Oct 25th, 2017, 02:00 PM

Russia vs France: Style Battle

By Polina Chaikina
Image Credit: Shutterstock
The polar opposition between the French and Russian fashionistas.

Russia and France, two great countries which today, show a huge difference in their economies, in their style, and their way of life. Both of these countries started many revolutions, and the revolution in fashion isn't an exception. Even if Russia is well advanced in fashion now, during several centuries the whole world aspired to achieve the level of French values. Everybody really has something to learn from the French, as to what to adopt, use and correct in our own style of life and wardrobe. To compare the styles of Russian and French fashionistas, I’ve interviewed Fillip Fissen, a fashion designer, producer of the Monte-Carlo Fashion Fair and an observer of the “DC magazine”.

The first feature which gives away a Russian fashionista is elegance. One of the main difference between a Russian and a French woman is that a Russian fashionista will attempt to replicate outfits from glossy magazines and the red carpet, as well as try to demonstrate their wealthiness. As observed by Fillip, “The style of fashionable Russian women really differs from the concept of following new trends, without much analyzing or bringing in their own interpretations. Items of clothing, that lost their timeliness, don’t stop existing for them. The frequent changes of their outfits and accessories is a demonstration of sophistication and wealth.”

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It hasn't been that long since Russian women got the opportunity to buy beautiful and stylish clothing and they are certainly not missing out on the opportunity. The western magazines and luxury brand boutiques appeared in Russia only in the mid 90’s, and the advertisements on many billboards and magazines don't make it easier to resist the temptation of buying everything Russian fashionistas see, which creates another difference between them and French girls. In Fillips professional opinion, “The style of Russian women greatly differs from the French. French women greatly appreciate authenticity, while Russian fashionistas strive for perfection, not only in clothing but in taking care of their appearance in general (epilation, salon treatments, cosmetic surgery etc.). Russians might not pay as much attention to colour coordination in outfits, however, they always make sure to achieve perfection in their look, complementing it with the authority of a luxury brand.” So what goes on in a wardrobe of a French fashionista?

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I think any Russian woman would be surprised with the size of a French woman’s wardrobe, because they are quite modest in quantity, however, all of the clothing items are guaranteed to be of high quality as well as completely corresponding to the specific lifestyle of the owner of the outfits. French fashionistas will never buy a one-time-use item of clothing. They are likely to wear their clothes over and over, and discard them only when the clothing item has lost it’s initial look or is out of fashion. In my interview, when I asked Fillip as to which style he personally prefers as a designer, he answered, “As a fashion designer, I prefer the style of the French women which is harmonious and balanced. However, as a man, I do prefer the Italian style which always incorporates a tan, accessories, is vibrant, detailed and sexy.”

It is crucial to note that a French woman is great at composing perfect ensembles for any event in her life; she buys only the clothing items that will fit in with a certain look that she’s pre-planned in her vision. If we think about how long various items have a place to live in her wardrobe it would look like this: coats and jackets would last about three years, business suits and dresses for two. Evening gowns for special events could last a very long time while shoes usually stay there for about two or three years. However, French women could invest in a bag for a long-term usage, it has to be of a high quality and preferably of a well-known brand. In their opinion, a good bag equals a good investment. When I asked what direction the Russian fashion is moving in, the fashion designer commented, “The Russian style is, unfortunately, moving towards incorporating more comfort in outwear. Heels and extravagant combinations give way to simple comfort and cosines, which still come from brand names such as Tom Ford and Brunello Cucinelli.”.

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One thing that you will never find in a French wardrobe, but that is rather common among Russian fashion lovers are fakes of expensive brands (les contrefaçons). Unfortunately, this really undermines the style of Russian girls.  In France, there are strict rules and regulations to battle the market of fake brands, as there is a copyright law.  It is prohibited to sell them within the country, and if you walk into a boutique, for instance, such as Hermes, with a fake bag of the same brand, you probably will have to give it up and maybe even pay a fee. In Russia, there is also a high risk of buying a fake brand bag, even in a multi-brand store, for the same price as a real one.

Of course, nothing lasts forever, so what do French fashionistas renew regularly? Firstly, every summer they have a new holiday wardrobe. They always know that the newer trends in fashion would be interpreted in brands such as Zara, H&M, Top Shop, Massimo Dutti. They perfectly understand that spending a lot of money on fashion doesn't mean that you’ll be fashionable. Once they build a base wardrobe of high-quality clothing they will feel free to add some inexpensive, extravagant details to the looks through accessories. Russian women, in contrary, prefer to buy many items of clothing, and it would've been better if they adopted the mentality of the French women; buying less but of high quality and reserved style.

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As a final question, I asked Fillip, whether Paris dictates and influences the fashion in Russia. His comment was, “Paris dictates the fashion worldwide, and Russia is not an exception. There is a group of women who are always interested in minimalism suggested by the “Antwerp Six” and “Comme des Garcons” collections—usually, those are women in the age of “everlasting 55.” In Saint-Petersburg, for instance, the style is leaning towards that concept. I think that is connected directly to this group of women. They are such clients that are ready to spend a large amount of money and are quite fond of designs in this style while paying attention to all details of this movement.”