MOSCOW (AFP): A Russian clothes brand held a fashion show this week honouring long-time leader President Vladimir Putin by embellishing his face on Andy Warhol-inspired sweaters, in what one nationalist news outlet called an “unusual” display.
Since Russia launched full-scale hostilities against Ukraine last year, Putin’s cult of personality has burst into the mainstream, with officials effusively heaping praise on the president.
The fashion show, held late on Thursday, took place in Putin’s native Saint Petersburg and showcased art by Alexey Sergienko, a self-proclaimed patriot whose collection of paintings “The President is a Kindhearted Man” formed the basis for the designs.
“I was impressed when he was re-elected,” Sergienko told AFP, standing in front of his piece “Putin, Star, Crown” — a kaleidoscopic grid of Putins interspaced with stars and crowns.
“The crown is a reference to the past, and it’s also an allusion to the fact that I knew that the president would be elected again and again,” he said.
“I painted this picture saying that we shall have Putin for a long time, forever,” he told AFP.
Many of his works are reminiscent of American artist Andy Warhol, whose vibrant paintings of celebrities and everyday objects popularised the “pop art” movement of the late 1950s to 1960s.
The event, which the ultra-nationalist television channel Tsargrad described in a report as “unusual”, featured a catwalk of models wearing a range of Putin-themed jackets, t-shirts and neck-scarves.
“We came to the show as a whole family,” 48-year-old visitor Andrey Nechaev told AFP.
“We are very happy to be here,” he added.
The Kremlin’s desire to galvanise support for Putin and the conflict in Ukraine has touched on almost every aspect of life, including music and the arts.
On Friday, Russia’s government appointed controversial Putin-ally Valery Gergiev as maestro of the world famous Bolshoi Theatre, drawing ire from foreign musicians.
Many prominent cultural figures left Russia in the wake of the assault, including bestselling author Dmitry Glukhovsky and popular singer Zemfira.