Although everything in Fashion looks like a dream built with macaroons and champagne, running a business in Fashion for 5 years is not a piece of cake. It is with passion and a strong clear vision that 15-year-old Robert Mishchenko established Playing Fashion in March 2008 in Sevastapol, Ukraine.
First hosted on blogspot, Playing Fashion was more than just a blog. The initial concept was very much like the usual magazine – one month, one theme, one cover and different features. Every day the blog was filled with new posts based on the month’s theme. Some memorable issues from this period include the one about Yves Saint Laurent, which came out right after his death in ‘09; as well as The Brothers and Sisters Issue with childhood pictures of models, such as Ekat Kiseleva and Naty Chabenenko. The Editors Issue received immense appraisal. It featured exclusive interviews with influential editors from both Russia and Ukraine, including Miroslava Duma, who then worked at Harper’s Bazaar Russia before her streetstyle fame; Oksana On, then a Fashion Editor, today Fashion Director of Glamour Russia; and Elissey Kostsov, who was Fashion Director of Citizen K Russia. ‘5 years ago, there were not many fashion blogs, and PF obviously did stand out,’ says Svetlana Muller, Playing Fashion veteran and our Moscow Managing Editor. ‘Robert made an impression as someone you can move mountains with. Isn’t it a good reason to try? Every season our features get stronger because our contributors are real professionals with their own ambitions. More to come!’
In 2009, playingfashion.com becomes our home. We are not a blog anymore. We became a real online magazine named ‘first ever successful independent online magazine in Russian’ by L’Officiel Russia. Publishing issues quarterly, we focused on quality. That’s when our first fashion stories began to fill the pages and new wonderful collaborations were being born. We continue to support local visionaries with exclusive interviews with talents from streetstyle star Natalia Goldenberg to designer Ksenia Schnaider (nee Marchenko), who shines gracefully like an ice-cold snow queen on our cover for the Fall ‘09 issue themed ‘Ukraine’. The latter was considered avant-garde of the time, as it was an appreciation of the often overlooked local Fashion industry. The first issue featured model Naty Chabanenko, who only 2 months ago opened the Prada Spring/Summer ‘09 show in Milan, and includes a huge portfolio of Naty’s private photos that shows the strong face from a new perspective. ‘I don`t remember how I felt seeing my first cover,’ recalls Ksenia, ‘I just remember that crazy night we did the shoot near a broken advertising board with lots of lights... I feel a kind of nostalgia right now. It was such a warm summer night in Kyiv. We were walking from Robert`s apartment and taking pictures with Vasilina (Vrublevskaya), I felt like we were just walking without any reason but the result of that walk was a great portrait picture. I love Robert and his team, it`s always fun to work with them!’
The first print issue hit the newsstands late October ‘09 – at the peak of the recession and only few months after we moved our creative head quarters to the busy Ukrainian capital. The reception was hysterical. Kyiv never saw a magazine of this kind. It is this positive response that secures our decision to enter the realm of printed magazines despite the challenges posed by the economic uncertainty. For this issue, cover girl Nataliya Piro and Viktoriya Sasonkina were photographed by Vasilina Vrublevskaya in Odessa, listening to The Gossip, and enjoying eating the Editor’s birthday cake between looks. Vasilina’s unique vision added an edge to the magazine cementing the extraordinary image of the magazine in readers’ hearts. During this era, a variety of stars graced our covers: from Ukrainian model Aliona Osmanova to the most-sought after model of today Daria Strokous to socialite-model Poppy Delevingne. Furthermore, we worked closely with contemporary artists to produce a modern and edgy publication.
Russian was the only written language until 2011, when the first bilingual issue came out. It was a commemorating moment. Written now in both Russian and English, the magazine is sold in 4 cities all over the world - Moscow, St. Petersburg, London and New York – with 4 fantastic covers and editorials starring Anaïs Pouliot, Denisa Dvořáková, Giedrė Dukauskaitė and Olga Sherer. ‘Being asked to shoot the cover and collections story for Playing Fashion was a wonderful and exciting challenge,’ says photographer Emma Tempest. ‘Some very memorable moments include the sun still shining in New York City whilst shooting S/S in late November! The wonderful British weather deciding to lay down 8 inches of snow for us the day before our outdoor location shoot.’ Since then, we continue to cultivate fashion forward content based on insightful themes, and introducing readers to pioneering personalities from Eddie Borgo and Eric Guillemain to Joseph Altuzarra and Marcelo Burlon. Themes include: The ‘Legends, Icons, Muses’ Issue - fronted by model veteran Jacquetta Wheeler; The ‘Men’ Issue with Sean O’Pry; The ‘Identity’ Issue with Andrej Pejic; and above all, The ‘Ukraine’ Issue with Alla Kostromicheva.
The content we produced is not all that matters in the history of Playing Fashion, but also the long and lasting work relationships we have developed with a small army of creative talents, who are taking huge steps to the top. We love to see how our contributors and heroes grow up, like Miroslava Duma, Emma Tempest, Sasha Luss, or any other name in Playing Fashion. We are lucky to have been granted many opportunities to do what we really love for the past 5 years by the side of creative and supportive talents, and we are thrilled to see what the future holds for us. Stay tuned!
Cover Image: Model Giedre Dukaustaite photographed by Emma Tempest for Playing Fashion March 2011 issue.