Feminism made a cameo at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, but not in the form of the slogan tees seen so often on the runways in New York last month. Instead, designers focused on the idea of strong women without spelling it out. Beso Turazashvili of the label Portnoy Beso took inspiration from his mother. “I was raised by a really strong woman who is my mom. She doesn't call herself ‘feminist,’ but I guess that is how people would describe her,” Turazashvili said backstage. “She doesn’t like using that word, not because she doesn’t like what it means but because she thinks being strong is normal.” Turazashvili highlighted his sexy nightclub looks with more masculine cuts.

Designer Yasya Minochkina, who featured Instagram It girls on her runway, riffed on the views shared by many women in the post-Soviet Union. “I made evening dresses the main accent of the collection,” wrote Minochkina. “There's nothing complicated about it. I just think a gorgeous dress can make my women achieve anything they want. We all should be feminists but it doesn’t mean we should be untidy girls in untidy clothes shouting how disrespectful males are.”

The second and third waves of feminism that the United States experienced in the 1970s and ’90s never hit Russia, meaning women’s rights and demands for equality have not been as actively discussed in the public arena. As recently as 2013, the Russian Orthodox church, which has powerful ties with the Kremlin, said that “this phenomenon called feminism very dangerous,”. If Pussy Riot, Russia’s feminist punk protest group, has had an effect on today’s designers, it’s mostly with young, underground labels, such as Narvskaya Dostava, and the up-and-coming Georgian Nina Macharashvili of Mach & Mach. Macharashvili gave her collection the name Girls Democracy and designed highlighter pink and yellow power suits, as well as a hoodie with Girls Doing Whatever They Wantprinted on the front and a robe coat with Private Zone written on the chest. “She‘s the girl without borders, she‘s free and she‘s strong,” said Macharashvili. “She does everything she wants.” I like the sound of that.Read more at:short formal dresses