Mind The Puppeteers: Viva Vox Summer/Spring 2017

Designer Oleg Ovsiyov is no puppet. He has steered brand Viva Vox through a decade of radical taste shifts in the volatile Moscow fashion scene. The rouble goes up, the glitter rains down. The oil stocks go south and the fur trade freezes up. Catering to Russian high-end fashionistas takes extraordinary stamina and a touch of madness. Ovsiyov has mastered both. His spring-summer 2017 collection boldly ventures into a national taboo-du-jour: Americana.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 17: A model walks the runway at the VIVA VOX show during day five of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia SS17 at Manege on October 17, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – OCTOBER 17: A model walks the runway at the VIVA VOX show during day five of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia SS17 at Manege on October 17, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)

While the official propaganda machine mines Washington-Moscow politics for blame-game distractions, he delivers an all-you-can-eat Mickey Mouse buffet complete with monochrome cowboy hats, paparazzi-proof Jackie O sunglasses and those jackets the First Lady made ubiquitous in the Reagan era. The collection comes short of waving a star-spangled banner.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 17: A model walks the runway at the VIVA VOX show during day five of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia SS17 at Manege on October 17, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – OCTOBER 17: A model walks the runway at the VIVA VOX show during day five of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia SS17 at Manege on October 17, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 17: A model walks the runway at the VIVA VOX show during day five of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia SS17 at Manege on October 17, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – OCTOBER 17: A model walks the runway at the VIVA VOX show during day five of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia SS17 at Manege on October 17, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)

However, Viva Vox has made a stellar reputation on ingenuity and craftsmanship, not international scandal. Far from becoming a blatant Disney pastiche, these clothes attract and hold attention for their construction and styling, eclipsing the cartoon(ish) origin of the inspiration behind them. No small feat, mind you, since an estimated 98% of children aged 3-11 are aware of the character.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 17: A model walks the runway at the VIVA VOX show during day five of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia SS17 at Manege on October 17, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – OCTOBER 17: A model walks the runway at the VIVA VOX show during day five of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia SS17 at Manege on October 17, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)

The designer elevates the discourse on fashion iconography flawlessly mixing cultural phenomena with expert innovative tailoring. This collection is bigger than Moscow, larger than Politics, more fun than TV. It’s a career re-defining statement. Oleg Ovsiyov is no puppet. It’s time to get him onto a larger stage.

Alexey Timbul

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