The man who dictates fashion to
After graduating from the Moscow State Textile University, Slava Zaitsev was hired as a womenswear designer at a factory in the Moscow region. The young man’s first collection upset the status quo, as he broke away from the usual drab workers’ clothing to create colorful jackets and boots and dresses featuring Pavlovo Posad* motifs. The creative board accused him of exerting a toxic influence over the Soviet people. Disappointed, Zaitsev then set about coloring the boring, ugly clothing using gouache paint…
In 1963 however, at the age of 24, Zaitsev was interviewed by French special envoys for Paris-Match newspaper in an article entitled “The Man Dictating Fashion in Moscow.”
Two years after the article was published, Zaitsev was found in Moscow by Dior’s Marc Bohan and other fashion designers such as Guy Laroche and Pierre Cardin who were eager to meet the daring Russian. He had just finished his studies, and was introduced to figures who would go on to become leading designers. A Parisian newspaper published a photo of Zaitsev flanked by Pierre Cardin and Marc Bohan, both impressed by his creations, in an article entitled “The Kings of Fashion.” Cardin even described him as his equal, and the French press nicknamed him the “Red Dior.”
From then on, his fame grew in the West and his collections were presented at Paris and Florence Fashion Weeks. In 1988, for the very first time in haute-couture history, Soviet fashion caused a storm in Paris thanks to Zaitsev. The Russian designer was even invited by Madame Carven to present his new collection at the Marigny Theater. He was lauded as the man of the year in the ultra-elitist fashion world, and was later named an honorary citizen of the city of Paris.
Pierre Cardin, Slava Zaitsev et Guy Laroche