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Cycles and Seasons V

Moscow’s alternative fashion and arts festival steps up another level to showcase the underbelly of Russian fashion

Putting the Cycles and Seasons about page through Google Translate gives you many a lofty statement that involves phrases like “the new generation of intellectuals whose interests are concentrated in the area of fashion and art” and that it is an event to “create a context for communication and Co-operate fashion professionals”. The real subtext is that Cycles and Seasons is considered by most Muscovites and obviously by the organisers to be superior to the other two fashion weeks in Moscow.  Its highly curated format which means there are only one or two evening events each day means that they have taken selection seriously. Ivan Makarov, art director of Moscow’s answer to colette, Kuznetsky Most 20 is responsible for said selection which this week saw a small group of designers who are all eager to run as far away as possible from the clichés surrounding Russian fashion that cenres around bling and glitz (Dolce & Gabbana is apparently the number one selling label in Russia). The diversity of venues which included an old chocolate factory, the Central House of Writers, an outdoor icy space and a photography gallery also sought to break free from the champagne-flooded, sponsor-plastered tents favoured by fashion weeks outside of the big four.

You’ll probably recognise Vika Gazinskaya’s face from perusing the streetstyle blogs as her style is frequently documented during fashion weeks but she is a fully-fledged designer in her own right. Obsessed with perfecting lines and silhouettes, her latest collection fell right in line with the current Cristobal Balenciaga revival that we saw in the shows for A/W 11-12. Precise hourglass shapes created by flared out pelmets and full skirts contrasted with pieces such as a green fur-covered hooded coat, together created a new guard of elegance.

There’s no getting away from some derivative elements in some of the collections showcased at Cycles and Seasons, as shades of Rick Owens, Raf Simons and Margiela came shining through in the shows of Sergei Teplov and Bezous. Teplov contrasted monastic-inspired voluminous coats with a 90s techno vibe revealing and covering the body in deconstructed pieces whilst Bezous was more than happy to be a Raf Simons disciple with pieces that could have been mistaken for Simons’ latest collection for Jil Sander.

The star of the week was undoubtedly Nina Donis, a duo consisting of Nina Neretina and Donis Pouppis who have been pounding out collections for ten years but seem to have hit a new stride in the past few seasons with Cycles and Seasons feting and supporting them.  Their latest collection took inspiration from the inner padding of army jackets that turned a protective element into a decorative one, emphasised by a show that was staged outdoors at Strelka and had guests wrapped up in orange blankets. This was a case of repeating a motif so much that you couldn’t help but buy into their padded and quilted pieces that tied up at the seams. When these pieces were rendered in neon orange, white, black and a particularly striking satin floral print as well as incorporating textures of fur, it made for a standout show that was straightforward in its message – protect yourself when faced with outdoor elements and do so with uncompromising strength.