but rather a day of fun.

The model enjoyed an afternoon of sandboarding in the emirate of Sharjah and even posted a snap on Instagram at the time.

“Apparently sandboarding is a thing,” she captioned the sunset shot.