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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rethinking Fur

Soft, fluffy, warm. But fur is much more, five of Russia's top designers found after doing a stint in Copenhagen at one of the world's largest fur companies, Saga Furs of Scandinavia.

The company, which groups fur producers from Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway, invited Yulia Dalakyan, Viktoria Andriyanova, Tatyana Kotegova, Igor Chapurin, Liliya Kisilenko and Alisher to its center earlier this year for a five-day crash course in the ABCs of fur.

Then, inspired with all things fur, the designers created small, six-piece collections with fur used as a decoration, which were unveiled at a show earlier this month at the Norwegian Embassy in Moscow.

Saga Furs representative Mads Gyldenberg, who said the company specifically chose those Russian designers because they were working with other fabrics, expressed his pleasure with the collections at the unveiling.

"The untraditional and fresh approach [the designers] have shown is exactly what the company wanted to see as a result," he said.

Norweigian Ambassador Per Tresselt, who kicked off the show with champagne and Norwegian caviar, toasted the collections as having "many different approaches and styles, a lot of imagination and innovation ... in making fur fit with Russian beautiful models."

Among the eye-catchers was a line of light summer dresses created with white transparent fabric lined by thin frills of platinum fox fur, presented by a proud Yulia Dalakyan.

"Fur is usually associated with pathos and expense and sometimes makes a heavy impression," she said. "I wanted to deprive fur of this prerogative, and [present it] as a decoration rather than as a fabric texture."

Fellow designer Liliya Kisilenko said she also considered fur to be a "bourgeois fabric," adding that it is much more interesting to use as a decoration than in a fur coat. She decorated white poplin with mink fur sleeves.

Igor Chapurin, who was named best designer during High-Fashion week in Moscow last year, put together sets of pants and low-necked dresses with silver fox fur.

Viktoria Andriyanova used mink fur to accent details in cut collars and frills. "Before Copenhagen, I was using fur in a traditional way as a unit piece. Now I am cutting it as I want," she says.

Although Andriyanova enthusiastically jumped at the Saga Furs invitation, she says the role of a pupil irritated her a bit since she wanted to draw up ideas rather than concentrate on the technological side of furs.

Tatyana Kotegova, a designer from St. Petersburg, felt just the opposite way.

"I want to be taught something new every day for the rest of my life," she says.

She showed off a collection of black dresses with tippets of black fox and white ermine.

Renowned pop singer Irina Ponarovskaya tried on a dress with a white ermine tippet right after the show and exclaimed her delight with the perfect fit.

"I was always dressed in Russian designers' best exclusive models and started to wear Kotegova's and Kisilenko's garments six years ago," she says. "When I was browsing through high-fashion boutiques in Paris, boutique staff would ask me who designed my dresses. They were surprised to learn that the makers were Russian designers from [leading clothing factory] Nevskaya Manufacture."

Designer Alisher was not in Moscow to present his models, but photographs on display showed that he created nylon pants and coats with red fox as a decoration.

Saga Furs has flirted with Russian fashion for several years: In 1997 the company held a contest among young designers and last year invited prominent Soviet designer Slava Zaitsev to Copenhagen.

Gyldenberg says such events were part of Saga Furs's strategy "to demonstrate all over the world the unlimited possibilities of fur."

To that end, the 45-year-old Saga Furs of Scandinavia is promoting mink and fox fur to designers the world over. The company is especially proud of its work with such well-known fashion houses as Fendi, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Gucci.

A visit to Copenhagen similar to that of the five Russian designers is what inspired Gucci designer Tom Ford to create his trendy autumn-winter 2000 collection of furs coats and jeans with fur decoration, Gyldenberg says.