Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin yesterday took a break from running the country to unveil his new ‘Sovereign Democracy’ winter knitwear range. The collection, exclusively designed by the former President and promoted under the banner ‘warm, manly and timelessly appealing’, responds to the market’s need for clothing that ‘elegantly combines cosmopolitan style with rugged outdoor performance’. Russian state television has been quick to hail the collection as ‘perhaps the greatest union yet of politics and fashion.’
The collection is in two parts and includes the ‘Comrade’ and ‘Traitor’ ranges. The ‘Comrade’ range comprises a number of attractive cable and Aran sweaters featuring bullet-proof torso sections, removable sleeves to ensure no restriction of movement should the wearer engage in impromptu arm wrestling, and twenty-six separate pockets for storing anything from flasks of vodka to small quantities of radioactive material. All the knitwear has been specially produced with anti-extradition ‘Lugovoi’ micro-fibres which prevent the wearer having to face charges overseas for crimes that they may or may not have committed.
The ‘Traitor’ range meanwhile is deliberately less high-end. It contains hole-less balaclavas for impaired vision, a scarf designed to be worn over the mouth in public forums, and a host of jumpers and trousers in day-glo colours to ensure visibility in even the most extreme pursuit conditions. The first customers were yesterday surprised to find that the security tags on their clothes were not removed at the checkout, and that although no store alarms sounded as they left, a TV license enforcement van followed them slowly home at a discreet distance.
The brochure features a number of images of Putin modelling his own creations. In one shot he stands proudly over the corpse of a large bear wearing a tasteful mauve jumper bearing the logo ‘Don’t mess – Ex-KGB’; in another he models knitted camouflage trousers and is naked from the waist up, the view of his washboard stomach unimpeded by a jumper draped casually over his shoulders.
Fashion journalists have praised Putin for his modern interpretation of traditional styles, with many arguing that his combat-wear exceeds all past attempts to strike a balance between the insulation people expect from traditional knitwear and the flexibility needed for free-moving one-on-one combat. Despite rumblings from some quarters that the underwear in the collection offered warmth and chafing in equal measures, the army and FSB have nevertheless placed significant orders with suppliers in contracts whose terms cannot be disclosed on grounds of commercial sensitivity.
2nd January 2009