In her series of photos entitled Relics, Moscow-born photographer Lily Idov explores how artefacts and ephemera from the past are viewed by each passing age. The series collects more than 50 photographs taken over the past year at some of Moscow’s lesser known museums (the Museum of Electrification, the Museum of Darwin, the Railway Museum, the Museum of Water Supply). Idov, who was formally based in New York and has shot for magazines including Vogue and GQ, considers how an object in a glass box somehow acquires the status of an artwork even if it’s nothing more than a mannequin, a rock or a stuffed animal. Most of the museums in the photographs were opened in the late 19th century and have remained frozen in time despite the changes in politics and ideology that has swept over Russia since then.
When they weren’t partying backstage, the US band was busy exploring Moscow, stopping off at the Red Square, a Nicolas Jaar gig at nightclub Gipsy, the Strelka Institute for media, architecture and design, and the Hermitage Garden.
I wrote a feature on my favourite fashion brand of today’s Moscow, Walk Of Shame by Andrey Artyomov who tells the story of fun and its consequences in the language of irresistibly seductive design.
Models wear buttoned white denim skirts with silver crop tops, silk pyjamas, transparent dresses with transparent bombers, and light white coats. Their skin is covered with bruises and fake tattoos: last night, it seems, was fun. It’s the Walk of Shame Spring / Summer 2014 catwalk show, tonight's destination for fashion-obsessed and fun-loving Muscovites. Designer Andrey Artyomov once again tells his favourite story of beautiful indulgence and its consequences. “I had the idea of bruises from the very start," he says. "It was bruises and love bites from sex, and then I added tattoos.”
When I call Andrey Artyomov of Walk of Shame to organise a visit to his studio in Moscow he refuses. “It’s not about me as a designer,” he says. “We have a story which we want to tell. It’s about girls and parties.” The story definitely involves both the hedonism of today’s Moscow and the designer’s vision of contemporary, edgy Russian glamour.
He finally agrees to meet on the terrace of Oldich Dress and Drink, a bar, restaurant and vintage store in one. He’s wearing a black T-shirt, dark jeans and a blue denim jacket that matches the colour of his eyes. He has dark brown curly hair and makes a good first impression: friendly, and easy-going but with a quiet confidence most likely gained from years of dealing with the chaos of fashion shoots.
Artyomov is a former stylist who started Walk of Shame in 2010. He now sells his collections at a range of high-end department stores and boutiques in Moscow and in 11 cities across Russia. Starting from this season, his clothing can also be found at Opening Ceremony’s boutiques in Tokyo, New York and London. That’s not even counting his numerous fans around the world who place orders via Facebook, Tumblr or Instagram.
The 32-year-old has come to be known for collections that capture Moscow’s consumerist, excessive side; a city driven by ambition and fuelled by easy money. His clothes are for young women who like to have fun and enjoy the finer things in life, who can afford his silk bomber jackets, floating dresses, fur coats and velvet slippers. “Moscow is a fun city that’s young at heart and has lots of money,” says Artyomov. “In Moscow, there is no division between youth and money. It’s a city where people still drink champagne for breakfast. It’s weird, it’s borderline, it’s crazy, I love it.”
What started as a bit of fun among friends — “My friend created the logo,” says Artyomov. “At that point my life was one big walk of shame” — soon extended beyond the borders of the Russian capital. For Artyomov, Walk of Shame is a universal story about “Bruises on knees, yesterday’s hair and yesterday’s make-up. It’s about fun and its consequences told in the language of irresistibly seductive design.”
Walk of Shame is representative of a new type of Russian fashion label — small, independent and homegrown. It’s one of several brands to have grown out of the capital’s fashion scene, which has undergone dramatic change in the last few years. It’s no longer about loud catwalk shows and fashion weeks sponsored by big brands but about young designers investing their own money and a new generation of consumers both at home and abroad. “With the expansion of the internet, the mechanisms of fashion marketing have changed,” says Artyomov. “It’s the era of Facebook likes. People are interested not only in brands which are very famous and expensive or popular and cheap. People are looking for something new.”
My article about the amazing photographer Ekaterina Bazhenova. Still can’t forget my morning visit to her studio in Battersea.
Ekaterina Bazhenova is no stranger to bold statements. Throughout her work, the fashion photographer and videographer has eschewed the banal imagery associated with commercial fashion in favour of a personal story that uses the language of art. In a video for British fashion magazine Pop, she positions the camera behind the model’s left shoulder. The model is dressed in a yellow coat — the “high yellow” of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers —and is filmed up-close against a cornflower blue table. We watch the model as she peels two lemons before taking a sip of water from a glass, which she then slams down on the table. We never see her face and we only ever see part of the coat. For Bazhenova, both model and clothing are only ever just one element of her overall vision.
Having moved to London from Moscow in 2006, Bazhenova has worked for a raft of fashion magazines that, in addition to Pop, includes Husk and Tourist, all known for their innovative photography. Her works have a distinct feel to them: minimal and monochrome; distant, almost cold, but also sensual. Through her work, she channels photographer Helmut Newton, who once said that the perfect fashion photograph looks more like a still from a film or a portrait. Beautiful on the surface, her images portray a deeper sense of alienation. “I think I’m a bit obsessed with beauty itself in a wrong way,” she says. “I believe that beauty is a bitch and it’s never perfect. It’s the opposite of perfection.” Presented in a special edit for The Calvert Journal, this is Bazhenova in her own words and pictures.