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Ulyana Sergeenko

Last season, conscious of her country’s economic crash, Russian socialite-turned-couturier Ulyana Sergeenko showed her Spring 2015 collection in a hotel suite. This season, the designer put on her show at the Mona Bismarck American Center. Ever the storyteller, Sergeenko featured on her invitation a water-color of a lone woman standing in a dark salon, head in her hands, as if having realized that the chandelier lights would be dim for years to come. If that wasn’t enough of a depressing thought, the show notes took this notion further; not only was the party over for our heroine, but now she also had to share a Soviet communal apartment with individuals from “all walks of life—peasants, sailors, students.” Could life get any worse?

Well, it did. Our heroine then had to dress and her humble surroundings forced her to adapt to new shapes, colors, and decorations. Enter an awkward hobble dress with lampshade hem and three-quarter length dustball-tackled skirt, or that sheer number featuring colored accents on the bust, which had us picturing her rolling around on the floor picking up any last remaining confetti from the last party of the century.

Happily, the boudoir looks—slinky wrap dresses and chic pajama corsets—have become something of a Sergeenko signature and served as an elegant contrast to the zany shapes and furs, which were oversized and heavy. In fact, the sweetheart necklines and embroidered robes with soft pleats were quite stunning and feminine. As for the accessories: ice cream cone and pompom ballerina clutches came across as childish and lacked the tongue-in-cheek witty references that Sergeenko is capable of.

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