Russia's Fashion It Girls, Plus How The Publishing Industry Has Limited the Country's Stylish Influence

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Sochi may have put Russia back on the cultural map for some, but those infatuated with anything sartorial have been well aware of the country's influence for quite some time. From designers to models and more than a dash of aesthetic influence, Russia is a fashion force to be reckoned with, everywhere, it seems, except the country itself. Refinery29 and The Business of Fashion have each delved into Russia's current cultural and political state through the lens of the country's fashion community, and the picture is a complicated one.

You may not be aware of how much Russia contributes to the modern fashion scene, but dissect the season's top trends, or a street style blog's most beguiling models, and you'll find Russia. Fall 2014's fairytale trend was greatly informed by a richly patterned Russian poneva, and of course the trend was sported by a host of Russian models on the runway. Natasha Poly, Natalia Vodianova, and Sasha Pivovarova are merely a handful of the Eurasian country's chic spokeswomen, often joined in fashionable form by the likes of Ulyana Sergeenko and Anya Ziourova.

With all of Russia's artistic contributions to the fashion industry, one would assume that the country itself is a sea of dashingly dressed citizens, but reporter Valerie Stivers discovered, on behalf of Refinery29, that the situation isn't quite so simple. Stivers attended Russia's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in October, and the journalist found her experience to be vastly different from her first experience nine years before.

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Stivers reports that in addition to government criticism of internationally-informed style via widely read publications, the government has also cracked down on Russia's editions of informative fashion magazines such as Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, instituting a new decree which necessitates Russian command of each instead of the previous ownership by individuals who reside in other countries.

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As if the government's vice grip on the publishing industry weren't enough, one of Stivers' sources declares that even sporting innovative, international getups on the street can incite acts of violence by local gangsters. Paired with the country's currently dire financial state and conflict with Ukraine, Russia appears to be an impediment-strewn place for budding fashion influencers. According to both Stivers and indeed the roster of New York Fashion Week contributors, Russian creative tours de force are now shifting their gaze to other international destinations like the United States. Designers from former Saint Laurent student Alexander Terekhov to David Koma of Mugler are taking over prime seats in Fashion Week's lineup with their elegant and imaginative visions of style.

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It appears that if Russia continues to bear down on visionary fashion enterprises, other hubs of design and culture may reap the benefits. To read more about Russia's fashion It girls, head over to Refinery29.

Images: Getty Images