MOSCOW — Some designers confine themselves to established fashion capitals — Milan, Paris, New York and London. Not Kansas-native-turned-Los-Angelino Jeremy Scott.
On Saturday night, he kicked off Russian Fashion Week, a nine-day affair showcasing mostly Slavic designers held in tents across the street from Gorky Park in downtown Moscow. It wasn’t his first show off the beaten fashion track: In 2000, he participated in Iceland’s maiden fashion week and earlier this year, he staged a mini-retrospective of his work in Japan.
“I was flattered to be asked,” the corn-rowed Scott said prior to showing to a Moscow audience the spring-summer 2005 collection he’d recently debuted in Bryant Park. “It’s the first time that they have tents, so it’s a historic event for them that I can appreciate.”
The director of Russian Fashion Week, Alexander Shumsky, said he picked Scott because, in a city notorious for its fashionista devotion to loud labels like Versace and Chanel, he wanted to stress fashion design over commercial branding.
“I don’t see Russian Fashion Week as a festival for the public to come see established brands they’re already familiar with. For us, it’s important to create an atmosphere that’s about real fashion,” Shumsky said. “A lot of people in Moscow had heard of Jeremy Scott and were waiting to see his clothes up close.”
A standing-room-only crowd of print and TV fashion editors, pop stars, bankers, retailers and auto executives turned up for Scott’s Audi-sponsored show.
“Both the Icelanders and the Russians were so excited about my coming to show and so enthusiastic that I couldn’t say no,” Scott said. “If I can lend myself to help legitimize or give credibility to their fashion weeks, so much the better.”
It was Scott’s second trip to Moscow. Besides his show, he visited St. Basil’s Cathedral, with its madly painted cupolas, on Red Square; popped into the G.U.M. department store and trolled second-hand stores looking for old Soviet kitsch and T-shirts with Cyrillic writing.
Accompanying Scott and on her first trip to Moscow was Arianne Philipps, Madonna’s stylist. Philipps, whose ancestors emigrated to American from Odessa in neighboring Ukraine, came to style Scott’s show and to do reconnaissance on Russian street fashion.
“Russia is a new fashion frontier. You get this feeling of creativity and self-expression bubbling up,” Philipps said as she watched Moscow designer Frol Romanoff’s parade of models in vinyl jackets embossed with retro advertising. “Forget capitalism. What’s exciting for me is the idea that after all those years of Communism, young Russians are all about creativity and self-expression.”
Russians, however, are not about to forget capitalism. Russian Fashion Week, says the event’s organizer Shumsky, “provides visiting designers with a gateway to the Russian market.” Jeremy Scott, whose biggest retail market is Japan, may not be offering his designs to Moscow retailers just yet. But, according to Shumsky, after Milan-based men’s wear designer Neil Barrett showed here earlier this year, his Moscow sales rose fourfold.