Alexander Arngoldt is a master storyteller. He makes costumes, not mere clothes. His women are heroes in grand narratives of their own daring creation. The opening collection of Aurora Fashion Week in St Petersburg charmed the audience with its flawless concept and execution (nevermind the shoes). Sounds of horses against horn and strings set the mood to epic. Like an illustrated pop-up book, the collection told a story of a tumultuous relationship between a girl-of-the-month and a Centaur made of fashion magazine scraps.
A Michel Gondry worthy premise could have easily clichéd into collage, but Arngoldt distills it to a selection of faded colors and classic cuts. French cabaret songs underscored couture appeal of cocktail dresses and high waist pant suits in shades of ink gray, hay yellow, burnt orange, heavy dawn pink and milk white. Textured fabrics and prints explored simple geometry of circles, raindrops, wild field flowers, all things cyclical. Whenever Arngoldt strayed from the classic curve silhouettes, the garments lost focus. Clear stilettos with silver trim proved to be a challenge to three models who took them off midway round the catwalk. It was not clear whether this was indeed footwear malfunction or part of the idea.
Other collection highlights include puffed collars, well-placed lacework insets, and polkadot accessories. It was a strong collection, critic-friendly and buyer-ready, a feat! At the end, instead of the usual looks parade, models in skintight off-white pajama warps circled the venue barefoot. This was sensuality in its basic form. Underneath it all, one’s desire to connect life’s dots with gossamer threads of belonging. The eternal romanticism of the impossible. A milk bucket that Alexander Arngoldt carried on his head for the customary designer bow appeared as ritual coronation of him as Aurora’s most exciting resident.