Luxury Society presents a round up of Russian luxury brands, including Fabergé Fine Jewellery, Imperia Vodka, Helen Yarmak Fur & Gresso Luxury Mobile Phones
Compiling this list raised many issues surrounding the idea of provenance. Specifically the elements that define a French, Italian, British – or indeed a Russian – luxury brand. Historically provenance was a simplistic concept, defined by where products were conceived, designed and produced, often in areas known for particular saviour fare or access to the highest quality materials.
But in a globalised modern world, this idea has become inherently more complex. As luxury manufacturers seek out global best practices, technology and know-how, should provenance be defined by the origins of the brand? Or the origins of its founder? Where it hosts its headquarters? Or where it manufactures its products?
Brands like Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Giorgio Armani continue to aggressively market themselves as British, French and Italian brands respectively, despite the fact that none of these brands exclusively manufacture in home territories. Yet the geographic associations are as longstanding as they are undeniable.
In investigating Russian luxury brands, we found the same to be true. Many entrepreneurs have adopted London, Paris and New York as the epicentre for their brands, but continue to evoke the old-world opulence of the Tsars with their products and communications.
There is something inherently ‘Russian’ about each of them, but as players in the modern luxury landscape, that doesn’t always mean diamonds, vodka and fur. Here we provide a selection of key Russian luxury brands, but invite you to explore the Luxury Society directory to learn more.
Alena Akhmadullina, graduate of Russia’s Technology and Design Academy, is a fashion designer from Saint Petersburg. Her eponymous brand has been showing ready-to-wear at Paris Fashion Week since autumn 2005, and opened an office in Moscow in 2007, followed by a concept store in 2008 also in Moscow, on Nikolskaya Street.
Alena Gorchakova is a Moscow-born jewellery designer and entrepreneur. She began her career in New York City in the 1980’s, where she studied at NYU and went on to design window displays for Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel and Hermès. On returning to Russia in 1990, she became the local distributor for brands such as S.T. Dupont, Chopard, Breguet and JLC.
In 2010 she launched her eponymous fine jewellery brand, which draws heavily on the soul of art, architecture and essence of Russian culture, resplendent with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, garnets and pearls, crafted in exquisite details by artisans in Geneva, Switzerland. Her first flagship boutique opened on Moscow’s Red Square.
Beluga Vodka is produced by JSC “Synergy”, at one of Russia’s leading alcohol production facilities founded in 1900, the Mariinsky Distillery. Blended from grains grown in the plains of Siberia, with silver purified water, the brand produces five distinct vodka’s, each paying tribute to the foundations of the brand – Polo, Transatlantic Racing, Art, Charity and Gastronomy.
Chapurin began as a haute couture house established by Igor Chapurin in 1998, becoming the first Russian brand to show on the Parisian calendar in 2005. Chapurin has since expanded to include seasonal prêt-a-porter, capsule collections and alpine skiwear, alongside accessories and jewellery and a Moscow boutique.
In 2003 the brand launched Chapurincasa, a line of furniture and homewares celebrating interior and industrial design, as well as Chapurinbar & Restaurant in Moscow.
Inspired by a passion for precious stones, Ilya Klyuev launched jewellery house Cluev, producing one-of-a-kind pieces in Swiss and Italian workshops. The brand has gone on to produce sterling silver signature collections, sophisticated crystal objects and interior pieces, with precious stones and materials identified and certified by experts at the world’s famous gemmological institutes.
Perhaps the most iconic of all Russian luxury brands, Peter Carl Fabergé was a Russian jeweller in the late 1800’s, who became best known for his Fabergé Easter eggs realised in previous metals and gemstones. After touring Europe and studying at Schloss’s Commercial College in Paris, Fabgeré returned to St. Petersburg and went on to launch the iconic jewellery house.
The iconic Easter Eggs were born when the Tsar commissioned the jeweller to make an Easter egg as a gift for his wife in 1885, which he continued to do until the October Revolution.
