I don’t normally recommend crashing parties, really I don’t.  But you can make some amazing discoveries when you do.  This week, I was invited to a reception honoring the wonderful William Calvert at the clasically beautiful National Arts Club, as he was given their Innovator Award.

Next door, something strange and mysterious was going on.  I caught a glimpse of incredible gold jewels in cases on the walls, and stunningly opulent clothes hanging on mannequins.  Well, who could resist?

It turns out it was a celebration of the debut of Slava Zaitsev’s Winter collection.  Never heard of him?  Look him up.  Zaitsev is described as Russia’s version of Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Dior and Valentino rolled into one.  And when you see his looks, you’ll know that’s no exaggeration.

His bold and beautiful designs and intricate patterns are reminiscent of the art and architecture of his homeland, think “Dr. Zhivago” reborn in the 21st Century.  He’s famous for his combinations of textures and deep, rich colors:  burgundy and gold, red and lavender.  The bright embellishments add to the beauty of each perfectly finished piece.

When I was busted, I was treated to the opportunity to speak with the designer.  Through a translator, he described his inspiration as, “the Russian culture, and old Russian traditions”.  They were apparent in every design.

The presentation was sponsored by the Russian-American Foundation, created to promote Russian culture and heritage here, and American culture there.  Zaitsev has been dressing everyone from Russia’s First Ladies to sports stars and celebrities there for 30 years. It’s about time his kind of culture reached our shores.

Photography: Anton Brookes

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