Moscow is too big for one fashion week. Having visited three different editions over several seasons, my expectations were preset to “panache of the nouveau riche.” Gaudy glamour gowns, gold-glitter-baubles, luxury lingerie, and so much bridal couture you’d wonder if women counted towards the natural resources exports data. All of that, wrapped in fur! With a Russian signature touch of mystery and madness, such as Russian Army Design Bureau showcase. As in, actual Russian Army, design bureau, showcase. Welcome to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Moscow! That said, I was on the lookout for anything contrarian, a dissident vision, or just something different. Meet Lena Tsokalenko. Praise be unto her.
At first glance, the critical eye of the beholder could label it minimalism at its best or potato-sack couture at its worst. But that’s at first glance, because I guarantee you’ll look again. And again. There is more than simplicity at work here. English-language version of Tsokalenko website promises “the spectator will always find sensible verbosity, harmonious multi-detailing and sonorous melody” in her style. As an openly bilingual man, I can attest that something IS lost in translation here. Luckily, clothes speak for themselves and the story they tell reminds me of a famous Michelangelo bit. When asked how a sculptor works, he claimed the task was easy: just chip away the excess from the piece already within the stone. Pathos be gone, I don’t see a questionable cut, pleat or detail (higher res images). Tsokalenko creates are anti-glamour statements that uphold the right of a body to confide itself in a garment without being packaged by it for resale.
P.S. Somehow, this collection reminded me (aurally) of the musical textures in Lykke Li’s “No Rest For The Wicked”. Check it out. For more variations on minimalism visit my Copenhagen Fashion Week review, too!
Also from Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia/Moscow… Meet the darker-than-thou Pirosmani men!