Alla Verber would have turned 62 today, recall her interview with Vogue 2018.
In an office overlooking the Kremlin, fashion director of TSUM and vice-president of Mercury, Alla Verber, answering the question “What to wear this spring?” Casually throws her legs in black Balenciaga boots on a cloth-covered table: “Look what I put on at your age! I bought the same red and purple ones. Until I decided to go out in them. The 1980s returned to fashion, and I temporarily abandoned the classics. Now I’m obsessed with Demna Gvasalia, Balmain, Stella McCartney. I want to be young! ” Alla Verber has been at the helm of TSUM for fifteen years and is proud of her successes: “In the early 2000s, everything was sold here – from pens to fur coats, it was not clear what kind of place it was. For three years we have been fighting a war to bring the top brands here. Now all the major brands are sold at TSUM at Milanese prices: Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Gucci, Valentino.
They make exclusive things for us: in March, for example, only we will be selling the classic black Dolce & Gabbana coat with fox fur trim and leopard lining. The best photographers in the world shoot campaigns for us, this year it’s Peter Lindbergh. We host the most fashionable parties – from Vogue Fashion’s Night Out to the show of Alexander Terekhov. We practically own the fashion industry. ” How she managed to conquer the fashion business and what she expects in the future, Alla Verber told Vogue.
I was born in Leningrad, on Teatralnaya Square. From the window of my office in TSUM, you can also see the Theater Square in front of the Bolshoi Theater. So don’t believe in fate. As a schoolgirl with my parents, I went to the Mariinsky Theater and the Conservatory twice a week. On the way out, I bought a crimplen suit in the spirit of Dior: a square jacket that did not paint me, a skirt, patent leather shoes and a heavy mink coat, as in “Beauty of the Day” with Catherine Deneuve. But there was also a night one: if the parents were not around, a turtleneck, jeans or a leather skirt, stocking boots, a sheepskin coat, like from the movie “Man and Woman”, and a huge hat with earflaps were removed from the closet. I also had white and red shoes, the same ones made by Gucci now. Looking at new collections, every now and then I catch myself thinking that I have already worn a Saint Laurent suit, a Versace leather jacket, and Balmain jeans. But in the 1970s and 1980s, everyone dressed the same, and now there is no one main style. Everyone wears what is right for him.
The steel was tempered
I am the second daughter in the family, my dad wanted a son, he even gave me a name before my birth – Alyosha, in honor of Batalov’s hero from the movie “My Dear Man”. But I was born, they named me Alla in honor of the actress Alla Konstantinovna Tarasova, since dad was also Konstantin and was friends with her. Before school, my family name was Alyosha and they taught me not to be afraid of anything. At the age of sixteen in St. Petersburg I already drove a car, and at eighteen in Montreal in the icy conditions I was driving with my dad, suddenly he says: “Okay, bye, I have to go to work” – and runs away, and I am left alone on the highway. Since then I have overcome any fear: I am afraid of heights – I jump with a parachute, I am afraid to make a mistake – I take risks. At twenty-nine, I, a young mother, opened my store in Toronto with my last parent’s money and was successful! The second habit that I was taught is to develop: music, ballet, mathematics, literature. And now I am learning and trying to keep up with young people. And the third quality is the ability to communicate. I find contact with any interlocutor. If the president is next to me, I can easily find a common language with him.
In 1976 I emigrated to Rome. I was wearing a black leather coat with a silver fox collar, and fox skins were sewn from knee to ankle. Four more fox skins were thrown on top of me, sewing them on with black threads just in case. The parents said: “You will sell them later and you will live on it.” And so these skins have been hanging for forty years. And after three months in Rome, I went to work in a boutique next to the Excelsior Hotel on Via Veneto. I didn’t know Italian, but I looked like an Italian with a Russian braid below the waist and was ready to work like a damn. First she laid out things, then she began to sell. I took the Russians shopping. So, after graduating from a medical school in Leningrad, I have been engaged in luxury fashion all my life. After moving to Canada, I studied management for two years at McGuill University of Montreal, and then opened my own store in Toronto with my one-year-old daughter in my arms. Then no one bothered with shop windows, and I bought four mannequins and regularly changed their wigs and outfits. A couple of days before the opening, the manager of the Armani store walked by, saw how I was fiddling with the windows, and said: “It looks like this will be the most fashionable boutique in the city.
Living on the net
Today, twenty percent of TSUM’s sales are made through the website. Life has changed: when we opened the first store of Trade House “Moskva”, the needs of the buyer were different: brighter things, shoes were sold only with high heels. The time was then – Versace fashion. By the way, now the era of Versace is back: Donatella made a show with Gianni’s muses and the main clothing models from the 1980s. And today Russians are one of the most fashionable in the world. Our women sit in the first rows and are the decoration of the show. An online store is convenient: in a couple of hours, lying on the couch, you can explore everything there is in TSUM. Meanwhile, it is simply impossible to come and see the whole store in reality. I myself love to shop on the site. But the shops will not disappear. They have a special atmosphere, communication, smells of perfume, music, meetings with designers, parties, cafes – life is in full swing there. I think that over time, fast fashion will go to the Internet, but luxury brands are still more pleasant to buy offline, when you can touch the fabrics, measure everything, carefully examine.
Blog with you
Before, everyone watched what the stars put on the Oscars or Grammys. And for the brand, hitting the red carpet was a victory. And now it girls with a million followers on Instagram are becoming symbols of the brand. Vika Gazinskaya and Ulyana Sergeenko are ideal ambassadors for their brands. And Sofia Loren and Monica Bellucci are Dolce & Gabbana! I am proud of the Russians who promote our designers in the world, like Natasha Vodianova, Miroslava Duma, Yana Rudkovskaya, Lena Perminova. It’s a pity there was no instagram in my youth. I would not sleep at night, if only I would dress up and take pictures!
After the show, I always find time to go backstage and congratulate the designers. Today, after many years of work, having come to the showroom, I can say that I did not like something, ask to finish it and, of course, come up with exclusive models for TSUM. Giorgio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, the Fendi sisters – I have been friends with everyone for decades. When I met Tom Ford twenty-seven years ago, I said, “You will be great.” Having met Stefano and Domenico, I immediately felt like in a family. They are lightweight, live a normal life and sew clothes that fit me perfectly. I am their brand ambassador in Russia. And Thomas Mayer and I were sitting at adjacent tables in an Italian restaurant, and suddenly he says: “I can’t take my eyes off your ring.” A year later, Thomas became the creative director of Bottega Veneta. With many designers I have carried on friendship throughout my life, but not many succeed. Designers need to work more and more, because the time between shows is getting shorter and shorter. Everything is changing terribly quickly. It seems that the designers were pushed to the wall, but the strongest always survive. When I had one small shop, was it hard? Sure. Two is also hard. Now I have giants – TSUM and DLT. Add another five hundred marks to them? No problem!
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