Gosha Rubchinskiy is clearly on top of his game at the moment. He is internationally recognised both as a fashion designer and a photographer, and his admirers stretch from the fashion community to streetwear lovers and skaters. His design career has already ticked a few important boxes: collaborations with Supreme and Vans, the production support of Comme des Garçons and two runway shows in Paris; Rubchinskiy is evolving rapidly but still tries to remain faithful to his original influences — post-Soviet youth and urban subcultures — channelling them in his work for a wider and wider audience. Last week Rubchinskiy had his second runway show in Paris, and the collection was an intriguing mix of references: aggressive and cute, witty and naive, trashy and beautiful. We've assembled some of the inspirations for his show as an insight into Rubchinskiy's always surprising creative process.
The main theme of the collection is SPORT spelled on prints and logos in Russian and Chinese. There is a decent amount of sportswear — trousers tucked into socks, ever-present tracksuit pants and sweatshirts — but these come mixed with garments like jeans and even fur coats. Rubchinskiy explores the links between Russia and China: their similar historical cults of sport and the body; their shared pathways and ongoing geopolitical rivalry.
Rubchinskiy has always looked to the rough Russian streets for inspiration and this year is no exception. In his Paris show, he picked up on the look of the Nazbols, young radical members of the National Bolsheviks, an illegal political party founded in the 1990s. Without endorsing the kids’ extremist views, Rubchinskiy channelled the energy of their provocative demonstrations and macho sporty football fan culture.
The complete opposite to the politicised Nazbols, the Paninaro youth scene in Eighties Italy was purely consumer-oriented. The Paninari, who took their name from the Panino cafe in Milan, liked to dress up and look good, shared a passionate devotion to brands and would mix high fashion pieces with more casual streetwear. Their signature puffy jacket look still lingers on in Italian streetwear today. With the inclusion of a pastiche Tommy Hilfiger logo and mullet hairstyles on his models, Rubchinskiy paid homage to the movement.
The Paris show took place in a Protestant church filled with the smell of burning incense. It’s not the first time Rubchinskiy has turned to religious symbols and locations: one of his first shows (Fall/Winter 2009) was staged in a Russian Orthodox church converted into a sports hall in Soviet times. The blend of youthful physical beauty, sports, Soviet relics and spiritual imagery has always interested Rubchinskiy. Churches are present throughout his lookbooks and photographic works. The fact that this time the church was Protestant not Orthodox is perhaps a sign that Rubchinskiy is reaching out to find references beyond his national background.