Splendeur! San Francisco couture connoisseur Tatiana Sorokko’s fabulous couture collection goes on show in Moscow
Eighty unique designs by vintage Yves Saint Laurent, Patou, Ralph Rucci, Vivienne Westwood, James Galanos, Balenciaga, Balmain, Yamamoto, Alaia, Lanvin, and other luminaries, go on show in Russia this week, in a dazzling first-time exhibit.
Exclusive preview: view rare vintage couture from this 80-piece show, and see inside Tatiana’s private fashion world
San Francisco’s Tatiana Sorokko, a former top model in Paris, Milan, and London, has been collecting rare and gorgeous vintage and one-of-a-kind Paris couture since her early days modeling in Europe in the nineties. At that time, no-one was interested in vintage and couture, she said, so she was able to find handsewn, beaded and elaborately constructed pieces by Balenciaga, Gaultier, Patou and Balmain for a song.
Today, she collects Ralph Rucci couture, and commissions gowns from Alaia.
Now her collection is being shown in Moscow as part of Russian Fashion Week, April 1-31, 2010.
Tatiana with GianFranco Ferre.
From her early days modeling in Paris for top designers, Tatiana Sorokko has been besotted with fashion.
Imagine modeling for Yves Saint Laurent in his glory days, and becoming best friends and treasured muse for Ralph Rucci.
She modeled for Vivienne Westwood (with Jerry Hall) or Yohji Yamamoto or GianFranco Ferre and Azzedine Alaia—and then scooped up some of the best sample gowns to add to your collection. Or even better, commissioned a one-of-a-kind evening gown from Alaia or Ferre.
I’ve been very fortunate to see up-close many of Tatiana Sorokko’s couture outfits as she wears them to opening night galas of the San Francisco Opera or the San Francisco Symphony, and to gallery openings and parties in California and in Paris and New York.
I’ve also seen them in her closets at her house in Mill Valley, north of San Francisco, where she lives with her husband, gallery owner Serge Sorokko.
Tatiana carefully stores her collection of precious gowns, along with her collection of Codognato jewelry, Blahnik shoes, Hermes bags and gloves, and wildly original hats.
There are beaded tunics (James Galanos), and silk-screened evening jackets (Ralph Rucci), as well as a Patou coat, and a Ralph Rucci gown with an orange coq feather bolero.
‘Splendeur!’ as Diane Vreeland would exclaim in her inimitable faux French accent.
“Extending the Runway: Tatiana Sorokko Style” opens in Moscow on April 2, 2010 and features a collection of over 80 garments and accessories from Tatiana Sorokko’s extraordinary couture wardrobe.
The exhibition runs through May 1, 2010,at the brand new Russian Fashion Museum and has been curated by Dennita Sewell, former collections manager at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and currently curator of fashion design at the Phoenix Art Museum.
The exhibition coincides with Russian Fashion Week, which launches its 20th season on April 1, 2010 at the World Trade Center in Moscow.
Tatiana Sorokko was the first Soviet/Russian model to achieve worldwide success.
Moving from Moscow to Paris in 1990, she walked the runways for major designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Karl Lagerfeld, Miuccia Prada, Issey Miyake, Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, and Calvin Klein, among many others.
For over a decade, Sorokko graced the covers and editorial pages of European and American magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Elle and Cosmopolitan.
‘Extending the Runway: Tatiana Sorokko Style’ showcases works from the early 20s through today, by legendary designers and fashion houses such as Fortuny, Paquin, Lanvin, Madame Grès, Balmain, Patou, Balenciaga, Ungaro, Hermès, Alaia, Jean Paul Gaultier, Gianfranco Ferré, Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garçons, Yamamoto, Halston, Galanos, and Chado Ralph Rucci, among others.
Ralph Rucci, who will be attending the exhibit opening, attests, “Tatiana's style is not only flawless, it is also highly influential. She has absolutely inspired me…”
‘Extending the Runway: Tatiana Sorokko Style’ will occupy the newly renovated former offices of the Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Solomentsev. This historical building is part of the All-Russian Museum of Decorative Arts. It is the first Western exhibition to take place here and a symbolic one as Tatiana left the Soviet Union, and now, twenty years later, she comes back to a new Russia to share her vision and exhibit her collection in the inner sanctum of the fallen empire.
The Russian Fashion Museum (RFM) was established in Moscow in October 2009. It is part of the All-Russian Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts. The RFM’s basic collection has over 30,000 unique pieces including medieval costumes, important textiles and fashion sketches, among other iconic objects.
Russian Fashion Week in Moscow (RFW) is the biggest fashion event in Eastern Europe. On April 1-7, 2010 RFW is celebrating its 20th season in Moscow’s Congress Hall of the World Trade Center.
RFW attracts over 45,000 people and over 1,000 accredited journalists and buyers. www.russianfashionweek.com
The exhibition will run from April 2 until May 10, 2010. All-Russian Museum of Decorative Arts and Russian Fashion Museum: 3, Delegatskaya Street, Moscow.
