Designer, street-style star and one of the faces of Russia’s fashion revolution, Ulyana Sergeenko’s place on the fashion scene is impossible to ignore.
Sergeenko told Harper’s Bazaar a love of clothes has been a constant part of her life, even in the fashion-starved former Soviet Union. Growing up finding inspiration from the only two fashion magazines available, Feminine Worker and Countryside Woman, Sergeenko sewed her own clothes and won recognition for her design abilities during school. Though a philosophy graduate, Sergeenko continued her design practices, gradually finding tailors to collaborate with upon moving to Moscow a few years later.
Following her marriage to billionaire oligarch Danil Khachaturov, Sergeenko became a key couture client of Valentino, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier , Chanel, and her favourite, John Galliano at Dior, introducing her to the fashion industry. She first gained renown as a show attendee, photographed by Tommy Ton alongside other members of the Russian fashion pack, or the ‘Czarinas’ as they came to be known. Sergeenko would often ask Moscow designers to create looks to her specifications, looks the designers would then feature in their collections, leaving Sergeenko frustrated and motivated to seek her due recognition.When her style caught on among friends and the like, Sergeenko eventually took up a recommendation to launch her own brand in 2011. Years later, Sergeenko has dressed an impressive roster of celebrities including Beyoncé and Nicole Kidman, racking up a dense network of Russian production links, based on the aim to promote Russian craftsmanship traditions such as Elets and Vologda lace among other handmade embroidery techniques.
Her couture collections are largely informed by her childhood in Kazakhstan during the Soviet era, her feminine silhouettes often reminiscent of the soviet fashion magazines of the 50s. Her efforts were recognised by the Paris High Fashion Syndicate, which appointed her as an official participant of its Paris High Fashion Week. Sergeenko’s brand is the first Russian brand of its kind to join the event. In 2018, an Ulyana Sergeenko couture exhibition was staged at the Hotel d’Evreux in Paris, and her Autumn/Winter collection was shown in the Russian Embassy in Paris. Sergeenko has also designed gowns for the international ballet star Sergei Polunin, opened a pop-up store in the Russian Seasons Gallery and debuted her 2019 Spring/Summer collection at the opening night of Galeries Lafayette in Doha, in 2019.
Sergeenko is represented by elite fashion publicist Karla Otto and has a team of 65 in Russia, where the collection is designed and produced. Alongside her creative endeavours, the designer also part-takes in cultural exchange projects between Qatar and Russia such as the Love Ball Arabia charity event.
In 2018, Sergeenko briefly came under media fire for a bouquet of flowers sent to fashion and lifestyle digital magazine CEO and long-time friend, Miroslava Duma , with a handwritten note quoting a suggestively racist song lyric. Sergeenko issued an apology via Instagram following the incident.