Despite being a fashion powerhouse in Russia, Igor Chapurin is still a best-kept secret amongst industry insiders. The forty-something, Moscow-based designer has built up a fashion empire, creating not only Haute Couture pieces and high-end prêt-à-porter (shown in Paris twice a year) but also accessories, men’s suiting, skiwear and a growing home and furniture line, named Chapurincasa.

Writer Philippe Pourhashemi

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© Vincent Ferrane

Hailing from a family of entrepreneurs in the textile industry, fashion was a natural choice for him “I think my future was predicted from the start”, he explains. “After winning the Nina Ricci competition in 1994, my career took off.” In October 2005, Chapurin presented his work in Paris for the first time and his name came to prominence on the international scene. His woman is bold, self-assured and sophisticated. Produced in Russia, his clothes are highly luxurious, but completely modern, drawing on the richness of the country’s heritage to dress an urban woman “I was inspired by Russian art for my last collection. I used a lot of strong colours this time, which is quite unusual for me. I wanted the clothes to have a deep emotional charge and uplifting spirit, echoing Wassily Kandinsky‘s paintings. The abstract prints I picked were actually inspired by him.” Chapurin seems more in tune with Russia’s traditions -which he refers to in his clothes- than its contemporary culture, even though he quotes New Russian Cinema as a source of inspiration. Still, there’s nothing conservative about what he does “I like creating tension and conflict with my clothes. Whether it be fabric, cut or colour, I always work with contrast and that’s one of the things my clients love.” A true Russian at heart, Chapurin has the charisma and intensity often associated with his peers. He seems focused and confident, with no hesitation in his voice. Having lived in Moscow for the past 15 years, he thrives on the city’s energy and atmosphere “Moscow is a city that never stops. It also has a very different vibe from other places I know. People are constantly absorbing information there and they have this craving for newness. I only take the good aspects and leave the rest.”

A self-confessed workaholic, Chapurin never stops designing, always looking for the next challenge. The notion of a typical day does not apply to his life: he may finish off an interior design project, work on fittings for costumes at the Bolshoi Theatre or craft a one-off gown. Even though there are still few designers of his level coming out of Russia, he considers himself part of a generation revamping the industry by giving it new standards. He also hopes his efforts will motivate young designers to set up their own businesses and take a chance. “Russia is tough for young talent”, he explains “In Moscow, we don’t have a fashion industry as such. It’s easy to come up with a brand project, but difficult to last. The industrial structure and governmental support are not there to help you grow. The Perestroika was a process of rebirth that happened through destruction. There’s still so much to build up.“ Even though he loves Paris as a city, he would never leave Russia to live elsewhere. As he nicely puts it “Russia is a strong river now. You either go with the flow or stay on the shore.”

See some looks of Igor’s Summer/Spring 2011 collection, shown at last month’s Paris Fashion Week.

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