WORDS BY SOPHIE HENDERSON
Brimming with Baroque palaces, elegant canals and illustrious theatres, St. Petersburg is one of the grandest cities in the world. From ballets at the famed Mariinsky Theatre to Imperial Eggs at the Fabergé Museum, the city’s regal and historic heart is largely frozen in time.
Just a few hours’ drive from the Finnish border, St. Petersburg has always been influenced by the minimalist vision of Scandinavian fashion. Locals are known to dress in swathes of heavily layered outerwear, which juxtaposes with the lavish architecture and decadent costume that defines the city’s past.
Alongside cultural thrills lies a contemporary vision for the surrounding industrial areas. St. Petersburg’s regeneration has resulted in a buzzing gallery scene and an increasing number of independent boutiques, restaurants and bars. Best experienced during the White Nights, the sun blazes all night long from late May to early July when the city comes alive with festivals.
Enamoured by St. Petersburg’s cultural clout, we caught up with Russia-based Chuvash artist Polina Osipova. After moving to St. Petersburg at just 16, Osipova turned to the homespun skills of childhood in her grandmother’s small village to anchor herself in city life.
Honouring her background, preserving history and reinterpreting Chuvash traditions through wearable art, Osipova is a multidisciplinary voice in the city’s large-scale artistic vision. Wearing her favourite pieces from FARFETCH, she shares her stories and St. Petersburg style guide with a global audience.
Polina Osipova (@polinatammi)
Artist based in St Petersburg, Russia wearing Vivienne Westwood and
Please tell us why you chose these FARFETCH pieces. What do you like about this brand?
I’ve always been a fan of Vivienne Westwood, but I only used to have the vintage pieces that I found online, at flea markets and in second-hand stores. After I started working with FARFETCH, I started wearing the brand’s coats and jeans. I absolutely adore the asymmetric fit and prints.
To balance out the rebellious nature of this look, I added a pair of Manolo Blahnik flats. I’m a huge fan of Sex and the City, and I used to watch it with my mum when I was a kid. That’s how I fell in love with the brand, and Manolos make me feel like the femme fatale.
Which places or areas in St. Petersburg do you find inspiring in terms of art and fashion?
For inspiration I regularly go to the Russian Museum of Ethnography. They have an incredible collection of national costumes and jewellery from different nations in Eurasia. It’s the biggest museum of ethnography in Russia and it’s located on the Arts Square, so it’s a must-visit in St. Petersburg.
Another favourite place of mine is the Museum of Music in the Sheremetev Palace. They always have temporary exhibitions that are related to fashion. I fell in love when I first visited at the age of 18. There was an exhibition dedicated to the Dyagilev Festival but I visited a day too late. A curator was walking past and overheard how upset I was that I missed it and gave my friend and me a personal tour, even though they were taking the exhibition down.
Later, I visited their exhibition ‘Fashion to the people! From constructivism to design’ and the numerous exhibitions that had the Bakst’s sketches for the Dyagilev’s ballets.
How would you describe street style fashion? Do you have any styling tips for core outfit pieces during winter in St. Petersburg?
It really doesn’t matter how you dress and what your style is. Although, you always have to have a pair of shoes like Dr. Martens to withstand the cold, snow and rainy weather.
I wear shoes with a chunky sole, a coat that is wind-resistant and a vest underneath my coat to stay warm. I have to keep my ears warm and I’ve been wearing balaclavas for the past few years.
What are some of the best boutiques in St. Petersburg?
In terms of architecture, my favourite place is the Au Pont Rouge, which is an art nouveau masterpiece on the Moyka river embankment. It is located in the former Esders and Sheifals shopping centre where the emperor’s family would go shopping.