San Francisco is built on stories of eclectic personalities overcoming improbable odds in pursuit of their own personal Gold Rush. It’s part of what makes the Bay Area a dream destination for creatives from all over the world. Out on the town, you run into fairytales at every turn. Case in point, the spring/summer 2017 fashion show by émigré designer Vasily Vein at the University Club of San Francisco. The two hundred names on the guest list read like a who-is-who of the city’s social stratosphere, notwithstanding the power a clandestine “plus one”… This show made one thing certain between the designer and his new hometown: the love affair is mutual.
The 125-year-old members-only club with its antique books, sculptures and paintings was the perfect location for Vein’s collection inspired by classical composers Johan Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi. At the pre-show mixer, over the clinking of champagne flutes and through the colossus of tulle that hovered above the lobby centerpiece, one could make out the silhouette of Vasily himself. A fierce blonde mane, a quirky navy and white gridded suit, his signature look.
The designer guided his audience through the creative stages: “I need to fall in love with the fabrics first. After that, I create a sketch of the garment, however, it’s impossible to compare the initial sketch to the final look. My clients are always happily surprised, because it’s all so very unexpected. Every dress is a living process.” So much so that some of the eighteen pieces in the collection were still being finalized earlier in the day!
“I made everything on my own without any assistants. It is 100 percent my work, from start to finish,” said Vein as chanteuse Masha Campagne and DJ Kiro Ordin wrapped their preshow performances.
Under the warm glow of chandeliers and the San Francisco skyline glittering in the background, the collection itself was stunning – a pillar of elegance and sophistication. Donning sultry makeup by Jamie Huang and elaborate up-do’s by hairstylist Nicole Fike, models graced the resplendent catwalk in custom red floral printed taffeta gowns and delicate silken rose appliqued velvet ensembles. An intricately embroidered and sequined sheath dress in chocolate brown preceded a bouffant black cocktail dress dripping with sparkling obsidian beads and layers of tulle ruffles that perfectly fit Vein’s flair for the dramatic. His love of giant bows, elegant sashes and flouncing hemlines paired with posh pearls and dazzling crystal embellishments was lavishly evident.
During the final parade of looks, as guests applauded Vein’s talent and commitment to glamour, local social media was igniting with Instagram and Twitter reports: #trending #vasilyvein. Meanwhile, a bidding blitzkrieg was already underway in the front row where several attendees could be overheard placing immediate orders.
Among the most enthusiastic supporters of Vasily Vein’s style were Sonya Molodetskaya, the longtime companion of the legendary ex-mayor Willie Brown and in her own right as a socialite and a long time supporter of Vein, and Rumiko McCarthy, a military veteran, physicist and model who ordered a particularly striking gown for her next social engagement as a philanthropist with the Global Gratitude Project… As was said, San Francisco runs on stories of eclectic personalities in pursuit of impossible dreams!
By Kahea Montgomery, with additional reporting by Alexey Timbul