After years plagued by rumours of illness and bankruptcy, Russia’s most famous designer, Vyacheslav Zaitsev, 83, is readying for a relaunch of his fashion label Slava Zaitsev, to be helmed by his son, Yegor, and granddaughters, Maroussia and Anastasia.
A spokesperson for Zaitsev told BoF the company has cleared its financial problems and would diversify its product range beyond fashion to include beauty, watches, porcelain, wallpapers and luxury bed linens.
Yegor Zaitsev, 61, took over as director of the fashion house in 2019. According to Alexander Shumsky, president of the Russian Fashion Council and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, the younger Zaitsev is not only a talented fashion designer, but also a “gifted” businessman.
“[He has been able to] solve all the financial problems now since he got total power over the fashion house,” Shumsky said. His father is expected to remain as a kind of figurehead of the brand.
Vyacheslav Zaitsev, more commonly known as Slava, first came to prominence in the 1960s when his designs were featured in French magazines that dubbed him the “Red Dior”. This attracted the attention of industry insiders, including Pierre Cardin, Guy Laroche and Christian Dior’s Mark Boan, who went to Moscow to meet the promising designer in 1965.
Zaitsev built his reputation as Russia’s most well-known fashion designer over several decades. In 1982 he founded his own label, which he used to dress Russia’s most celebrated stars and political elite, before attracting a new clientele of nouveau riche consumers following the fall of the USSR.
In 1988, Marie-Louise Carven invited Zaitsev to Paris, where he showed his “Russian Seasons” collection. The following year was a high point for Zaitsev, when he famously beat out Donna Karan, Claude Montana and Hanae Mori to win first prize at a design competition in Tokyo.
Plagued by financial problems in recent years, the Slava Zaitsev brand was rumoured to be for sale several times. Though it has never ceased operations, it has certainly fallen far from its earlier highs as its clientele aged along with the designer. The brand’s rejuvenation will be a considerable project for the younger generations of Zaitsevs now in charge.
“[Zaitsev’s] tragedy is that he is a genius artist like Yves Saint Laurent or Christian Dior, but he never had some genius businessman beside him, like Marcel Boussac, who helped Dior launch his business or Pierre Wertheimer, who worked together with Coco Chanel,” Shumsky said.