17 May 2010

Kazansky Station Gets Gaultier Fashion Show

The Moscow Times

Across the road from the red carpet that was laid for a fashion show featuring Jean Paul Gaultier, two men negotiated a price with a prostitute.

“Can I touch?” one man asked the thin blonde outside the Komsomolskaya metro station. “Not before you’ve paid,” she replied firmly.

Haute couture swept into Kazansky Station for a few hours Friday night. Celebrities and would-be art buyers watched a retrospective of Gaultier’s work in the station’s VIP area, alongside the usual chaos that is Komsomolskaya Ploshchad — dirty, addled homeless people sleeping or crouching on the street, aggressive taxi drivers, and market stalls that sell shoes for 600 rubles ($20) a pair.

Speaking a day before the show, the designer said it had been his dream to stage a show in a train station — he has long wanted to do one in Gare de Lyon’s famous belle epoque Train Bleu restaurant — and he jumped at the chance when offered the Kazansky show, which opened the Chereshnevy Les arts festival.

“A train station is a symbol of traveling, and my collections are always a kind of travel,” Gaultier said.

It is doubtful that he knew of Komsomolskaya Ploshchad’s dubious reputation, however, as he said he had only seen photos of the interior of Kazansky Station — a cathedral-like space designed by Alexei Shchusev, the architect who designed Lenin’s mausoleum, with murals of planes and dirigibles on the ceiling — but he had not been to the station itself.

Russia is a mix of “romanticism and madness,” he said — and nothing could better describe a night that saw leggy models sauntering down in Mexican-themed costumes and clothes inspired by the film “Avatar” as adoring Moscow fashionistas sweated profusely. Fans without seats clambered onto palm trees scattered around the hall to catch sight of the show. 

“Russia is open to the world,” Gaultier said earlier in the week, adding that he was impressed with how young Russians dress. “I have the impression that now the rest of Europe is like an old sputnik.”

Gaultier, who last came to Moscow five years ago, met with clients at his boutique on Ulitsa Petrovka on Saturday.

Almost as colorfully dressed as the models on the catwalk, although much shorter, were a group of Roma women and children, who, on seeing Andrei Bartenev, the artist and designer famed for his outlandish costumes, rushed toward him excitedly upon his arrival. Bartenev at first attempted to run — not easy with his chunky shoes — but sensing a photo op, posed briefly as they snapped him on a mobile phone.

Bartenev could later be seen in the front row of the show, blocking the view of whomever was behind him.

“It’s a mockery,” said Ilya, a freelance designer who goes through the square every day on his commute, pointing to where the panhandlers normally stand as the crowd jostled to get into the show. “This is where all the migrants come. That underpass is where everyone goes to the toilet. It’s a mockery.”

Still, many of those without a ticket crowded around the red carpet to catch a glimpse of celebrities.

“Why not? We have a beautiful train station,” said Lyudmila, a train station worker. “Was the hall OK? It’s very hot. Everyone left as if coming from a steam room, like a banya.”

“I am wearing Jean Paul Gaultier,” said singer Filip Kirkorov, the only pop star as tall as the models on the stage, pointing to the orange net vest under his orange jacket. “It has holes — if you didn’t wear Gaultier, you were hot.”

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