Vintage Moscow

The vintage wave was late in coming to Moscow -- by Russian standards, "Soviet vintage" would have to come from "Bolshevichka" clothing factory and resemble a protective tank tarp, as some fashionistas joke. To diversify mass-produced Soviet clothing and accessories that fill Russian wardrobes, vintage enthusiasts have launched shops stocked with items from European shops and flea markets.

Sometimes the line between vintage and secondhand fashion gets blurry, however. Frik Frak is a chaotic basement venue where garments start at 500 rubles and are often visibly worn are jammed tightly together. All are at least 20 years old and come from Europe, especially London, according to owner Irina Getmanova. If you have the energy for an exhaustive treasure-hunt, Frik Frak often yields funky results that set you apart from the gray winter crowd. It's the perfect store for street-fashion victims with time on their hands.

Vintage Corner at Traffic
Vintage shops feature clothing for those who want to stand out from the crowd.
Trashier vintage clothing is banned from stores like Traffic. There are two branches of Traffic, which brings small British designer labels to Moscow. The vintage section is in the back of the Chistoprudny Bulvar shop. It's very small and mostly consists of girlie skirts and dresses from England, Holland and France. There are several 1960s cuts, lots of velvet, and even an Edwardian black high-collar robe. Prices are much higher than Frik Frak, but most garments are practically new.

Brocade's name hints at its selection, which is mostly classic dresses in rich fabrics. This boutique on Patriarch's Ponds also has gloves, brooches and elegant hats that start at 2,500 rubles. The most valuable items, like beaded handbags, look like antiques and occupy tall glass cabinets.

A few minutes away, there is another store that sells vintage accessories. Reopened at a new location in the center at the end of January, Vintage-X is a small basement nook near the Mayakovskaya metro station (see photo, page 11). Owner Svetlana Khablitskaya collects unusual accessories that are in good condition, like a pendant that holds dried flowers, "so that you walk around smelling nice," or earrings and clip-ons, which start at 300 rubles. There are also nostalgic items, like East German stickers with pictures of pretty girls -- people used to put them on their briefcases.

Igor Tabakov / MT
Accessories, jewelry and nostalgic knick-knacks fill the small Vintage-X shop, recently reopened near Mayakovskaya metro.
Roza Azora gallery feels even more like a museum. It stocks up on Soviet items that predate the 1950s in order to preserve the atmosphere of "Soviet urban culture." The shop is crowded into a stairwell in the back of the "Shon" gallery. There are a few articles of clothing for Lyubov Orlova imitators as well as a variety of accessories, like hats and handbags. Roza Azora is more famous for oddball items, which the gallery gets from Muscovites who bring in unneeded junk. "We don't have space for everything, but we keep a card index of things people have tried to sell to us," says gallery consultant Galina. "Once a theater called us urgently looking for a stuffed alligator, and we managed to find it among our contacts."

Frik Frak
21/1 Ul. Shabolovka, M. Shabolovskaya (926) 250-2133, (495) 164-9108 (answering machine), Open daily 1 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Vintage X
11/13 Tryokhprudny Pereulok, Bldg. 2, M. Mayakovskaya. Enter from Bolshoi Kozikhinsky Pereulok. The store entrance faces the courtyard and had only a "Bytovaya Khimiya" sign on the door at the time of writing. (916) 665-5127, Open 2 p.m.-8 p.m., closed Monday and Tuesday.

8 Bolshoi Patriarshy Pereulok, M. Mayakovskaya. (926) 229-3886, 650-7923 Open daily 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Roza Azora
12a Nikitsky Bulvar, M. ArbatskayaEnter through "Shon" Gallery, 291-4579. Open Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., 2 p.m.-7 p.m.

Vintage Corner at Traffic
21/2 Chistoprudny Bulvar, M. Chistiye Prudy, 621-4859, Open daily, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.