Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

With the arrival of Aurora Fashion Week Russia, St. Petersburg’s leading designers take to the runway. Reason and logic are the key words distinguishing this season’s offerings from last.

Published: April 10, 2013 (Issue # 1754)


While attendance at the podium shows is by invitation only, sponsorship by YouTube means that all of the week’s events will be available online. Shown is a collection by Tatyana Parfyonova.

Despite the cold weather, a real thaw will arrive in the hearts of fashion lovers next week as the seventh annual Aurora Fashion Week Russia gets under way. Fashion shows by around 40 designers, as well as special events, are set to take place at different venues around town from April 15 through 21.

The main venue for the podium program this year is the Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts, a monumental 18th-century structure on the Neva River that houses one of the city’s oldest art collections. “Fashion is a symbiosis of classical and modern art, and [this] is the image of St. Petersburg we want to promote,” said Milkhail Bazhenov, chairman of the AFWR organizing committee.

Reason and logic are the key words distinguishing this season’s offerings from last, and all of the designers that will participate in AFWR this year have been selected very carefully.

The program for the seventh iteration of AFWR consists of four parts. Local fashion houses will be represented by some of St. Petersburg’s leading designers, such as Tatyana Parfionova, Tanya Kotegova and Leonid Alexeev, while up-and-coming designers will be represented by Liza Odinokikh and Leonid Titow. Moscow-based Igor Chapurin, whose creations engage Russian clichés and myths, will also present a collection.

Traditionally, AFWR dedicates part of its program to designers from one of the former Soviet republics. This year is no exception, with the Ukrainian brand Andreeva bringing its creations to town.

Of course, foreign designers will also be represented on the catwalk with shows by Gaetano Navarra from Italy and Marques Almeida from Britain, both of whom are taking part in AFWR for the first time.

“It will be a kaleidoscope of different trends and styles,” said Artem Balaev, AFWR’s producer. Organizers are confident that the shows will impress, despite the fact that some designers aren’t making images of their collections available before they are revealed on the runway. Conceptual, avant-garde and youthful collections are all expected to be shown alongside more classic presentations.

All the events on the podium program are available only to invited professionals.

“We try to raise the professional level of our audience so they can influence future designers,” explained Balaev. However, as YouTube is one of the project’s official partners, everyone will have a chance to see both the fashion shows and interviews with the designers online.

In addition to the models swishing down the catwalks, a number of special events have been planned for venues around the city and are all open to the public.

Two exhibitions are set to take place as part of AFWR. Those who are interested in the phenomena of dandyism will be able to indulge their inner fop by visiting “Romancing the Fashion” at the National Library of Russia on Ulitsa Sadovaya.


Inventive shapes and unusual textures make the fashion week one of the city’s most exciting events. Fashion by American designer Thom Browne.

Louis Vuitton, which has a long history of supporting both fine art and fashion, will offer fans of the luxury brand a unique exhibition of photos by Natalia Alaverdian from Harper’s Bazaar at the company’s boutique on Bolshaya Konushennaya Ulitsa.

Those who like their fashion at a steep discount will find plenty to love about the discounts that the city’s leading bookstores are offering on fashion books. Dom Knigi, Bukvoyed and the bookstore at Rosphoto, as well as others, will participate. In addition to coffee table books on famous designers, a line of blank Aurora Fashion Diary notebooks will be available all month at the Dom Knigi and Bukvoyed bookstores for those who need to jot down their impressions of the proceedings.

Another innovation for this year’s edition is the unveiling of the festival’s own line of casual clothes in collaboration with Extra. The fashion line will be available at the city’s Yunost and Chikipiba Room stores.

The educational portion of AFWR is traditionally represented by the Fashionomica conference, which will take place this year on April 19 at the Aurora Nevsky hall. The event offers visitors a chance to meet leading specialists in the fashion business – but as places are limited, reservations are a must.

But perhaps the biggest difference between AFWR and other fashion shows around the world is the way the events have been scheduled.

“The main distinction that sets the festival apart from all the others is that the shows will be held in the evening. This is so that those visiting from abroad have the chance to enjoy a bit of sightseeing as well as allowing time for business meetings,” said Balaev.

Over the past few years, Russian brands have been gaining more and more recognition abroad. Established international fashion magazines like Vogue and Elle, as well as the blogosphere, are all starting to sit up and take notice.

Leonid Alexeev, who has made regular appearances at AFW over the years, will present his latest collection at the Alta Roma fashion week in July. Local brand Homo Consommatus, whose collections are inspired by nature, has already participated in New York Fashion Week after being discovered at AFWR.

According to the organizers, awareness of the city’s fashion week is still not as high among the local audience as it is among Europeans and Americans. And while this may be in large part due to the fact that most of the events are closed to the public, it is hoped that the new program of free educational projects will change that.

The high fashion that is sure to be seen on the streets of the city throughout the week will probably leave a lasting impression as well.

Aurora Fashion Week takes place from April 15-21 at various venues around the city. For further information, visit

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