Amidst the broadly conservative landscape engendered by Russian menswear designers, by individual male consumers’ sobering habits and by society’s general lack of appreciation for sartorial innovation, Leonid Alexeev’s skills and talent undoubtedly deserve a brighter spotlight not only in Russia but also worldwide. The contemporary silhouettes and playful details that the young Saint Petersburg-based designer used throughout his Spring/Summer 2014 menswear collection (presented during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia on 27 October 2013) confirmed that his talent deserves closer investigation and recognition, and that his promising career is certainly one to watch for.
For his latest menswear offering, Alexeev adopted contemporary design touches and trends that have been popular over the last few seasons with many other labels (such as Kris Van Assche, Kenzo and Valentino, to name a few). These included granddad collar shirts, bib shirts, knee-length shorts, camouflage prints and a sharp urban silhouette inspired by military and street wear. However, what made Alexeev’s collection refreshing not just within the lexicon of Russian menswear but as part of a global men’ fashion discourse was the introduction of a soothingly sophisticated palette of browns, blues and reds used across accomplished garments such as sailor pants (reinterpreted by carefully balancing the width of the flares), trousers with wide waist lines that became pleated by tied drawstrings, slightly cropped blousons with rounded shoulder lines that accentuated the body’s proportions, double-breasted military overcoats with fitted torsos that created X-shaped contours, and alluring prints that could be found on shirts and almost hidden on the inside of suit lapels.
Unlike most of his counterparts, Leonid Alexeev started carving his career in fashion not by studying it but by working for a Russian suit manufacturer. He went on to further hone his skills by becoming directly involved with all stages of the fashion industry and in 2002 he participated in Saint Petersburg Fashion Week with his own label, a move that eventually led to the founding of his studio in 2004. He eventually pursued academic training by enrolling in the BA course in Fashion Design Menswear from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. After graduating in 2007, Alexeev returned to Saint Petersburg and started developing projects in collaboration with artists while creating costumes for theatre plays and working on his men’s and women’s wear collections. His growing success was recognised by Russian GQ magazine in 2009 with the Designer of the Year award, and in October 2011 he inaugurated his flagship store in Saint Petersburg.