Eye on the Runway: Ulyana Sergeenko Couture Spring 2013

For Ulyana Sergeenko‘s second collection, the Russian street-style darling-turned-rookie couturier shifted her narrative from the baroque heights of the Russian Empire to the Wild West, recasting her haute babushka heroine with a crinoline-clad Gibson girl. Her histrionic vision of the American West — complete with exaggerated ballroom skirts, bustles, breathless corsetry, and enough fringe to deck the halls of a boarder-town bordello — walks the line between fashion, costume, and farce.

Sergeenko cited a bonanza of cultural inspirations — “Gone With the Wind,” the Headless Horseman, Huck Finn — and she delivered a postmodern pastiche of southern debs, saloon girls, and silent-film starlets. Sergeenko’s signature silhouette — an off-the-shoulder peasant blouse cinched into a voluminous hoop skirt — is a luxurious take on a look lifted from pulp romance.
She is most successful when she stays in realm of high romanticism: the long skirts, wet-look bias-cut gowns, and gossamer peasant blouses feel relevant, even wearable, today. Less successful are goofy anachronisms like a floor-length cape over a nude satin onesie, or the flight of teeny-tiny frothy frocks that can’t decide whether they’re dresses or tunics. Sergeenko’s pageantry isn’t for fashion purists — and, at times she is vulnerable to accusations of undiscerning and unserious showmanship  — but she nevertheless realizes the full extent of the full-blown, unchained fantasy that fashion offers.

–Chloe Wyma

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Images: Ulyana Sergeenko Couture Spring 2013/Marcus Tondo/InDigitalteam/GoRunway