Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The World is on Fire, Let's Go Shopping

I have been absent -- mostly due to things like family illnesses and my mother's death, and associated travel and mute heartbreak. I won't even talk about the current political events because there is no talking there but only screaming. And yet: no matter what is going on, those of us who continue living carry on with the mundane stuff. We eat, we sleep, we create art, we write blogs. We work out, we tend to the young and the elderly, we feed cats and let them outside. And we shop.

Today I want to give a shoutout to my favorite city, Moscow. And to two favorite shopping destinations there: one old, one new. But first, some street views.

Incidentally, this puffer coat by The Eight Senses saw me beautifully through most of January in Moscow. Respect! The only time I needed something more insulated was during a -20 freeze, which lasted three days and seriously hampered my walking time.

And here's this coat again, in SVMoscow. I wrote about them before, and I keep going back year after year. It's not just the amazing selection and the beautifully curated space, it's not just the fresh collections by The Row, Ann Demeuleemester, Yohji Yamamoto, and Vetements. It's this mirror, it's the quiet interior. It is its sense of sanctuary. I am not the one for churches, but I do find a degree of spiritual contentment trailing my fingers along their racks of black Japanese and Belgian avant garde, drinking tea in the spacious front area, walking around with the wooden floors whispering underfoot.

The greatest treasure of this space and my favorite salesperson in the world is Roman. He is a friend and a confidant, and a person who saved me from myself more times than I can count. Some Roman quotes which always make me laugh:

"No. NO. Take this off IMMEDIATELY."

"I will not let you try this on -- it's too big, it'll swallow you whole and your broad shoulders won't save you."

"I feel I would be doing you a disservice if I let you buy another black dress."

(He is always right, by the way.)

And it is also thanks to Roman that I visited the showroom of two Russian brands, Ruban and Pe for Girls. Both are the brainchildren of Alisa and Yulia Ruban, designer sisters. Pe for Girls is their younger line, much less expensive than their main one, but still exhibiting the same quality -- structured cashmere tops lined in silk, velvet track suits, simple timeless dresses:

I knew about their main line, RUBAN, which is always exquisitely and inventively constructed, but it took Roman's tip to send me looking at the Pe and its wearable and deceptively simple silhouettes, the sort of thing you can wear to work or to lounge on the couch, and always be secretly delighted by the sweep of the hem or the substantial and smooth hand of the fabric.

It took me a second visit to venture a look at the main line -- elaborate clothes with couture sensibilities require a certain state of mind. There is always a special energy in designer showspaces -- they tend to be quieter and sparcer than retail, and I especially enjoy the ones that reflect the aesthetics of their creators not only in clothes but in decor. I loved the RUBAN showroom so much -- it is so open and straw-colored, and the clothes are exquisite. 

Also they are not exactly cheap, but I lucked out and walked right into their biggest season sale. I am a sucker for structured and tailored clothes as much as I am for Belgian avant garde, and I do firmly believe in supporting domestic manufacturing (both Russian and US -- this is what happens with two homes.) The look below caught my eye right away, and after trying on the skirt I took it home.

And wore it for the first day of the Spring semester, with my trusty Protagonist made in NYC shirt. 

I dress up for my classes because they are important to me, and by dressing up I convey my sense of excitement and respect for the occasion. Or at least I hope I do! I like to wear things made by people I admire and respect. It is importantfor me to support those who are truly creative, who invest in ethical practices, who care about sustainable manufacturing while creating beauty that keeps people warm.

Because we are alive, we must leave our houses, and we must wear clothes. They tell the world of who we are and where we are coming from, of our aesthetics and desires. We chose our clothes because they matter. And we wear these clothes to honor the people who dreamed them up and made them, who put them onto shelves and racks for us to find, and those who showed them to us and talked us into trying them on.

Because even as the world falls apart, we carry on with shopping, dressing, and looking after one another.