Atmosphere: Inside a former bank building on the far end of Rue Cambon, Ulyana Sergeenko created a replica of a train — perhaps the Trans-Siberian Express — complete with windows that lit up, imitating the passing of station lights.
For her fourth collection, Sergeenko abandoned much of the overwrought costume-like approach seen in her first few outings, such as the fairy tale dresses and carved wooden shoes at her “Gone With the Wind”-themed show last year.
The Clothes: Sergeenko loves a narrative theme, and this time her heroine travelled via locomotive across the vast plains and mountain ranges of Russia, mingling along the way with noblemen, artists and thugs, much like Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The mood of the clothes changed the further she got into her journey — things started with a stark white satin ball gown and moved on to a strapless hand-painted dress, drawing upon the traditional fashions of Khazakhstan, Turkemistan and Uzbekistan. An Asian model wearing a black satin embroidered tuxedo might have signaled the train’s exit from Russia.
The Takeaway: While there was a narrative here, Sergeenko exercised restraint over her tendency to get carried away — one that often gets in the way of the clothes. It was nice to see her concentrate more on what was coming down the runway, rather than the story behind it, putting forth captivating garments that potential clients could easily digest. Going forward, it’s key that she maintains this balance, which, in way, is one that all designers must grapple with. For what is fashion without some kind of storytelling?
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