Yulia Kazakova 2017-09-15
Russian Fashion Embodies Cultural Traditions

In the 21th century

Watching fashion shows bewilders us, with thoughts like “I would never wear it” inundating our minds. Contemporary art is believed to be the most complicated to understand. Contemporary doesn’t mean new – contemporary art and fashion might be based on traditions which existed several centuries ago but were recovered with a fresh look.


‘Fashion Week’ is a well-known worldwide event that gathers the latest tendencies and gives designers an opportunity to present their ideas. Beginning in New York and going through London, Milan and Paris, Fashion Week hosts prominent designers and models.  Moscow Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week took place in March 2015.


However, for Read Square another Fashion show was more intriguing because of its close connection to the Russian culture. At Estet Fashion Week, a new trend was presented – designers used cultural peculiarities in their dresses. Fashion is an unimaginably creative art. Estet Fashion Week illustrated this by using traditional accessorizes and adapting them for use in contemporary lifestyles.


Following traditions is considered a vital part of heading to success in art. “Art is unique because it embodies historical and cultural peculiarities, which are inaccessible to artists from other countries. To my mind, the path to success goes through the uniqueness of living in your own country, through the cultivation of traditions.” — Editor-in-chief of PORT magazine and the Head of the Fashion Department at the HSE in the interview to Read Square.


Estet Fashion Week was dedicated to Russian traditions. Designers who were inspired by Russian history tried to adapt it to contemporary art. Ranging in colors, prints and sizes, traditional Russian clothes offered numerous possibilities for designers to create an absolutely unique style. Revived from a forgotten past, traditional clothing is bound to retain its place as a stylish and timeless fashion.


In the 10th century

To understand contemporary art, familiarity with history is crucial. The traditional Russian image is basically one costume: sarafan, and two accessorizes: kokoshnik and scarves. The word “sarafan” might not be familiar to many, but most people recall how a traditional Russian costume looks. Originally, it had a single piece with thin shoulder straps, worn with a sleeveless vest, a “dushegreyka”, thus creating a desirable shape of two triangles inter-crossing in the middle. Interestingly, the width of the sarafan distinguished not only the wearer’s social status, but also her regional background and even the type of occasion that the sarafan was worn for. Sarafans of striking colors contrasted with white shirts. The most widely worn sarafans were blue linen decorated with rows of buttons. Red sarafans were designed for weddings. Now they are seen as a folk dress highly connected to Russian traditions of past centuries.

Kokoshniks are believed to emphasize not only the Russian history but the way of living. Kokoshniks resemble the head of church that gives us a certain understanding of its meaning. Worn in X-XII centuries, Kokoshniks involved the Russian culture and history.


Russian traditional fashion is incomplete without famed colourful scarves. Reminiscent of the countryside lifestyle, scarves give a certain view on the Russian culture.  In the Russian Empire scarves were used to dress up, to keep warm and even to show one’s social and marital status. Their various embroideries, prints and fabrics served as an indicator of the wearer’s background and place of origin, as those scarves had initially been produced at home, and varied from village to village. Left as archaic, they are now becoming more popular in fashion industry. Used as a headscarf, they add a touch of whimsy to a prim look and is a remedy to a bad-hair day; as a shawl, it is both a stylish and practical alternative to a blazer on a chilly spring night.


Embodied Russian treasuries- sarafans, kokoshniks and scarves- are widely used by Western and Russian fashion and art designers. Using traditional clothes in today’s life gives you a perfect chance to deliver your shrewdness and feeling of style at the same time. Fresh look on cultural traditions broadens horizons in a routine contemporary life.