Tatiana in a twenties French beaded tunic, at the residence of vintage fashion expert and dealer Ricky Serbin and architect Mitchell Benjamin.
Best friends, designer and muse; Ralph Rucci with one of his paintings, and Tatiana in a Ralph Rucci tunic inspired by the painting.
A Chat with Tatiana:
To celebrate her show in Moscow, I sat down with Tatiana at her art-filled Mill Valley house, 30 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge, for a sip of Russian tea before she jetted off to Russia.
Diane Dorrans Saeks: Your museum show in Moscow during Russian Fashion Week will be glamorous and divine. Wish I could be there! What’s it like returning to Moscow as such a celebrated fashion figure? Ralph Rucci will be there. Who could ask for more!
Tatiana Sorokko: I left Moscow when I barely turned 18, at the time when most people were just finding out about perestroika and Russia was opening up.
I was following in my father's steps and studied to be a physicist. My true love, however, was fashion, and all things glamorous fascinated me since I was a little girl. It was at that time that I met Marilyn Gauthier of Marilyn Models and she invited me to come to Paris to become a model. Naturally, I did not have to think long.
The Moscow I left behind in 1990 was still the capital of the Soviet Union. There was not much there in terms of fashion. Department stores offered largely the same boring clothes, poorly executed and wholly unfashionable. It's an altogether different place now, some twenty years later.
Moscow today is one of the most vibrant cities in Europe, a truly "happening" place. It is also remarkably fashionable. My exhibition is scheduled to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Russian Fashion Week.
Numerous designers, both from Russia and elsewhere, will be showing their collections, and the public interest in enormous. Moscow has become a fashion capital, and I am very excited to be invited to bring my collection there.
Having an inaugural exhibition at the brand new Russian Fashion Museum is a humbling experience. At the same time, I am thrilled that my show will be the first ever exhibition of Western couture, and I am happy to share my vision of fashion and style with Russian women.
DDS: Which qualities do you look for in couture fashions you collect?
TS: I look for intelligence behind the design, uniqueness and superb craftsmanship. I'd like to think that couture fashions I collect all have a style that is truly timeless.
There are fewer and fewer artisans working for couturiers today. Fewer ateliers making feathers and embroidery, fewer hat and glove makers. It makes me sad to imagine that some day, like endangered species, they will disappear from the face of the earth, leaving couture an art form of the past.
DDS: I've been fortunate to see you wearing many of these outfits. I love the craftsmanship, the detail, the luxe fabrics, the feathers and beading. I was able to view up-close the beaded Galanos tunic at a gallery party. I watched the feathers fly when you wore the gloriously romantic Chado Ralph Rucci ivory feathered gown at the San Francisco Opera gala opening.
Eight years ago there was the stunning and glorious Alaia couture gown, also at the opera opening. There were dozens of yards of fine black wool and burgundy contrast fabric on the long swinging skirt. It was so chic, so totally different from the usual glitzy ball gown. Alaia designed red ballet slippers to wear with it. Perfection.
At parties in San Francisco and the Napa Valley and in Los Angeles and New York. I’ve seen all the Chado Ralph Rucci tunics and jackets and coats and all the Ralph Rucci evening gowns. He's the best. His ensembles are the most luxurious, creative, and imaginative.
These are couture pieces you wear in California and Paris and New York, and pieces everyone can enjoy.
TS: Yes, this is not a museum collection. I wear them all the time. Ralph Rucci’s printed silk chiffon gowns and his silk faille and silk satin tunics and silk taffeta dresses are light and packable, and very practical. I travel with them. I am very fortunate.
My collection of couture was not really conceived to be placed on mannequins and displayed in museums. I do not mind doing this once in a while, though.I wear all of my things all the time. Mine is a "living" collection that is evolving, and it uniquely reflects my style and remains timeless. I will keep adding as I find pieces.
DDS: Tatiana, congratulations on this splendid event. It is your triumphant return to Moscow and I am so happy for you. God Speed.
Tatiana Sorokko with designer, Ralph Rucci, at his apartment in New York.
Tatiana wore Chado Ralph Rucci gowns above to the gala openings of the San Francisco Opera.
Tatiana in a vintage Balmain gown, with Denise Hale in GianFranco Ferre.
Tatiana in a GianFranco Ferre dress, in her couture closet, at home in Mill Valley, California.
Tatiana and James Galanos
Tatiana with Azzedine Alaia
Tatiana and Yohji Yamamoto
Tatiana with Yves Saint Laurent
Tatiana strikes a pose with Jerry Hall at a Vivienne Westwood show.
Red chiffon gown by Vivienne Westwood
Photography of Tatiana Sorokko's couture fashions on mannequins by Ken Howie.
Photography of Tatiana wearing Ralph Rucci gowns at the San Francisco Opera, and with James Galanos, by Drew Altizer.
Photograph of Denise Hale and Tatiana Sorokko by Thomas John Gibbons.
Portrait of Tatiana in black beaded dress at the residence of Ricky Serbin and Mitchell Benjamin by David Duncan Livingston.