Ulyana Sergeenko, from Russia with passion
An inventive storyteller, Ulyana Sergeenko knows that the unexpected is mandatory in order to engage the public.With her new collection, having already explored far-flung visions of exoticism and flamboyancy, Sergeenko makes a sudden about-turn and brings her spirited heroine – an idiosyncratic character with an ever-lasting weakness for the purest expressions of beauty and craft – into a domestic environment. A Soviet Communal Apartment, to be precise: one of those eclectic households that kept appearing in Leningrad and allover Russia after the 1917 Revolution. Taking away spacious houses from wealthy citizens, and forcing them to co-habit with other families and individuals from all walks of life – students, peasants to sailors – the Bolsheviks created a bizarre form of shared living.
The Ulyana Sergeenko woman lives in such an eclectic space, finding a new modesty in shapes, colors, decorations. Waking up from a dream of her past, she keeps remembering the cultured liveliness that pervaded the house, in particular the fun of New Year’s Eve, which even in Soviet time kept being a moment of pure evasion. The collection fluidly explores angles and places of the Communal Apartment, turning atmospheres into suggestions. Sergeenko’s signature womanly silhouette becomes vertical and light, waist still nipped. The Salute lamp is interpreted in the form of a sculpted dress, or it is recreated in a painstaking melange of Yelets lace, while Christmas decors and confetti are scattered on light dresses like tokens of a lovely party.
The shape of a ball recurs: as a surreal punctuation in the form of fur pompons on coats and dresses, in large geranium textile flowers. Decadent nightgowns with a Visconti flair suggest a stroll in the winter garden, while precious porcelains taken from a well-kept Chiffonier are the base of a Vologda lace dress. A Communal Apartment did not exclude a touch of drama and glamour, which in the collection is a Boudoir feast of lace, silk, high bodices, wrap dresses, loose-fitting lines and soft corsets. Pleating, intarsia, crystal, sequins add preciousness. Accessories provide further narrative depth to this composite story, mixing the surreal with the childish, the glamorous with the domestic. Bags shaped in the form of a ballerina or an ice-cream exude a light, naive charm, while the pumps and thigh-high boots with fur pompons, created with Christian Louboutin, have a seductive boudoir scent. The spell of the winter garden is trapped in a transparent clutch with hand embroidered flowers and lace curtains. Shimmering New Year’s decorations morph into metalized handbags, while embellished sunglasses recall the bright stage makeup of legendary Soviet film actresses.Net hats, created by Stephen Jones, have a decadent feel. Baby mink bonnets, also created by Jones, add the aura of a sweet childhood memory to a story that’s captivating in its eclecticism. Mixing nostalgia with a flair for beauty, Sergeenko finds a new tone in her expression: soft and intimate, light yet intensely personal.