As a form of applied art, fashion has always represented the social and political circumstances of the time and place of its creation. And while big, famed for their fashion sense nations such as France and Italy have been growing increasingly predictable and uninnovative with their designs during the last decade, Eastern European designers seem to be the next big thing in fashion.
Taking inspiration from 90’s Russian street fashion and Slavic folk embroidery, many Eastern European designers have successfully crossed over from underground, alternative artists into fashion powerhouses with hundreds of stores across the world, spreads in reputable fashion magazines such as Vogue and many celebrities carrying their designs.
Originally a photographer, Gosha Rubchinskiy eventually became one of the best known Eastern European fashion designers ever. Taking inspiration from the Russian punk and skate culture as well as from the 90’s fashion, Gosha created a brand that resonated with young men all over the world. Organizing his fashion shows in unusual places such as a gym that was once an Ortodox church or at a skate park further emphasized the rebellious, youthful spirit of his brand.
His most frequently represented archetype, a tough street boy with a soft heart was developed in detail through his book Crimea/Kids and film Transfigurations, as well as the history of religion and various social movements in Soviet Union and in the years following its dissolution. Due to his unique fashion sense, Rubchinskiy, a graduate of Moscow College of Technology and Design, has gained a cult following with his designs being worn by the likes of Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian.
With customers such as Kate Middleton, better known as Duchess of Cambridge, Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, Keira Knightley and Cate Blanchett, it’s safe to say Serbian designer Roksanda Ilincic has made it as one of the biggest Eastern European fashion exports ever. A graduate of University of Arts Belgrade, Ilincic presented her first collection in London Fashion Week 2005., and became an instant star due to her bold use of color in design and modern, yet feminine pieces. Award winner at British Elle Style Awards and British Fashion Awards, Belgrade native Roksanda was named Business Woman of the Year by Harper’s Bazaar UK.
When interviewed about her work Roksanda said, “Fashion doesn’t stand on its own. You cannot create something that’s just for a museum – it’s about living in it. It’s important to understand the time and culture you live and combine that in your work together with emotion and personal beliefs. It’s different when you design from your own experience.” Based from her own personal style and classical taste for clothes she developed during her youth in Belgrade, Ilincic said her designs were made for strong, but very feminine women. Today, her clothes can be found in hundreds of luxury wear stores worldwide and are exhibited at Design Museum London and the biggest British museum of decorative arts and design, Victoria and Albert Museum.
Founded in 1930s by Slovak businessman Jan Nehera, Nehera is a company that paved the way for giants of fashion, such as Chanel, Dior and Hermes. With his innovative vision on manufacturing and production, Jan Nehera owned over 130 luxury fashion stores in three continents known for exquisite quality of textile and fabrics. Majorly built on homegrown Slovak and Czech talent, Nehera brand was restarted in 2014.
Showcased in Paris National Library and old industrial buildings on the outskirts of Paris, Nehera clothes clearly speak of Slovak textile mastery with a plethora of meticulously indigo dyed fabrics and hand sewn details. Self described as pure, linear, natural and above all else, Slovak, Nehera has overcome 80 years of inactivity after shutting down in 1945. due to Jan Nehera’s arrest by the Nazi forces, and eventual emigration to Morocco. However, Nehera has came out victorious and is considered to be one of the most intriguing fashion brands to emerge from Eastern Europe, both due to its present day excellence and one of a kind brand history.
Once a personal tailor to Raisa Gorbacheva, wife of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Yudashkin attracted global interest with his dramatic and feminine gowns. Often considered a pioneer of contemporary Russian luxury womenswear, Yudashkin graduated from Moscow Industrial Technical School as the best student of generation. However, his big breakthrough came in 1991., after he presented his Faberge collection at Paris Fashion Week. Pieces from this collection have gone on to become cult items in fashion and can today be seen in Louvre. Starting out as an apprentice in the atelier of famed Soviet designer Slava Zaitsev, often called Russian Christian Dior, Yudashkin developed a taste for theatricality and drama in fashion. “I used to design for theater and for the movies; for pop culture artists and singers. Fashion came after that.”
In 2010., Yudashkin has been trusted with an honorable assignment of redesigning Russian military uniforms, as well as creating a custom made costume for Lyudmila Putina, former wife of Vladimir Putin, for the occasion of meeting Elizabeth II. Except for annual fashion shows in Paris, Yudashkin’s clothes can be seen at State Historical Museum in Moscow, Louvre in Paris and California Fashion Museum.
Featured in prestigious fashion publications such as Vogue Italia, Vogue UK, L’Officiel and Harper’s Bazaar, Anton Belinskiy has consistently been named as one of the up and coming Eastern European fashion stars. A graduate of Taras Shevchenko Republic Art School in Kiev, Belinskiy launched his first womenswear collection in 2008. at Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days. However, his big break came in 2014., after a preview of his collection was presented on London Fashion Week. Belinskiy’s signature mixture of unusual fabrics, textures and patterns immediately caught attention of Western designers and publications, and he’s been going strong ever since.
Belinskiy has gone on to successfully style numerous high profile models, celebrities and fashion professionals both in Ukraine and in the West. Chosen as a finalist for the prestigious LVMH prize, Vogue wrote of Belinskiy, “One of the attractions of Belinskiy and his work is that his love for his country is genuine: He can take all of his nation’s kitschy post-Soviet offerings and make them entertaining, beautiful even.”