You’re one of a cohort of Russian street-style stars. Why do you think Russians are the It girls on the blogs right now?
Eh, we’re the new thing. You know how fashion is—there’s always got to be a new look, a new idea, a new story. For a moment, street-style blogs were the new thing; now they have to look for a new thing. So today it’s Russians.
Do you think there’s a distinctively Russian sense of style?
I think Russia is still figuring out its style. Look at the history—we had cultural stagnation for like, 75 years. And in the Soviet Union, it really was, you had to wait outside in the cold to buy toilet paper. That scene in Moscow on the Hudson, that was a real thing. So in the 1990s, when we discovered oil, and this sheik era of Russia began, of course everyone wanted to buy the most expensive things. And they wanted to show off. I was a kid when this was going on, but I remember a rich woman saying to me, Listen, if you want to buy Versace, you make sure you buy something with a big logo, because otherwise, it’s a waste of money. Even later, at the beginning of the 2000s, I can remember going to into bars in Moscow and seeing at least five girls wearing the same Dolce & Gabbana logo jeans.
Now, Russians are more educated about fashion, and people with money, they want something unique. Unique and discreet. A couture suit, maybe. If it’s one of a kind, they’ll spend for that. And also now, there are different ways to be stylish. I mean, there’s always a woman in Russia who, you know, she’s got a rich husband who doesn’t know about fashion but who buys all her clothes, and he wants her to look sexy. And there are these girls, and some of them look really great, I must say, who are the daughters of very rich men, and they buy whole looks from Céline or Proenza. They want to look super-cool. And there are also the fashion professionals, who travel for work, and who know the little vintage places in Paris or London, and they mix and match a lot of things.
Do you like getting photographed for street-style blogs? I feel like it would stress me out. I mean, how much time do you spend putting together your fashion week outfits?
Donna Karan said if it takes you more than 20 minutes to get dressed, then you’ve got a problem. I live by that. I won’t spend a lot of time planning my outfits, even at fashion week. But I don’t have to—I mean, my talent in life is, I have a good imagination to put together an outfit. I’m not the most beautiful girl, I don’t write poems, I don’t make music, I’m not the best tennis player, but I can create a look, you know?
Has the attention changed the way you dress?
Yeah…Sometimes I’ll do a crazy outfit I know fashion people will appreciate, but then I look at myself and think, wow, if my husband saw me now, he’d say, are you OK? In my normal life, I mostly wear, like, jeans. Simple things.
Do you own everything you wear that gets shot for the blogs?
I probably shouldn’t say this, but a lot of my clothes are borrowed. I’m sure people look at me and think, Pfff, this girl, she’s just a silly girl with a credit card with no limit. But that’s not true! Maybe no designer will loan to me now…I mean, isn’t the whole point that girls think I bought the dress from so-and-so, so they go out and buy that dress?
So I went to look at your Web site, Buro 24/7, but it’s in Russian. Looks good, but what is it?
Buro is a news site that provides quality information on fashion, art, architecture, culture, books, social life. Basically it’s a source that keeps you posted on everything interesting that happens in the world—the kind of stuff you can talk about with people you don’t really know, after you’ve talked about the weather.
Any plans to expand outside of Russia?
We already have! We recently launched, by license, a European edition based in Croatia, and we’re planning to open a London office very soon and start an English edition. Plus there’s a Middle East version I already have partners for, and we hope to do an Asian version of Buro, and so on.
I mean this kindly: You really don’t look like the mastermind of an international media empire. Like, you’re very cute.
Speaking of cute Russian girls out to change the world…
Are you going to ask me about Pussy Riot?
Well, they’ve really become a cause célèbre in the West. But I have a sneaking suspicion that opinions are different inside Russia. What’s your take?
My opinion is that these are very stupid girls. OK, so they have problems with the president—no president is perfect. But what did they change? Who did they help? How did they improve the situation in Russia? All they did was start an argument. And offend and humiliate people who believe in God. That’s it. I do a lot of charity work, there are many orphans in Russia who need help, so it’s not like all I see is rich people and fashion. I know there are things in this country that could be better. But this…Ugh. You know, people who say, oh, Pussy Riot is so great—I feel like, they don’t know what’s happening in Russia, they don’t know how Russians think, what they’ve experienced. I’d love to ask some of these people, who love Pussy Riot, if they can tell me anything else—any single thing—about the political situation in Russia today. I’d be very surprised if many people took the time to find out more about what’s happening. These girls aren’t even in jail! It’s not even—how do you call it?—house arrest.
So I guess you’ve got some opinions about this whole thing.
Everyone in Russia has an opinion. [Sighs.] Look, I love America. Everyone’s so kind and positive. They don’t know what it’s like in Russia—I mean, this is a silly example, but if you look at comments on street-style blogs, in Russia it’s all ugly. There’s a lot of envy. But in the States, you know, there’s some of that but there’s also people making compliments. You never get a compliment in Russia. So you have to understand with these girls, these stupid girls, that what they did was triple the negativity.
Anything you’re particularly looking forward to for Fashion’s Night Out? Are you a big Tesla Boy fan?
I just like that there’s this event to celebrate shopping. Sometimes I feel, men really are lucky—they’re strong, they don’t get pregnant, they can sleep with many women, and no one cares—but women, they have fashion. We have this pleasure, to go shopping and play with beautiful clothes, and no one ever takes it seriously but it’s important, you know? Russia, for more than 70 years, we didn’t get to shop. We didn’t have fashion. So maybe we appreciate this idea more than most people.