New Old Money: That was the first impression of the audience at Valentin Yudashkin's show this season. This is old in the post-Soviet sense—so not very old at all, really—the first generation of people to make money in the nineties after the collapse of the Communist empire. And perhaps this was on the designer's mind, since his show notes said that his interest in "contemporary art—the cutting-edge art of the nineties—was the starting point which inspired me to create this spring-summer collection." Of course, the art market has become saturated by such new old money; it's a plaything and social pastime for some Russian high-society clients.
How appropriate then that Yudashkin's first look was almost "Tom Wolfe" in feel: a white trouser suit and white fedora worn on a female model. Was the designer reading The Painted Word or The Bonfire of the Vanities or maybe both? They uncannily applied, at his show. Shortly after was a navy variation, worn with a navy bow tie—a perverse take on the traditional male preppy look. The navy, gold-buttoned blazer with a crown crest was emphasized in hourglass form, and the trousers were tailored to within an inch of their lives. Besides being a nice play on the masculine/feminine theme, this was the best suit of the collection. It would have been great if the designer had carried on in the vein of this look—like a hyper-sexualized Thom Browne. Unfortunately he didn't, and the mood dissipated too soon.
Yudashkin has a thriving wedding dress business, judging by the amount of long white looks that were included in this show, but it left the collection feeling like it had lost its focus. The designer can cut clothes and he has an extravagant and detailed eye for embroidery, but how his view really translates outside of Russia and into an international climate is difficult to see at this point. It was quite telling that the next generation of high-society Russians, the offspring of the oligarchs, who have been brought up with this more international view, were conspicuous by their absence at today's show. Too busy being photographed by street-style photographers and actually buying contemporary art, no doubt.