Russia's appetite for fashion re-emerges in Paris

Tue Oct 6, 2009 2:00pm EDT
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By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Russian fashionistas lapping up Paris fashion week say that a recovery at home has made them hopeful that the world's fourth largest luxury buyer may be regaining ground after a hard hit from the financial crisis.

From models to designers to buyers, the mood is optimistic among the Russian fashion pack, who have descended on the French capital for one of the most glamorous weeks of the year -- when designers show off their creations on the catwalk.

"People are no longer thinking that everything is bad ... People want new ideas, new fashion, new money, everything new -- everything good and positive," said Daniil Gorbachenko, creative director of Moscow's prestigious department store Tsum.

There is "more buying," he told Reuters.

Russia's passion for fashion -- from home-grown designers to its hunger for luxury abroad -- took a severe hit as the financial crisis took its toll, forcing sales to plummet and boutiques to board up their windows.

Stores for designers Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney closed down less than 18 months after their openings in Moscow. The glitzy Russian capital, known for its love of excess, buys more than 80 percent of Russia's designer goods.

Analysts predicted this year's profits would be slashed by around a third in Russia's luxury clothes and accessories industry, estimated between $4.5 billion and $9 billion.

"I think Russians still want their luxury and women with their love of fashion sustain that," said one Russian buyer, who only gave her first name Katya. Like others buyers filling the front rows, she declined to talk about sales.   Continued...

<p>Models present creations by Russian designer Alena Akhmadullina as part of her Spring/Summer 2010 women's collection during Paris Fashion Week October 6, 2009. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes</p>