After five seasons on the haute couture runway, Ulyana Sergeenko presented her new collection in a salon at Le Bristol hotel today. The optics of the situation weren’t so hot: Untrained Russian ingenue makes a big, expensive splash complete with an endorsement from model Natalia Vodianova, only to be forced to downsize a couple of years later.
Sergeenko likes to reference specific eras of Russian history. She’s an ambassador not just for her country but also for its traditions, employing upward of 100 people whose handwork is often native to the region. This season, she explained, she chose Russian neighbors Georgia and Armenia as points of departure. True to form, the embellishments were exquisite, and at times mind-numbingly minute. Crisscross stripes on a pale blue dress weren’t printed but embroidered with narrow bands of tulle hand-stitched in place, ironed, and accented at the intersections with tiny crystals. In some cases the fabric of a garment itself was embroidered all over. Why make tiny white stitches by the thousand when selecting a piece of white silk might do? Why not?