paris fashion week: valentin yudashkin

(images via vogue)

gah. so this one is rather eternally frustrating. try as we here on opt might to keep things interesting even as we’re in the throes of the mainstream fashion events, featuring some of the up-and-coming designers, plus those we’ve also encountered from elsewhere during our travels through the fashion world, as i’ve time and again chronicled, the rest of the media isn’t really up to the task, and we’re left largely alone when faced with those designers they just don’t find as sparkly and exciting.

it leaves me wondering, as ever, for all their professed acceptance of newness, as to when exactly that comes in, but i think we already know the answer (when marc jacobs presents a new vuitton collection, or when a fresh-faced blonde-and-blue 16-year-old–and this season it’s german model esther heesh–steps onto the runway). but designers like valentin yudashkin and his a/w 2013 collection that doesn’t necessarily fit into the prescribed parisian aesthetic with its definitive moscow flavour? yeeeah…not so much.

and yes, i’m very proud of the fact that we here at opt have been loving him some seasons now, both in russia (see s/s 2011, a/w 2011, a/w 2012, s/s 2013), and at paris fashion week, and while i’m usually loath to praise designers for splitting with their home events and trotting them out on a more famous stage, i’m nevertheless pleased that here we’re getting the opportunity to see a collection so distinguished from what everyone else was doing for the upcoming winter. i mean, yeah, we’ve seen fur, but take a look at those furry boots!

seriously, we’ve not seen anything like that since that (ahem, i’m sorry but) goddawful d&g a/w 2010 display in milan (pairing snow boots with a sweater onesie! who knew?), but fortunately for all of us, that’s not what mr. yudashkin is about, and his collection focused more on that traditional russian winter wonderland fairy tale aesthetic, with gowns crafted to appear as though they’d been constructed entirely of crystals and ice (some, like elsa sylvan’s a-line strapless number that appeared to be composed of sparking shards, reminded me of dutch designer iris van herpen’s similarly textural s/s 2013 work).

there were swooping evening gowns aplenty, as well, and many little references to russia, whether it be in the kokoshniks (something some of our favourite russian designers, from konstantin gayday to st. bessarion to kute like to offer) many of the models sported, to the little snowball puffs of earring, to the sweet little fur muffs, but then, before you get overwhelmed and feel it’s too costume-y, i’d also like to assure you that thanks to lots of beautiful tailored separates (shirts, trousers, jackets, and even some of the coats–though i’d agree the furs aren’t for everyone) could work anywhere, and they really shouldn’t be overshadowed (though they likely will be) by those more flamboyant pieces.

alas, so anyway, on the critics’ times front, we were lucky enough to get a few responses, because there are always a couple of kids who can drag themselves out, no matter how difficult that notion might actually be (oh, sigh), and so (hold your breath!), here we go: according to style, “because the Russian designer experiences this cold firsthand, it allowed him to interpret it in a myriad of ways: spirit, look, fabric, llama-hair stiletto boots…The white earring puffs resembled snowballs. Cutouts on a leather dress evoked paper snowflakes. You might get a chill just looking at the silver shards shooting forth from the shoulders of the final evening gown.”

“While that gown was the most ornamented look of the collection,” they prattled on, “the rest was hardly restrained. There were at least three different furs on one fit-and-flare coat, and the lapels of a well-cut suit had been elongated like sharp icicles. It helped that Yudashkin restricted himself to an icy palette, never venturing beyond sand or winter sky. In fact, the strongest moments of the collection occurred when he turned cold into cool. All the mini party frocks, whether bejeweled or covered in a metallic cubist brocade, felt more relevant when topped with a slouchy men’s blazer or shaggy llama cape.”

and surprisingly, even the iht‘s suzy menkes joined the party, offering that “(i)ce, frost and snow as symbols of Russian folklore were the inspiration for Valentin Yudashkin. The pearly finishes and glacial surfaces added a glistening presence to midwinter clothes — as befits a Moscow-based designer. In the avalanche of ideas were jackets with lacy collars, chevron-pattern furs with matching earrings and muffs, and crystal icicle embellishment on glittering dresses.”

finally, though, it was now fashion week the most thorough review, relating how “(w)hile some of his fellow designers on the ready-to-wear schedule seemed to have forgotten that an autumn-winter wardrobe rarely includes feather-light materials and eye-popping, summery colors, Yudashkin proved that he understands the seasons well.   Snowflakes, the leading elements of his new collection, were declined on silhouettes and on couture-ish gowns and dresses, they appeared on shiny crystal tiaras, reminiscent of the decorative Russian Kokoshnik  head-pieces.”

“This said, even if the Yudashkin…woman,” they carried on, “was a somewhat over-the-top Ice Queen, the designer’s technical take on the snowflake motive, made his silhouettes highly interesting: as glittery embroideries on boxy coat dresses, short and flattering shifts or floor-sweeping gowns adorned with Swarovskis; they were interpreted as magnified devorées on a baby blue, vinyl dress, or shaped the silvery contours of a slender, ivory tube dress.
”

(watch the full fashion show video here)

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