Our new fashion expert – Ekaterina Moiseeva. This fragile charming woman is one of the most influential people in the Russian fashion business. She is responsible for the purchase of all Bosco di Ciliegi brand collections, some of which are sold in the legendary GUM, the country’s main department store.
– Ekaterina, it’s no secret that you are on friendly terms with many stars. When you buy the next collection, you already assume: this dress will fit Ingeborg Dapkunaitecoat – Oleg Menshikov?
– Of course. By the way, Ingeborg has not only a special taste and preferences, but also one important feature – she has the smallest clothing size, the 34th. I know very well those brands that she loves – “Jil Sander”, “MaxMara”. She likes pure colors, laconic design without unnecessary decor. Therefore, we always have things of these brands of a size suitable for Dapkunaite. We also know the taste of Oleg Menshikov, we understand what he might like. So, even if Oleg Evgenievich suddenly appears, we will always have something to offer him. Many TV presenters also dress in GUM: Arina Sharapova, Larisa Guzeeva. And that’s great. Clients often come to us and say: I want a blouse like Larisa’s in “Let’s Get Married!”. You understand that we cannot forget about our stars during purchases.
How did you get into the fashion business? Have you ever thought that you will connect your life with fashion?
– At the age of ten or eleven, every girl probably dreams of becoming a ballerina or an artist. Despite the fact that my mother is a doctor and my father is an engineer, I dreamed of performing in the operetta theater, studied music, sang and danced. She also loved dressing up. I remember, as a child, I lived for a long time with my grandmother in the south. And when she left for work, I climbed into her closet. There hung brocade, at that time chic skirts, jackets, I put it all on and went out into the yard. It seemed to me that my girlfriends should have fainted from my beauty … As a result, I did not become an artist. When I was in high school, I listened to the advice of my parents and went to a special school at the Mendeleev Chemical-Technological Institute. Moreover, dad kept repeating: “You must get a decent profession, become an engineer.” And I decided: I’ll go to the Chemical Technology Institute for now, and then we’ll see. I passed the exams and got into a serious technical university.
– And there you met your future husband?
— Yes, he studied two years older. There was a wonderful propaganda team at our institute, where I was able to realize all my acting abilities. I don’t even know how we managed to study, because we constantly traveled somewhere to perform. Now to Leningrad, then to Tallinn. And the leader of our propaganda team was my future husband Mikhail Kusnirovich. Actually, he called me there when he saw our rehearsals before the Miss Freshman contest – the girls and I were strumming the guitar between two laboratories in inorganic chemistry. Our life at the Institute was extremely interesting, fun and exciting. And six years of training flew by quickly. And then perestroika began, new opportunities appeared, and my husband took advantage of them. He has always had an entrepreneurial flair…
Back in Soviet times, Mikhail worked as a janitor at the Bolshoi Theater. And he took his girls to ballets and operas, including me. He got freebies, I put on a blue dress, and we solemnly went first to the magical buffet of the Bolshoi Theater, where they sold delicious cakes. I remember entering the building, and the administrator met me: “Kusnirovich, why hasn’t your site been cleared? It’s snowing, get to work now! And Mikhail in a suit and tie quickly grabs a shovel and cleans the snow. And I’m waiting for him near the third column. Thanks to my husband, I saw all the best that was at the Bolshoi Theater. Then I entered graduate school, and Mikhail organized his own company. He was ready to do everything: tourism, attractions … A variety of activities made it possible to earn some money.
We came to trade and fashion quite by accident. Our carousel partner introduced us to Italian menswear manufacturers. And Michael, another woman who had nothing to do, and I, a graduate student, organized the first showroom. We tried to sell men’s knitwear, but nothing worked. The buyer did not go. And then we agreed to rent a small corner in Petrovsky Passage on the second floor in order to sell this lot and forget about knitwear. And that’s where it started! We bought absolutely everything in one day. And Mikhail urgently sent us to a warehouse in Italy. I remember that these were things of a not very famous brand, but at that time they turned out to be incredibly in demand. In the early 90s, here, on Petrovka, there was one continuous market, people sold what they could.
In the Passage they sold some kind of car tires, coffee pots, meat grinders. But overseas. And our “Made in Italy” sweaters flew apart in an instant. So little by little we started trading. One acquaintance pulled another, third, fourth. First, there were some Italians, then the French, who treated us with complete confidence, which now seems strange to me. Thanks to the gift of persuasion that Mikhail has, they gave us the goods for sale, we did not pay for it in advance. Amazing thing! We also opened the first Mandarina Duck boutique by acquaintance, because one Italian fell passionately in love with my bridesmaid at our wedding with Mikhail! This tall, black-haired handsome man was ready for anything for his girlfriend and flew to Moscow as if to work. He invested in opening a store and we started selling suitcases and bags.
