Last week I was looking at photos from Moscow Fashion Week and discovered Alena Akhmadullina's Fall/Winter 2011/12 collection. Although New York, London, Milan and Paris are undoubtedly the most important cities for fashion, narrowing your perspective to only these 4 places is very limiting because fashion is also happening elsewhere, indeed to a lesser extent, but not in a less interesting way.
See the full collection here.
Alena Akhmadullina's F/W11 collection reminds me of Dolce & Gabbana S/S11 in the sense that it's honest and unpretentious, no complicated concept, just wearable clothes. When it comes to conceptual vs. non-conceptual fashion, I really love both, but I also think conceptual sometimes transforms into trying too hard. Collections like Akhmadullina's and Dolce & Gabbana's aren't trying too hard. They're not even trying. They just are. If they catch the right moment to just be, it's enough.
What I find the most appealing about Akhmadullina's collection is its different aesthetics, far away from NY, London, Paris and Milan. The clothes are actually so nice. She used a lot of prints that have the dreaded "granny" potential, but it's like they're evoking another world, not strange associations. The fur doesn't stand out (you can't take it too seriously either when it's gracing a sort of slouchy (but still super lovely) coat!), although other designers are always making a big deal out of it (most recently Prada with their S/S11 fox fur stoles) because it has to be seen.
There was this image-slash-stereotype of "Russian style" that us foreigners had (or still have?) some time ago; it was extremely BLING BLING, heavy fur coats, big diamonds, too much perfume or cologne, everything covered in logos. Then about 2 years ago everyone was suddenly saying Russians had started dressing classier. I can't vouch for any of this because I don't have connections with Russia, but if it's true, maybe it has something to do with the fact that the fur in this collection is rather understated.
Despite the different aesthetics, this collection resonates with me as much as the "Western" collections I like. It has this universal quality that's the essential part of good fashion no matter its origin.