What strikes you first on entering the Central Exhibition Hall, the venue for this particular fashion week in Moscow – for there are two fashion weeks running at the same time - is just how like New York Fashion Week it is.
Naturally there is a Mercedes-Benz parked in the entrance. A large screen beams up advertising from the sponsors that includes Colgate toothpaste and the Mamaison Hotel group - not by chance, the hotel where ELLE UK is staying for the duration.
Inside the entrance hall, there is a champagne bar that offers the best view to watch those who have come to preen, film-premier-style, in front of the wall emblazoned with ‘Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia’ for the cameras.
Last night, at the Vilshenko show, the crowd was eclectic: one woman wore white mink and diamonds with her electric blue sequinned second-skin mini dress and towering heels, another wore a beanie hat with a bird (made from fur) on her head. Mothers and daughters were in attendance on the front row – some had even brought dad too - along with magazine editors and a few members of the so-called ‘Russian Mafia’, Miroslava Duma and Elena Perminova, two of the most photographed street-style stars on the international fashion scene.
Olga Vilshenko was considered one of the hottest tickets of the week. The designer, who studied at London’s Istituto Marangoni, splits her time between London and Moscow, maintaining a studio in both cities, but this was her first time showing as part of MBFW Russia.
Inspired by the silhouettes of the 1970s and the art of Russian painter Filipp Malyavin, her collection was romantic and contemporary. Long dresses with full sleeves were sometimes frilled at the hem or fell in waterfall ruffles recalling Ossie Clark’s heyday. Some came in fine sparkling lame, others in vibrant poppy prints. She also riffed on the cape – a big autumn / winter 2013 theme – that came in burgundy leather for day or black chiffon, trimmed with marabou feathers for a dramatic after-dark look. The last pieces, printed with heritage Russian tapestries and shimmering in gold, were the ultimate crowd-pleasers.
It was a strong start to what will be an eye-opening fashion week.