The Russians Aren’t Coming…
Europe France Paris the Russians
BSSB.BE nytimes.com 04.02.2015
Russians, front row: Elena Perminova, center; the fashion writer Miroslava Duma, right, and the designer Ulyana Sergeenko, far right, at the Giambattista Valli show in September in Paris. They were joined by, from left, Coco Rocha and Rachel Zoe. Credit Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
PARIS — It was not long ago that the Russians mobbed fashion week. They bought dresses, and houses like Giambattista Valli, Jean Paul Gaultier and Chanel were lining up to land them as clients.
In the last year, that is gone, kaput. The Russian buyers are not in the front row. The czarinas have mostly gone missing at couture this week (replaced, in part, by Chinese pop and film stars who are trailed by an army of paparazzi from back home).
“The politics in Russia between countries is not the best for this time,” said Elena Perminova, a Russian front-row stalwart, from the lobby of the Palais de Tokyo, outside the Armani Privé show on Tuesday. “That’s a big reason.”
The other significant problem? The titanic collapse of the ruble, which has lost more than 40 percent of its value in the last year.
“It’s very upsetting,” said Frol Burimskiy, a partner in Ulyana Sergeenko’s fashion label. “It’s quite hard to plan your year. We have to see where the rates are. We had to change planning many times.”
Ms. Sergeenko has been showing her spring 2015 collection at private presentations. Credit Ulyana Sergeenko Ms. Sergeenko has been one of the biggest faces of the Russian fashion invasion. She married the Russian billionaire Danil Khachaturov, became a street style star and then began a haute couture line. This season, she is showing by appointment only.
Mr. Burimskiy said the economy had an impact on buyers. “The Russian presence will be less,” he said. “People have to get back to life and be more serious about spending.” He said the reason Ms. Sergeenko held a presentation — albeit in a suite at Le Bristol Paris, a five-star hotel that is among the most expensive in the French capital — was not related to the Russian economy, but instead a desire to offer clients the intimacy of a private viewing.
“It’s a little bit of a different budget, and it’s a little bit smaller,” he said. “Take into account how much all the currencies are changing and what the ruble has become. It was a different decision but it was great timing, a happy decision.”
The front-row machine goes on. At the Chanel show on Tuesday, Dylan Penn sat front row while her mother, Robin Wright, went to Armani, holding hands with her boyfriend, Ben Foster. And at the Armani show, there were a pair of silver foxes from Germany in matching dove gray outfits. “We’re probably some of the best private customers,” said Thomas Pötzsch, who runs a shipping company. In the last year, he said, he has spent more than 100,000 euros, or about $112,900, at Armani for himself and his wife.
They stood, beaming, just a few feet from Ms. Perminova.
“It’s really expensive for us to buy something new,” said Ms. Perminova, who is married to the media baron Alexander Lebedev. “When I buy something, I’m thinking. And others, like rich people? They’re thinking about it.”
A version of this article appears in print on February 1, 2015, on page ST4 of the New York edition with the headline: A Week to Bedazzle and Bedevil.
By JOHN KOBLIN