(Left) An early conception of Nikita Chekrygin’s aunt, Lyudmila Dobrohotova. (Right) Ch4rm Spring 2022 shot in Tula, Russia. (Left) Photo: Courtesy Nikita Chekrygin (Right) Photo: Courtesy Marc Ashkame

Designers often cite their own archives as inspiration, reinterpreting their vintage designs or reimagining a familiar silhouette. Nikita Chekrygin from buzzy Russian label Ch4rm is no exception, but he goes even further. For his most recent collection, he referred to the designs of his late aunt, Lyudmila, who created flashy clothes during the unrest in Russia.

When Chekrygin sends me pictures of his aunt’s work from the early 2000s, I almost confuse her designs with Chekrygin’s own work. The cheeky pieces have the same cheekiness as Chekrygin’s: One model wears a deep V-neck to expose as much cleavage as possible, while another wears a full denim look of skinny jeans, exposed underwear and jeans. a short jacket with a ruffled bottom. The maximalist clothing contrasts with the provincial scenes behind the models, as evidenced by a photo of a woman in a miniskirt and underwear displayed outside in the brush among the leaves.

Ch4rm spring 2022 shot in Tula, Russia. Photo: Courtesy of Marc Ashkame
Ch4m spring 2022 shot in Tula, Russia. Photo: Courtesy of Marc Ashkame

Last season, Chekrygin used his aunt as the main inspiration for his collection. In recent years, Chekrygin has made a name for himself with his Y2K-focused designs. His pieces have been worn by Russian IT audiences, including Olga Karput of KM20, as well as Estonian rapper Tommy Cash. Her current Spring 2022 collection, titled “Beauty Shop,” includes denim jeans with a teardrop cutout to reveal a crack in the buttocks and tank tops created from fabric petals.

An early conception of Nikita Chekrygin’s aunt Lyudmila Dobrohotova. Photo: Courtesy of Nikita Chekrygin
An early conception of Nikita Chekrygin’s aunt Lyudmila Dobrohotova. Photo: Courtesy of Nikita Chekrygin

Its main inspiration is Russian culture after the fall of the Soviet Union, when clothing was overdone and excessive, even more so than in other Western countries. Think denim and animal prints all over the place. “In my childhood, fashion was very exciting, everything was very big and theatrical. It was all very hot and flashy, ”he says. “Almost everyone walked in high heels, no reason was necessary. I don’t remember any shoes without heels at all! All schoolgirls, public transport girls, just everything! In the Ch4rm lookbook, male models wear square-toed dress shoes – a Russian staple – and women wear thimble-sized denim skirts.

Ch4rm spring 2022 shot in Tula, Russia. Photo: Courtesy of Marc Ashkame
Photo: Courtesy of Marc Ashkame

Using personal history as a fashion benchmark is sort of a family tradition. Her aunt would return home and to Chekrygin’s hometown of Tula, a small town in western Russia, about 120 miles south of Moscow, to complete her lookbook. “There is no concept of trends there; you don’t know what year it is, ”he says. “It could be 2001.” Like his aunt, Chekrygin makes a point of returning there and photographing his collections, highlighting the dichotomy between his excessive designs and the rough concrete buildings and bucolic fields of the city. “Global trends are taken out of context and mixed with local personal tastes,” Chekrygin explains. “Everything is at the maximum.

An early conception of Nikita Chekrygin’s aunt Lyudmila Dobrohotova. Photo: Courtesy of Nikita Chekrygin

Chekrygin has fond memories of her aunt, remembering her as an eccentric. Once, after her aunt put on a performance, Chekrygin attended the next celebratory dinner. Chekrygin, who was seven at the time, remembers wearing a sheer dress with no underwear. “She swore a lot and her whole body was covered in tattoos. I understood that I had to stay away from her, but I was so drawn to her, ”he says. “We spoke very closely. When I was a teenager, she moved to China and I often came to visit her. While her aunt passed away in 2012, Chekrygin still honors her memory and works with the tailors her aunt has worked with. “She was a little worried that I wanted to be a designer because she thought it was a very difficult path if you were from Russia,” he says. And as Chekrygin’s star is on the rise, there is no doubt that she would be proud.


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