A Georgian journey at Ulyana Sergeenko Haute Couture

Published January 28, 2015

ABOVE: ALL PHOTOS ULYANA SERGEENKO HAUTE COUTURE SPRING 2015. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE DESIGNER.

The fairytale clothes of Muscovite designer Ulyana Sergeenko have stolen Mother Russia’s heart. Her extravagant depictions of haute couture seem to have sprung to life from the pages of Lermontov’ poems or perhaps direct from a Czarina’s closet. It goes without saying that Sergeenko’s appeal spawned in no small part from her confirmed status as a street style darling; that lithe silhouette so often poured into her own coquettish designs and haute couture commands from the likes of Giambattista Valli, Thom Browne, and previously John Galliano for Christian Dior. She’s fond of fancy headwear too, spotted frequently in Stephen Jones’ delicate bonnets, which also complemented her latest showing. Sergeenko’s personal panache has attracted a bevy of international beauties to her red carpet-ready gowns, with Dita Von Teese, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and Beyoncé all spotted in her bespoke designs both on and off-screen.

As whimsical as they are, however, Sergeenko’s collections are grounded in personal and collective narrative. With her nation suffering in financial crisis, the savvy storyteller opted out of an opulent runway affair to show Spring 2015 by appointment only. That said, her transformation of a suite at the Hotel Bristol into a Georgian salon was no mean feat, right down to the vintage carpets piled with pomegranates and oranges, TVs flickering with the films of Sergei Parajanov, and rails heavy with her embellished garments inspired by the art-house director’s color-drenched surrealism.

Spring’s decadent creations benefited from a new softness—a nuanced approach to Sergeenko’s insistent historical allusions, The densely embroidered bell-shaped skirts and demure shifts in British silk jacquard played a mischievous game between peek-a-boo sexiness and Matryoshka sobriety. A tailored coatdress (emblazoned with pheasants) and a pinstripe suit (worn with satin slippers) played down the haughty glamour of many a tiered or bustled gown, the most complex of which included a column handpicked in ivory and gold silk thread framed by a tasseled satin lampshade skirt.