Since today marks the final day of Russian Fashion Week’s 18th season, I would like to pay tribute to Russia’s most honored designer, Vyacheslav Zaitsev.

Better known as Slava, Vyacheslav opened the event on March 28th, dedicating his a/w 2009 collection to the 100th anniversary of the Ballets Russes (‘the Russian Ballets’)—an itinerant ballet company that performed under director Sergey Dyagilev between 1909-1929.

With composers like Stravinsky and dancers like Tamara Kasarvina and Serge Lifar, the Ballets Russes conquered Paris and revolutionized the art of performative dance.

Slava Zaitsev was born on 2 March 1938 in the city of Ivanovo—traditionally called the textile capital of Russia, which was founded in 1561 as a flax-processing village. His father, however, was labeled a traitor to the Motherland and disappeared in a camp under one of Stalin’s waves of repression.

Zaitsev, thus, was denied every opportunity and right to a higher education until 1952 when he was permitted to enter the Faculty of Applied Arts at the University of Chemistry and Technology in Ivanovo.

Although recognized abroad as the “Red Dior,” Slava was not always lauded by the Soviet authorities as he directed the production of women’s wear for retail stores in Moscow and the surrounding areas.

But his perseverance finally overcame all opposition in 1982 when he launched Dom Modi Vycheslav Zaitsev, the first couturier in the Soviet Union that the government permitted to own a personal label!

As poet, writer, artist, and stylist, Slava Zaitsev refused to relinquish his passion, designing his way up to perestroika and through glasnost, and now he is recognized as the most distinguished designer of Russia.

Vycheslav Zaitsev has truly lived up to the meaning of his name—Slava—the Russian word for ‘glory’!

Photo upper left Tamara Kasarvina and Serge Lifar, Public Domain Wikipedia.
Bottom photo by Slava Zaitsev Moscow Fashion House, GFDL Copyleft Wikipedia.

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