Russian designers play it simple in uncertain economy

Sat Oct 22, 2011 9:06am EDT
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By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Simplicity will be the watchword for Russia's fashionistas next season, driven by designers' narrowing budgets and a lack of good fabric in the country.

At the launch of Russia's Fashion Week, which gathered together Moscow's wealthy elite, designers complained about the lack of financing for an industry that has been squeezed by a flood of clothes from the West.

Bright pink and yellow 80s-style checked and polka-dotted linen suits opened Fashion Week on Friday night in the spring-summer collection of Slava Zaitsev, a 73-year-old Soviet captain of couture, who often dresses the wives of Russian leaders.

"Where is Russian fashion going this season? It's getting closer to the people. I made a simple collection, with linen being its central theme," Zaitsev told Reuters after the show.

"Russia is a country of linen," Zaitsev said.

"(Fabric) is a big problem in Russia now, most material, such as silk and wool, comes from Italy," he said.

Dressmakers are also disappearing in Russia because of the domination of western fashion and a faltering economy, Zaitsev said. He said his fashion house was suffering from declining sales and that many of his peers had closed down.

Expecting consumers to spend less on clothes, Zaitsev emphasized accessories, including colorful jewelry, umbrellas and hats.   Continued...