Ulyana Sergeenko Couture Report: Spinning Yarns

21 January 2014 by

Ulyana Sergeenko took her audence on an imaginary train journey around the Southern Republics of the former Soviet Union for her collection: through Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, she said. Certainly the colour juxtapositions - midnight blue and ruby, emerald green and dusty rose, powder pink and crimson - were suggestive of exotic climes.

With her hair gently waved and pout perfectly painted, the woman on this runway was imbued with an old-school glamour that suits the designer's loyal client base well. As always dressed to impress, many of them took pride of place front row.

This season the  silhouette went from long and lean - Ulyana was also thinking of Leon Bakst where this was concerned - to overblown - skirts like giant puffballs. Contrasts between the masculine and the feminine, the East and the West were in evidence too. Gowns with a cinched waist and corsetted top gathered volume and were then draped to fall off the shoulders. They were worn over sharply tailored trousers, Cossack style. Homespun fringing, quilting and embroideries embellished oversized heavy silk overcoats and Twenties-line slips.

As well as opulence, romance was clearly in the air. The designer's heroine was travelling far and wide in search of her lover: two men's wear looks drove that message home. 'Yes, she's looking for her man,' Ulyana confirmed.

Yesterday, fresh from her front row seat at the Dior show, Ulyana treated Grazia to an exclusive preview of this collection in her tiny showroom in central Paris. Carpet bags, she explained, had been lovingly over-painted in rich shades, bustiers were rippled to mimic the surface of bread baked for the designer by her grandmother when she was a child. What looked, from a distance, like a striped pyjama print, meanwhile, was in fact ribbons of fabric painstakingly stitched together entirely by hand.

'And look at the jewellery,' Ulyana said, proudly holding up sweet gilded bird cage earrings and then two rings intended to be worn as a pair. Each featured a single golden love bird. 'You see, when you put them like this, they're kissing,' said the woman behind their design, demonstrating just that as she slipped them onto her own fair fingers.

It was the model Natalia Vodianova who originally persuaded Ulyana to bring her collection to Paris and this time, as always, it was shipped from Russia where it was made using any number of newly prized traditional techniques. That coupled with the autobiographical references used by this designer made it, above all, an intensely personal offering.

'It's my story,' the designer concluded happily. 'Who can tell it better than I can.'


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