Ulyana Sergeenko's show started with a bang. It was the sound of an explosive going off. This wasn't going to be another of her Russian fairy tales, the soundtrack suggested, and the first look out—an officer's coat cut from glossy black leather—confirmed that impression. Backstage, Sergeenko and her partner, Frol Burimsky, expressed their dismay at the current situation in Ukraine and the repercussions throughout the region, indicating that it prompted her to think about another time of upheaval in the history of the region: the first twenty-five years of the 20th century, when the czar fell and the USSR emerged.

In the end, the show wasn't as politically charged as all that setup suggests, and it was probably better for it. The officer's coat gave way to a crystal-covered opera coat. A starring role was played by vibrant gradient-knit mohair sweaters inspired by constructivist artist Kazimir Malevich, and Sergeenko's familiar molded bustiers—in satin under bias-cut chiffon, and in leather over silk pajama separates. Amid the many different looks and moods represented on the runway, a nipped-in waist provided a through-line. Naturalistic and nationalist embroideries were another; sheaves of wheat, which appeared on everything from an abbreviated dress to a covered-up jumpsuit, are a symbol of Mother Russia. The collection would've been stronger minus a few outliers—a black leather pinafore minidress and an embroidered strapless bodysuit come to mind. But there were a few beauties here. We liked the make-do spirit of a black velvet hourglass number wrapped at the waist with what could have been a hand-tatted white linen napkin.