Gosha Rubchinskiy called us to a YMCA building for his S/S 16. We were sat in a sunken basket ball court, surrounded by peeling blue paint and haphazard bits of sports equipment. Nearby, some metallic fringing hung sadly from the wall, left from some recent party. What stories that building could tell - states of epic shots, lost games, broken bonds, teenage kisses, youthful love. Those are the same stories Rubchinskiy tells, bringing the teens of his native Moscow onto the runway and opening up their hearts and minds for all to see. Russia was even more present in today’s presentation than usual - underneath a neon nylon zip-up track jacket, faint red hammer and sickles peeked through from the print on the t-shirt underneath. Later, a model emerged carrying these same emblems of the Soviet flag in his hands and around his face. He looked, at first glance like a teen on the way to a fancy dress party - half in makeshift costume, half in his own everyday gear. But that’s quite an apt feel for Rubchinskiy who merges Russian tradition and the histories of his land, however painful, with the dreams and realities of his peers - past and future dance a strange tango on his runways. Some pieces look like they could have been pulled straight from Soviet thrift stores, though had been furnished with just enough branding to make them relevant to a new generation - see the knitted jumpers with eighties patterns and archive workout year that could would have been perfect for the 1984 Summer Olympics. Fact fans will remember that those games in LA were actually boycotted by many Eastern Bloc countries, led by the Soviet Union, in response the to US-led boycott of the Moscow 1980 Summer Olympics.
1984 conjures other memories and references. Rubchinskiy had plastered the date all over t-shirts. You could read it as a little more than a nod to his birth date, or you could reflect on the more sinister undertones of that year. The references to manipulation, control, ‘through crime’ and cult of personality - all interesting, relevant concepts in fashion. There’s getting to be quite the cult that follows Rubchinskiy, and his own slogans and logos are employed with the same vigour as the propaganda of Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev and co. The history of his native land is rich enough that Rubchinskiy will have plenty of material to go on playing with, clashing the emblems and ideas of old with the desires and styles of today’s young idealists. His clothes are rich because of these stories.
When his models appeared from backstage, they walked along the viewers rails above us, before descending the stairs to the runway - we had to look up, admire and wait. How apt - Rubchinskiy clothes merit consideration, they demand that you reflect and ponder. Unlike a lot in fashion at the moment, they’re worth waiting for.