June 2, 2023
Fashion designer Vyacheslav Zaitsev died at the age of 85

Fashion designer Vyacheslav Zaitsev died at the age of 85

Photo: Evgeniya GUSEVA

He was not just first fashion designer Soviet Union. Dabout the appearance of Valentin Yudashkin he was the only one. Those whom they knew by sight and by name. Those who communicated on an equal footing with the giants of Western fashion. For those who opened their own Fashion House in Moscow back in 1982. To those who dressed the biggest Soviet stars – Alla Pugacheva, Edita Piekha, Lyudmila Zykina, Lyudmila Gurchenko, Muslim Magomayev, figure skater Lyudmila Pakhomova and many others. It is his clothes that Zinochka wears in Ivan Vasilyevich. And Andrei Mironov played his last role as Figaro in a costume created by Zaitsev for the performance of the Theater of Satire – in it, the actor had an aneurysm ruptured right on the stage, and he was buried in it.

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich was born in 1938 in Ivanovo – it seems almost fateful, because it was this city that became the textile center of Russia even under the tsars. His mother was a cleaner and laundress (on the official website in the “Biography” section they are expressed more delicately – “washer”), and even as a child he was struck by the deep white color of the things she washed. He began to draw, cross-stitch … They say he dreamed of becoming an actor, but he had to forget about it: after the war, his father ended up in a camp as an “enemy of the people”, and with such a dad, Slava would not have been taken to the theater school. So, when he grew up, he first entered the Ivanovo Chemical-Technological College, and then – at the Moscow Textile Institute.

Photo: Evgeniya GUSEVA

He had many ideas, but it was difficult to break through them. In various interviews, he bitterly repeated the same thing: “the state [было] It is not beneficial for people to dress individually. All our ideas were limited to all sorts of artistic advice and other standards for three holes and two seams”, “in Russia, no one supports fashion, no one needs it here, and it has always been like this.” The very first collection, created by him in his youth for female workers, was spectacular – “bright quilted jackets, skirts from Pavloposad shawls.” And the artistic council did not like it – it horrified. But, they say, journalists from Paris Match somehow got to the meeting – and soon the magazine published an article entitled “The Man Who Dictates Fashion to Moscow.”

Photo: Evgeniya GUSEVA

And soon Pierre Cardin, Guy Laroche and designer Marc Boin from Christian Dior came to the USSR, insisted on a meeting with Zaitsev (he came in a jacket borrowed from a friend and a discounted Hungarian tweed coat bought for 18 rubles on the market). The whole company was photographed, and the card (chansonnier Gilbert Beko was still present) appeared in Women Wear Daily magazine with the caption “Meeting of fashion kings in Moscow.” And a few years later in France, Zaitsev began to directly call “Russian Dior”. “In Pravda, an article immediately appeared: they say, we have sixty such Diors in our country,” he recalled.

Photo: Evgeniya GUSEVA

Nevertheless, Zaitsev’s talent was so obvious, so bright that it was impossible to turn a blind eye to him. He worked at the House of Models on Kuznetsky Most, creating one collection after another. He was awarded for dresses, but stubbornly did not let him go abroad for many years (he made the only trip to Bulgaria, and only thanks to his friend Cardin: he said that if Zaitsev did not come to the fashion festival, he would not come either). The question of Vyacheslav Mikhailovich’s trip was decided in the Central Committee of the CPSU, and, apparently, they came to the conclusion that he would not be able to escape to the West from socialist Bulgaria (and then it was a very sore subject, given the flight of Baryshnikov and Nureyev). However, in fact, Zaitsev said that he never wanted to emigrate from Russia.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Well, in the Soviet Union, many women of fashion literally prayed for him. He came up with, for example, hoodie for Alla Pugacheva: “Alla was embarrassed by her body and did not want to wear tight-fitting. I offered her a hoodie, she liked it, seemed comfortable. And she performed in this image for a long time. I also measured other models, but I didn’t dare, ”he said in an interview with KP.RU. He could tell many such stories.

If we talk about ordinary women, some Muscovites came to the House of Models on Prospekt Mira and simply admired his outfits, although they could not afford to buy them. By the way, the head of the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the CPSU helped him open the Fashion House Evgeny Tyazhelnikovwho favored him. Such individual support from high-ranking persons helped him more than once: for example, already with Yeltsin he received a state award for his collection because he liked it very much Naina Iosifovnaand she, apparently, asked her husband to encourage the fashion designer …

Photo: Ivan MAKEEV

In the 2000s, he was a master hosted “Fashion Sentence” on Channel One, was kind and charming in this program. In real life, he was a wonderful conversationalist. The only time I saw him was in 2009 at the flax festival in Plyos, where I somehow got carried away – I attended an interview that journalist Vita Ramm took from him, sometimes interfering with his questions. About his ideal, he then said: “They have always been Michelangelo Buonarroti. His lifestyle, his position… I was ecstatic when I studied his work.” And about today’s fashion – “I’m scared to look at the clothes of girls on the stage. The style of shamelessness rules, alas. And I feel like a person from another era.”


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