Designer Focus: Slava Zaitsev- The star designer of Fashion Week Russia
Slava Zaitsev cultivated an interest in fashion design only after graduating, with honors, at the Faculty of Applied Arts at the University of Chemistry and Technology.
In 1956 he moved to Moscow in order to further fulfill his dream of textile design. Four years later, he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in painting and design from the Moscow Textile Institute.
The talented Russian designer got a chance to fulfill his passion and prove his skills in 1963, when he was asked to design a chic uniform for kolkhoz workers. However, his colorful design was frowned upon by the Methodical Council and was not approved for mass production. However, his designs made their way to the West through a publication called Paris Match, and Slava Zaitsev gained imminent popularity.
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In 1965, Zaitsev became the chief designer at Dom Modeli. That same year, prominent designers including Pierre Cardin, Guy Laroche, and Marc Bohan (Dior) took a trip to Moscow to witness its elite fashion first-hand. Zaitsev’s innovative designs drew their attention and he instantly became an “equal among equals” according to Cardin. Zaitsev was then constantly compared to haute-couture designers from around the world such as Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent, and Christian Dior.
Throughout his long career, Slava Zaitsev had lots of achievements, including designing a collection of costumes for the Soviet team when they competed in the Mosow Olympic Games in 1980 and designing Raisa Gorbachova’s outfit for an interview with The New York Times. Once photos from the interview came out, Zaitsev was regarded as one of the hottest and most popular international designers. In 1986, Zaitsev was granted permission to visit a capitalist country for the first time. He voyaged to Canada, where he showcased his design in the 1986 Expo.
In 1989, Zaitsev crossed another boundary, when he showed his collections in West Germany, with a theme of “Fashion and Music Revue ’90”. By the end of the year, Zaitsev beat out other elite fashion designers, such as Donna Karan, and gained the title of “Five Top Fashion Designers in the World.”
Though his name has become synonymous with elite and luxurious fashion around the world, Zaitsev is not interested in showing his creations abroad. He prefers staying true to his Russian roots and in inspiring young Russian designers to create unique and new fashions, rather than to be solely influenced by Western trends. Although Coco Chanel, Hubert de Givenchy, and Gianfranco Ferre are his fashion idols, when it comes to his own creations, Zaitsev would rather pay an homage to traditional Russian and Slavic motifs.