Anna Chapman, once spy, now fashion designer. Her latest venture is no surprise given that she totally nailed the Bond spy-girl selfie thing back in summer 2010, which revealed she was au fait with a certain type of hackneyed fashion shoot. And since being deported she hasn’t exactly been publicity shy – a key ingredient for a celebrity-fronted fashion line, as the Kardashians will testify.
No, the biggest shock here is that Anna Chapman’s dresses are actually quite good. The long hemlines, high necklines yet bare arms recall the “modern modesty” look that labels such as Valentino and Alessandra Rich routinely riff on and that has found favour on the red carpet with the likes of Alexa Chung, Rosario Dawson and even Samantha Cameron.
It is a stretch to see the latter in Chapman’s Tsarist, part-Russian, part-modern collection from a political point of view, but aesthetically Cameron could easily do the blue printed number with the deep Karl Lagerfeld-esque collars, no?
There’s a certain enforced demureness that works. As does the unexpected and possibly subconscious reference to those Home and Away school uniforms from the late 80s.
But I’m not sure Chapman’s label will make it to a second collection. I can’t shake the suspicion that she’s thrown all her fashion references into one modern Tsarist basket here. The news that her handbags feature the covers of Russian literary and revolutionary classics only adds to this theory (although it does sound a teensy bit Anya Hindmarch too).
The main problem is that Chapman is no stylist. Her adding of a contrast belt to the dress she is modelling sounds the loudest bum note.
If she wants to steer chic twentysomething Muscovites away from Zara, she will need to exercise more restraint on the accessories front.