Videographer photographer Andrey Efimov
Videographer photographer Andrey Efimov

Time advances all things but does not necessitate the evisceration of what came before it. Creativity and an artistic perspective can embrace the best of the past, present, and future. Fashion designer Ulyana Sergeenko proved this without a question at this year’s Haute Couture show. Ulyana Sergeenko is the first-ever Russian brand to be honored to participate in this main fashion event. Her Fall-Winter collection simultaneously featured time honored craftsmanship unique to Russia and designs which one would expect at a premier fashion event.

The stunning videos presented with the collection communicated Ulyana’s commitment to keeping such traditions alive through her work. Videographer Andrey Efimov has created this series of brief films which are very much works of art in themselves. Ranging from stark black & white to colorful vignettes, the spectrum of emotion is on a grand scale. Efimov, who has worked on numerous social media campaigns, proves here that the talent of a true artist is evident on any “canvas” touched.

Mr. Efimov confesses that he threw himself completely into this project, losing a few pounds as he became completely immersed in his work.

He imparts, “I was terribly interested to dive into this process, to learn a lot about forgotten folk crafts. I did my best to allow the viewer to feel the great manual labor that is spent even on a dress, but at the same time I wanted it to not become a dull documentary; we brought in video elements of dynamic fashion editing to aid in this.

Scenes on the black background were intentionally made quite aggressive to convey the fighting spirit of a strong and confident woman. Ulyana and I were happy with the result, and the viewers in social networks expressed a lot of praise. I found the entire process inspiring and will admit that my own vanity was amused by the applause and powerful response we received after the premier.”

The three videos in this series follow the process, informing of its tradition and utilization in Ulyana’s designs. The first of these, “Krestetskaya Stitch” is a refined black and white presentation of this traditional style native to Russia and this region. In this video, the musical counterpoint of streamlined piano music emphasizes the timeless and enduring aura of this work. This transitions into full color film, communicating this fine embroidery work occurring in the modern day.

Andrey describes, “For the first block we had to immerse ourselves in folk art, which is already dying out in Russia. Ulyana honors these traditions in her designs and sent a film crew headed by me to the Krestetskaya Stichka factory, where only locals work. I wanted to reflect the painstaking manual labor and jewelry work as well as the atmosphere of privacy of the factory and a respect for folk crafts.” Vetting the impact of these videos, the factory in Kresttsy gained worldwide popularity after their publication.

“Traditions, handicrafts, techniques, and inventions during the creation of the new collection at Ulyana Sergeenko atelier in Moscow” is the second video and opens with close-ups of the hands of varied artists who take part in the embroidery, cutting, and fitting, of Ulyana’s creations in a Moscow factory. There’s a cosmopolitan-chic aesthetic to these creations. An energy which translates into modern-day while utilizing the same tradition of creation. Interwoven with the model walking in these designs are photos of the classic beauties of the black & white film era.

Mr. Efimov’s decision to use black & white establishes a “peek a boo” tone backstage amidst the liveliness and bustle of the fitting process. The third and final video is dramatic and powerful with varied models adorned by the designs, traversing the catwalk while tribal drums punctuate the beats. It is starkly apparent at this point that the audience has been taken on a journey that is vast. One of the final scenes is stunning in its beauty, featuring Ulyana Sergeenko standing on the edge of an open field; a message concludes the video which reads, “The collection wouldn’t see the light without the devotion and determination of each team member.” 

It’s undeniable that the heart of these videos is not to aggrandize the designer but to respect the people and traditions native to this country. It’s obvious that Ms. Sergeekno feels that championing artistic identities of her part of the world is a worthy calling. In Andrey Efimov she has found an artist who can communicate these thoughts with emotive gravitas to a wide audience; an audience which will expand as online views increase. Videos such as these are powerful because they reach the feelings and thoughts of the public. Creating these productions comes with a responsibility.

Andrey Efimov communicates, “The hardest part for me was realizing the size and scope of the project but when I first started the script, I was so drawn in by the process that I did everything with great pleasure. I had some difficulty with the human factor on site; people from the regions don’t like the camera, they are sometimes even afraid of it.

I had to convince them that I would reflect them in the best light. There are also times when things go wrong on set and you have to take matters into your own hands, distracting you from the creative process, but that’s part of my job and I willingly accept it as part of the process in creating something that can move hearts.”

Writer: Coleman Haan

By Punit