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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Teen Queen of Fashion

Kira Plastinina wants to be taken seriously.

  By many measures, she already has a highly successful career. She is the chief designer for a rapidly growing chain of clothing stores aimed at teenage girls. The first Kira Plastinina shop opened at Moscow's Yevropeisky mall in February, and the chain now has 28 locations throughout Russia, with a dozen more slated to open by the end of the year.

The problem, perhaps, is that Plastinina is only 15 years old.

Many have grumbled that Plastinina -- who is touted as the world's youngest fashion designer -- only made it because her father, Sergei Plastinin, is the millionaire co-founder of Wimm-Bill-Dann, Russia's largest dairy and juice producer.

In a recent interview at her company's headquarters near Paveletskaya metro station, Plastinina admitted that her father's wealth had made the stores possible, but stressed that she wasn't just a rich girl looking for attention.

"It's not like I just went to my dad and said, 'I want a store,' and he gave me a store with my name on it and I don't do anything," said Plastinina, who was dressed in a pink and purple top and had a deep summer tan.

"I'm always coming to work, and my thoughts are constantly absorbed in work. I always think about work, day and night. Sometimes I even draw designs in school."

Plastinina, a 10th-grader at the Anglo-American School in Moscow, said she hoped to continue her studies at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, a London institution that has produced such fashion gurus as John Galliano and Hedi Slimane, who both led divisions of Christian Dior before starting their own labels.

Some contributors to Internet forums have suggested that Plastinina could follow the path of Ksenia Sobchak or the singer Alsu, whose powerful fathers gave them a springboard into pop-culture stardom.

But Plastinina firmly rejected that idea. "Well, I can't sing, so I won't become a singer," she said with a laugh. "But really, no, I want people to perceive me as a designer, and not just as a creative person who drifts from one thing to another."

Still, Plastinina is poised to become a familiar face in Russian television. This season, she is the official designer for "Star Factory," the Channel One talent show where would-be pop singers compete for stardom, much like in the popular U.S. show "American Idol."

Igor Tabakov / MT
Kira Plastinina at her company headquarters. She said she ran the creative side of the business and drew most of the designs.
Even as a small child, Plastinina said, she had aspirations of being a fashion designer. "As far back as I can remember, I was always drawing things, either clothing or horses," she recalled. "But mostly clothing."

Her father took notice. Plastinin, who quit his job as CEO of Wimm-Bill-Dann last year to focus on other assets, came up with the Kira Plastinina brand and made his daughter the chief designer. Now he manages the company's commercial side while Plastinina runs the creative side.

Plastinin invested $100 million in Kira Plastinina and another clothing retailer called Taxi, a spokeswoman for the company said, although she could not provide figures for how the money was split between the two chains. About 175 people work in the Kira Plastinina headquarters, while an additional 250 work in various stores.

Although it has been rumored that she only plays a figurehead role, Plastinina said she was truly in charge and ultimately responsible for the company's designs. "We have a very friendly team and we all work together," she said, "but I come up with most of the ideas and I draw the models."

The result is a broad assortment of teen-oriented clothes, shoes and accessories that are playful and unabashedly girly. Common touches include hearts and frills, not to mention the liberal use of pink and purple.

Plastinina, who cites Japanese manga comics as one source of inspiration, describes her style as "art-glamour-sportive-casual" on the store's web site.

While the items on sale at Kira Plastinina are not for bargain hunters, they lack the stratospheric price tags seen at many high-end Moscow boutiques. A typical blouse goes for 1,949 rubles, or about $75, according to the web site.

So is Plastinina the future of Russian fashion?

"I think she has excellent, very cheerful clothes for teenage girls, and they are fairly high-quality," Alisa Dmitriyenko, a stylist for Glamour magazine, said in a telephone interview.

She added that Plastinina was well positioned to take on foreign brands.

"She has become a competitor to certain brands we have now, like Topshop and Naf Naf," Dmitriyenko said. "She competes with them specifically as a Russian designer. And that's becoming fashionable now."