Denis Simachev, a petit, flamboyant dresser with long dark hair and a droopy mustache, recently opened his first flagship—a large building swaddled, like a teapot in its cozy, in Russia's beloved country-folk hohkolovo pattern—on Stoleshnikov Lane, the main shopping drag. There are a few other Russian designers with stores in Moscow, but none with Simachev's reach: he's said to be funded by the expatriate oligarch Roman Abramovich, and his clothes are sold in 30 countries. The look, an absurdist mash-up of Russian gangster and British aristocrat, makes heavily ironic commentary on the country's trashy elitism with things like handmade leather shoes embossed with anchors, cuff links emblazoned with Soviet cartoon characters, and tailored suits laden with flashy gold hardware. A snide T-shirt featuring Putin's face surrounded by flowers was a sensation in 2002 (it's said that even Vladimir Vladimirovich's daughter wears one). When Simachev signed the lease on the space on Stoleshnikov Lane, he says, "We realized that we were surrounded by mighty brands with long histories that we couldn't begin to compete with." So he turned the first floor into a bar and nightclub with a tweaked pub-meets-gulag style and consistently great DJ's. Gucci and Burberry may be more established boutiques, but they don't have a scrum of hip Muscovites straining at a velvet rope outside the door every night.
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