– When was your wedding?
– We got married in 1991, and in 1993 we created our own company, Bosco di Ciliegi. A year later, the Nina Ricci boutique was opened. In my opinion, after Versace on Kuznetsky Most, this was the second boutique of a famous brand in Moscow. And then my real immersion in the world of fashion began. In “Nina Ricci” they began to sew “drenched” sheepskin coats with gold buttons especially for us, which went with a bang in Russia. This French guy who handled our deliveries got madly rich. The first time we visited him in Paris, he drove an old car. The second time, I look, already on a decent car. In the end, he met us in a luxury sports car. In 1995 we opened a Kenzo boutique, and by 1997 we had a whole portfolio of MaxMara, Calvin Klein, Givenchy brands.
– And you came close to GUM?
“There is an interesting story behind this. In 1995, Mikhail Ernestovich met GUM director Stanislav Sorokin. I don’t even remember on what grounds. He had a deputy Vyacheslav Vechkanov, and her husband became friends with him. He showed us the very famous 200th section of GUM, where all the members of the Politburo and their families dressed. It was there that the famous fawn earflaps and astrakhan hats-pies were sold at one time. And now, imagine, after all, my husband has some kind of crazy gift of persuasion: he is a young businessman, his brand “Bosco di Ciliegi” is still unknown to anyone, and we were rented out the 200th section! We made a conceptual renovation for those times, it seemed to us simply fantastic, hired Italian architects, ordered a form for sellers from our suppliers in Florence. And what kind of staff came to work with us! Qualified, educated, knowing languages: engineers with mathematical, physical education, intellectuals. People were ready to do anything to work for a stable salary. We immediately felt the potential of GUM, because it is not just a store, but a showcase for the whole country.
— Symbol, brand, image…
– At that moment, my husband had a dream: to make GUM a center of attraction. So that people come here not only to buy a coat or a suit, but in general to have a good time, eat delicious ice cream, go to the cinema, to the grocery store. Take a look at the exhibition. For example, look at the exposition in honor of the 100th anniversary of the M. Gorky Film Studio. Mikhail Ernestovich is constantly developing this program: in winter he floods the skating rink near GUM, in summer he holds a flower festival …
– In what year did your husband become the owner of GUM?
– In 2005, ten years ago, he became the owner of a controlling stake. A dream came true, which appeared to him immediately, as soon as we entered the 200th section.
– Over these 10 years, your family has become one of the most influential in the fashion business. Now you even make friends at home with the owners of famous brands. For example, with the Etro family.
– In Italy, nepotism has always been strong. If analyzed, many of the most famous brands are successful family businesses. The Etro family is the best example of this. Their dad Gerolamo is the founder of the company. And all four children are in business. Daughter Veronica makes a women’s collection, the middle son Keane – men’s, the youngest son Ippolito is the general director, the elder Jacopo is the creative director. And on the basis of this nepotism, we got together, liked each other, found some common interests. They have a palazzo in the center of Milan, the entire top floor of which is occupied by a large collection of art. What is there: painting, sculpture, antiques, old books. Yes, we are friends at home: they visit us, we visit them. Very interesting, nice, nice people.
– Regarding nepotism … I can not help but ask a question: how do you work with your own husband?
– If you had asked me yesterday, I would have said – wonderful. And this morning they already had a fight. It’s not easy for me. Sometimes you want to quarrel over some simple domestic issue, but I stop myself, because there are always many work issues that need to be addressed. (Laughs.) But there are pluses: after all, even if people live together in marriage and raise children, then at some stage they can still differ in their views on life. They just get bored with each other. A common business and common problems are very uniting, whatever one may say. Michael and I always have a topic for conversation.
– Does your husband interfere in your work as the head of the company? Affects purchases of goods?
I am solely responsible for purchasing. They give me money and say: go spend it. But this is a huge responsibility. All relations with partners, contracts are mine. Naturally, when everything is fine, no one will say a word. And as soon as the situation changes, the husband begins to grumble: “I didn’t buy it.” (Smiling.)
– Are there disputes over some brands? Suppose you like the collection, but your husband does not?
— What more! But we have a rule: if the decision has already been made, then I do not engage in sabotage, I go and carry it out. As they say, clenching your teeth. Still, the authority must not be undermined, we must try to maintain the vertical of power. Without it, nowhere.