Vika Gazinskaya is without a doubt a whimsical designer. But her whimsy sometimes betrays a subversive streak, as it did this season. The most impression-making pieces in Gazinskaya's new collection were her "fur" stoles, stuffed-animal-like scarves that looked like fox, raccoon, etc. They were witty, and a little silly, those stoles, and you could say much the same of Gazinskaya's mannish overcoat in curly Steiff-teddy-bear fur, and her Flintstones-worthy orange faux-fur vest, with its little detachable fox tail in back. But as Gazinskaya explained, her intent was a serious one: This was her whimsical way of commenting on the everywhere-ness of fur these days, as well as the offer of an alternative. The fact that the most meaningful critique of fashion's fur obsession has come from a Russian rather beggars belief. But then, Gazinskaya is a hard character to pin down.
The faux-fur elements in this collection were prominent but hardly defining. Gazinskaya continued to elaborate her interest in exaggerated silhouettes, notably in stiff skirts with zigzag hems that were almost cartoonishly A-line. Elsewhere, she magnified details, extending the length of sleeves, or placing a spine of emphatic bows on the back of a blouse. Cleverly, she also embroidered rather naive-looking oversize jewelry onto her collars. All told, there was a feeling of things being just ever-so-slightly out of proportion here, in an interesting fun-house-mirror way. But Gazinskaya's strongest pieces had the tang of normality. To wit, the standout item in this collection may have been her not-quite-culottes, voluminous cropped pants that sat high on the waist. Bicolored trousers with a similar cut were nearly as good, and among Gazinskaya's coats, a simple single-button model, in white faux fur or fuzzy gray wool, was the definite best. All told, this collection suggested that although it may sometimes seem that Vika Gazinskaya has her head in the stars, the plain fact is that she's got her eyes wide open and her feet on the ground.