Until recently the brand was owned by Pallinghurst Resources LLP, an investment advisory firm based in London, which began the process of ‘restoring Fabergé to its rightful position as the leading purveyor of enduring and endearing personal possessions.’ The brand was then acquired by London based mining company Gemfields, in a deal worth $140 million, in November 2012.
Katia and Sonia Gaydamak, two Russian-born, Parisian-based designers that share a passion for fine jewellery, launched Gaydamak Jewellery. Katia studied International Politics at the American University of Paris, but went on to work with Daniel K and Jacob & Co. in New York City, where she decided to become a designer.
Her sister Sonia, eager about diamonds and gemmology, educated in Paris and New York, manages the business aspects of that edifying creation. Their designs can be found in iconic stores such as Luisia Via Roma and Montaigne Market.
Gresso is a Russian electronics manufacturer, best known for its million-dollar feature phones, flash drives and smartphone cases in titanium and gold. In 2007 it launched its first luxury communication device – the Avantgarde mobile phone – made of 200 year-old African Blackwood and a keyboard of Roman numerals. Almost instantaneously it ranked among the top 10 most expensive mobile phones in the world according to Forbes.
Most recently it launched the Regal Titanium handset, limited to 333 pieces, retailing for a cool $4,500, where one individual craftsman assembles each handset.
Helen Yarmak is the Kiev-born founder and designer of the Helen Yarmak fashion house, which launched in Moscow in 1995. A mathematician by training, Helen Yarmak is now better known for her luxurious collections of fur, jewellery and crocodile accessories, with stores in Moscow, Milan, Zurich, Odessa and Kiev.
Most recently the brand launched its newest signature boutique within the famed Plaza Hotel in New York City Helen Yarmak’s furs have been featured in both Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada.
Imperia Vodka is the luxury offering from Russian Standard, self-described as the ‘ultimate distillation of years of experience and vodka science’. Using ultra pure soft waters from the north, a rigorous eight-times distillation process and an exclusive crystal quartz filtration, Imperia is an exceptionally clear, velvety-smooth, luxurious spirit made in Russia.
Founded in 2007 by former racing driver Nikolay Fomenko, brand strategist Efim Ostrovsky and technology entrepreneur Andrey Cheglakov, Marussia Motors is Russia’s first high-performance car company. Its first design – the mid-engine B1 – debuted in Moscow in 2008, followed by the launch of the Marussia B2 at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in 2009.
Marussia became the first Russian car brand to enter the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship, in partnership with Virgin Racing F1, which went on to acquire a majority stake in the team – now called Marussia Virgin F1.
SuperJet International is a joint venture between Russian aviation company Sukhoi Holdings and Alenia Aermacchi, a member of Italian aviation group Finmeccanica. The organisation is dedicated to marketing, selling and supporting the Sukhoi Superjet 100, a fly-by-wire regional jet in the 75 to 95-seat category. The jet is designed to compete internationally with its An-148, Embraer and Bombardier counterparts, with a purchase price of approximately $35 million.
Timmerman Yachts celebrates the 17th century introduction of Dutch boat building methods to Russia by Franz Timmerman. Timmerman is said to have convinced Peter the First of the importance and charm of maritime affairs when he constructed fleets of both naval and trading vessels.
Timmerman Yachts is a joint project by leading contemporary Russian and Dutch yacht builders that includes Vripack Yachting Int’l, Guide de Groot Design, Ginton Naval Architects in Holland and Moscow Shipyard in Russia, where more than 1000 people who studied in Holland now work.
Valentin Yudashkin was launched in 1987 in Moscow by the fashion designer of the same name. In 1991 his collection was launched in Paris, followed by the opening of his Moscow boutique in 1997. Since his launch over twenty years ago, the designer has added jewellery and perfume lines in partnership with France’s Parour.
As a member of the Syndicate of High Fashion in Paris, twice a year, the Valentin Yudashkin Fashion House presents its haute-couture collection in Paris, and participates in Russian High Fashion week in Moscow. The designer has plans to open both a Fashion Academy and museum of costumes in Moscow.
To further investigate the Russian luxury market on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows: