Crisis spurs designer Simachev to return to Russia

Mon Feb 2, 2009 3:46pm EST
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By Amie Ferris-Rotman

MOSCOW (Reuters Life!) - After a break of several years, Russian fashion designer Denis Simachev returned to the Moscow catwalk at the weekend with a show evoking change and upheaval to support his homeland during the financial crisis.

Models sashayed with rectangular shoulder pads in stonewashed jumpsuits, tight leather mini skirts and red leopard print dresses under masses of big hair for the show, housed in the top floor of a disused weapons factory in the center of Moscow.

Simachev called his fall-winter collection 'Perestroika' -- a nod at Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's new political reforms of the 1980s before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, which many Russians remember as a period of euphoria and huge change.

The Muscovite designer made a veiled comparison between Soviets living during perestroika and present Russians' suffering during the crisis in a handout at the show.

"In reality their possibilities are extremely limited but what comes in short supply will never be an obstacle for the Soviet man," he said.

Against a backdrop of glowing disco balls, crowded paintings and red lighting, speakers blasted out a famous tune by Soviet singer Viktor Tsoi, which asks for change and holds intense emotional attachment for Russians who lived through the turbulent period.

The Russian love affair with luxury, which some homegrown designers say harks back to the time of the Czar and was buoyed by 10 years of growth on the back of high commodities and energy prices, is also beginning to see cracks in the financial crisis.

"We are showing in Moscow as we want to support our industry during the crisis," Simachev's spokesman Vadym Chernyshov said.   Continued...