By  on October 30, 2007

MOSCOW — Alexander Shumsky is explaining that even though there are, technically, two competing fashion weeks here, really there's only one. That would be Russian Fashion Week. The "so-called competition," Fashion Week in Moscow, is for wannabes.

"They pick up all the designers we refuse," claimed Shumsky, whose public relations firm, Artefact, runs Russian Fashion Week, or RFW. "Their business is to sell space. They're selling space for a trade show."

Dmitry Goryachkin, managing director in Russia at IMG, which produces Fashion Week in Moscow, or FWM, is equally dismissive of Shumsky's operation.

"We try to bring world-class sponsors like Visa and Volvo," Goryachkin said. "We run New York. We run Los Angeles. We do London. We do India. The only thing I know is the guy who is president of the other event, he used to be p.r. director of this event and there was some kind of conflict and they split, and Mr. Shumsky decided to form his own event. I don't really care."

With October being the unofficial month of the pakaz modi (fashion show) — RFW spanned Oct. 14 to 21 and was followed, three days later, by FWM — the battle for the fashion week mantle has raged across the city. There were advertisements on billboards and banners on Tverskaya Ulitsa and Pokrovka, parties, press conferences and plenty of snipes and counter-snipes in local glossies.

What's incontrovertible is that in a town hardly teeming with designers, there's no need for two fashion weeks. "There aren't even enough for one," said Natalia Turovnikova, a representative for Kopenhagen Fur in Russia, who formerly reported on the Moscow fashion scene for television and magazines here.

Elena Vassa, one of Russia's best-known designers and the head of a nationwide chain of boutiques bearing her name, agreed with Turovnikova. "There are two competing teams, and they are trying to split the market," said Vassa, who was once allied with RFW but has since distanced herself from it. "If they were thinking about the future of Moscow, they would unite, but they don't care about Moscow's image."

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