A giant book of fairy tales was propped open at the end of Ulyana Sergeenko’s Yellow Brick Road-like runway, and the well-worn original tome, featuring illustrations by Yuri Vasnetsov, circulated the front row. Inside its weathered pages, alligators opened their jaws to spilling breadbaskets and mice crawled gleefully over a caged cat.
The Russian designer’s second couture show recounted equally strange stories while brimming with charm and, occasionally, a sense of wonderment. A soundtrack of spaghetti Westerns and snippets of “Rocky” and “The Wizard of Oz” accompanied her parade of pioneer women in bustle dresses, apron-topped skirts and damsel-in-distress off-the-shoulder blouses.
The ricochet between American and Soviet references was united by Sergeenko’s obsession with a nipped waist, showy fabrics and skirts that were either narrow and hobbling or broad enough to sweep the floor.
Straw corsets and rompers with built-in peplums topped many looks, or winked out from underneath a sinuous chiffon column. As costume-y as the show was — one model toted a bindle, another had a slingshot tucked into her trousers — Sergeenko’s clothes were beautifully made with some dazzling techniques. Among the rabbits she pulled out of her hat were tasseled, vaguely Mexican shawls bearing homespun needlepoint embroideries. She whirled them into artfully sexy evening gowns.