MOSCOW, October 30 (Kevin O’Flynn, RIA Novosti) – The clothes on display at a fashion show in Moscow this week were to die for. Literally.
The Necropolis funeral industry expo held at the All-Russia Exhibition Center was organized as a platform to show off high-end burial wear for the recently departed.
As she watched models filing past a row of coffins – one of them rotating on a plinth – Immortality fashion show organizer Eliza Rossar gushed admiringly over the creative use of fabrics.
“Look how the designer uses knitwear, textile and lace. The headgear has local flavor, underlining the mourning mood,” Rossar said. “It is very important that you say goodbye to them with respect.”
A few yards away from the runway, a man showed off his engraving machine by drawing faces on stone, including one of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
The notion of upscale funeral arrangements is tailored to cater to a natural Russian penchant for often garish style that even mortality is seemingly unable to temper.
One coffin-maker displayed a casket covered in crocodile skin and lined in mink fur.
Coffin-maker Inna Kotov told RIA Novosti that a client once ordered a casket for his late wife painted in white and black to honor her love for Dalmatians.
Rossar, a leading proponent of fashion for the dead, kept up a constant patter of commentary as around two dozen models in pale make-up paced up and down the runway at a zombie-like pace.
As Rossar spoke, she kept her stonily impassive Russian toy terrier Leo – short for Leonardo da Vinci – tucked under her arm.
The clothes on the runway had a prevalently Goth feel, but the sheer range of, mainly student, designers ensured diversity.
Black was predictably the dominant shade, but the smorgasbord of dresses, trousers and jewelry came in a variety fitting of the living.
The choice in menswear was more limited and looked in large part like costumes for a new Star trek movie.
The idea of a fashion show for the dead is nothing new for Necropolis. Rossar said she along with other fashion industry insiders have been touting the idea for 13 years.
Rossar said there have already been funerary fashion shows for Muslim and Jews.
Goths got their own show too.
“It was great,” she said. “You know how they relate to the cemetery, to death. It’s a fetish.”
Apparently uneager to wait for death, designer Alexandra Bezrukova was modeling a veil, pale makeup and a Gothic-meets-Steampunk number specially created for her by a friend.
Bezrukova said she was happy to go to the grave in the creation.
“If I need to be [buried], I hope it is in a dress like this,” she said, surprisingly chirpily.
Not everybody seemed as impressed.
“I had mixed feelings,” said 23-year old professional model Yekaterina Sklyarova, a novice to modeling clothes for the deceased.
Sklyarova’s last gig was at this week’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, an event squarely aimed at the non-dead.
Indeed, her preferred funeral arrangements would be likely to test designers at the show.
“I don’t want to be buried. I want my ashes to be scattered on a mountain, a beach, in places that I loved by someone close to me,” Sklyarova said.
None of the clothes were on sale and the fashion show was organized in the hope of tapping into a yet untapped market.
“Fashion awards should have a funeral nomination. I think that is normal,” Rossar said. “It is also part of life.”
Rossar said somebody had been put in charge of lobbying for a nomination in that category.
But they died, she said.