Antiquity-Inspired Style Blooms at Tsarskoye Selo

Antiquity-Inspired Style Blooms at Tsarskoye Selo

Published: June 22, 2012 (Issue # 1714)


Lilia Kisselenko’s collection had an Olympic twist with models sporting longbows, balls and ribbons as props on the catwalk.

Nymphs, fauns, archers, gymnasts, cavalry maidens and decadent classical beauties riding in open carriages abounded in the alleys, galleries and even fountains of the Tsarskoye Selo former imperial estate’s Catherine Park on Saturday, June 16 as six premier St. Petersburg fashion designers indulged in a game called “Playing at Antiquity.”

The event was part of the annual Association project, which was being held for the fourth time this year. Every year, the show celebrates an epoch or style in art — as seen through fashion — and is put together by the finest fashion talent from Russia’s cultural capital. The theme is proposed to interested designers by the management of Tsarskoye Selo, the host of the beautiful event. Previous events were dedicated to baroque, art nouveau and military styles.

“As the Catherine Park was stylistically conceived as a Greco-Roman rhapsody, so to say, we felt it would be fair to make antiquity this year’s subject,” said Olga Taratynova, director of the Tsarskoye Selo palace and park ensemble.


Tatyana Parfyonova’s designs were inspired by the story of a cavalry maiden.

Six designers — Tatyana Parfyonova, Tatyana Kotegova, Lilia Kisselenko, Ianis Chamalidy, Stas Lopatkin and Yelena Badmayeva — created collections especially for the occasion and presented them in an original, performance-style manner, with the helping hand of St. Petersburg director Viktor Kramer.

“Initially I was a bit suspicious of this enterprise, as I thought that fashion designers were probably totally conservative about the way in which they present their collections,” Kramer admitted. “What I have learned is that these designers thrive on the spirit of adventure just as much as stage directors do. My job was really to push the designer to do an unorthodox twist, a departure from what they would normally do.”

Each show was presented three times on Saturday. All park visitors were given a list of venues and a schedule upon entrance, which cost 200 rubles ($6) — double the standard price — that day.


Designer Tatyana Kotegova’s models rode in open carriages while artist Kirill Miller played music in the background.

A nymph served as designer Stas Lopatkin’s muse for his collection “Insomnia.” The designer sent both forest and water nymphs dancing gracefully across the grass and around the fountain. With their flowing silhouettes, floral patterns, sophisticated ornate jewelry and languid sensual movements that looked as if they had been borrowed from Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes seasons in France, Lopatkin’s models appeared as crucial and natural to the historic park as the sculptures that grace its alleys. The models’ hairstyle bore a tangible reverence to Gustav Klimt — an artist from a very different era — and this note fit beautifully into the context of ancient mythology.

Lilia Kisselenko celebrated the Olympic spirit of antiquity in her show, which took place in the estate’s Cameron Gallery. The promenade featured athletic-looking models dressed in stunning black and white silks — ascetic and laconic, yet dizzyingly feminine — and incorporated balls, ribbons and longbows into the presentation. This was a show in which the genre of the performance respected the theme of antiquity as much as the designs themselves.

Ianis Chamalidy built a bridge between the worlds of pagan antiquity and monotheistic Christianity. His collection, entitled “Bird in a Cage,” offered a journey into a person’s soul, exploring the gods and demons that abound there. The catwalk in the Cameron Gallery had a breezy, somewhat chilly spirit — only natural for such a journey — showcasing a curious spirituality that contrasts courage and escapism. Silks, chiffon and organza reigned over the designs that showcased Chamalidy’s signature sensual draping. The models’ heads, wrapped in nets, hinted at restraint and came across as both firm and tender.


Stas Lopatkin focused on the flow and movement of the garments for his collection.

A true highlight was a divine grayish green stormy-sea-colored dress with a silhouette that resembled a pillar of salt or a high, frozen wave.

“When designers create haute couture collections, they feel like they are soaring — there is no need to weigh, calculate and count the pros, cons and market demands, and whether or not the collection will sell, as we have to with prêt-a-porter,” Chamalidy said. “In my collection, I sought to explore the issue of freedom that the human soul is constantly seeking and the physical limitations that the body creates for it.”

Tatyana Parfyonova chose a playful take on the subject, with her “Russian Empire” show being inspired by the story of famous Russian cavalry maiden Nadezhda Durova, the country’s first-ever female officer and 1812 Napoleonic War heroine. Flat-soled, knee-high leather boots contrasted with cheerful cotton sarafans (traditional long Russian pinafores) and transparent silk tunics, embroidered with stitched satin swans, mermaids and bees. The eight designs artfully captured the essence of the Russian Empire style, while the performance served as a beautiful fashion portrait of Durova as a heroine, whose character is a fusion of girlish romanticism, rebel spirit and panache.


The theme of this year’s annual Association project was ‘Playing at Antiquity.’

Designer Yelena Badmayeva, who presented a collection of pastel-colored square silk scarves with imperial patterns, dressed her models in modest white cottons that emphasized the fine elegance of the scarves. The collection was created for Tsarskoye Selo’s 300th anniversary in 2010, and was presented for the first time to the general public on Saturday.

Tatyana Kotegova arranged for her seven models to ride in open carriages and dance in the fields while artist Kirill Miller played a vintage red barrel organ. Kotegova’s rusted brown silk maxi dresses had streaming lines, and were complemented by bright blue and green scarves that flowed in the wind.

“I feel that antiquity can easily be applied to modern fashion, and it was a delight for me to work on the collection,” the designer said.

The finale saw all models parade across the front of the Cameron Gallery for a feast of styles and colors.

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