Russian chic

Here I'll be posting all the chic Russian/Ukrainian things to do and buy in London and beyond. Updated weekly.

Wed 13 November

Wed 9 October

This week it's Ukraine that takes centre stage in my selection of events. So not Russian, but Ukrainian Chic instead! Days of Ukraine in the UK open on the 18th of October in London. Sadly, lots of them are invitation only. I won't miss the 'Gala opening' - it's like a rather dull dinner with all the Ukrainian officials. However, I am sad about not being able to attend a fashion show by Ukraine's most prominent fashion designers, including Lilia Pustovit, whose creations I used to love as a student. You can't even get to a Ukrainian literature lecture (invitations only)! Now, I don't foresee long queues forming for that! But here is what you can see.

ART: Ukrainian Art at the Saatchi Gallery
Featuring over a dozen contemporary Ukrainian artists representing both 'older' and younger generation and spanning across genres, the Ukrainian Art at Saatchi Gallery should be a good representation of the UKrainain art scene. Includes work by Anatoliy Krivolap, Oleh Tisol, Pavlo Makov among others. The exhibition opens on the 18th of October and will last for two weeks.

MUSIC: Ukrainian Ethnic Festoval and Concert
We are good at street parties and open air concerts. When I was a student in Kiev all we did was attending free concerts on the streets and squares of Kiev. And now one of those is coming to London! Held at the Potters Field Park, the Mayor of London's green space of choice to hold various ethnic days, it will feature, among others singer Oleg Skrypka and Vopli Vidoplyasova band. Now, I am not that much into popular culture of any sort, but these two names make me get weak at the knees. Sat 19 October from 1.30pm.

More information on all the events can be found at the Days of Ukraine in the UK website.

Thu 3 October
FOOD: Russian Tea and Apple Sweets - this weekend!

How very topical! A Russian tea party with traditional Russian apple sweets from the city of Kolomna (I've never tasted those).
Complete with a 'site specific' theatrical performance from the new Russian working museum of food and industrial history. This could be either a really cool event or a complete disaster. Held at the Pushkin House in Russian with some English translation and complete with refreshments. Child friendly. Book here.

FILM: 7th Russian Film Festival in London - Dates Announced! 

As promised, the dates for the 7th Russian Film Festival in London have been announced, though the full programme has not been. It is starting on the 7th of November at Empire Cinema on Leicester Square. The festival usually runs for a week. 

It will open with an apocalyptic black comedy Bite the Dust by Taisia Igumentseva. 

The opening night is £50 per head and includes drinks reception, screening followed by a Q&A with the director and an afterparty. I will definitely try to go, though not to the opening. Last year was great: packed screenings and such a buzz! All with English subtitles. 
More information and bookings available here

SHOP: Russian Night Scented Candle

Hm… I wonder what this candle smells like? The website says that this Frederic Malle candle has ‘a fragrance that is simple and rich at the same time, with notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, iris and sandalwood’. But what makes it Russian? The red jar? Will need to go and check it out. Available from Liberty.

Wed 25 September
FILM: Russian Films at the BFI London Film Festival

Three Russian films will be screened at the BFI London Film Festival (9-20 October). Two feature films: A Long and Happy Life (2013), directed by Boris Khlebnikov and Shame (2013), directed by Yuzup Razykov  as well Pipeline (2013), a documentary by Vitaly Mansky will be screened.
It’s always nice to see Russian films at film festivals, especially as the Russian cinema is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. I will try to see Shame, as it promises to be a soul-searching film, inspired by the Kursk tragedy. Remember Kursk? Seamen buried alive inside a nuclear submarine?


Georgian food is as much part of the Russian culture as Indian cuisine here in Britain. I love it! It always felt so exotic, back in the Soviet days. There is a great Georgian restaurant in Kensington called Mimino (after a Georgian character of a much loved Soviet film), which serves excellent Georgian food. It’s fairly reasonably priced and offers a great selection of Georgian favourites! Try Megruli (khachapuri - Georgian bread with cheese) and Georgian salad with walnut dressing. 
The atmosphere there is quite authentic with obligatory live music on the weekends, which can be quite annoying. They don’t do lunches, sadly.
Mimino Restaurant, 197C Kensington High St, London W8 6BA. Tel.: 020 7937 1551

Wed 18 September

SHOPPING: Crafty Russians

The ‘Russian dolls’ of Matryoshkas are everywhere! Look at this adorable painting kit. I wish I had daughters! Oh maybe I should get this for myself for Christmas.
John Lewis's Russian Dolls painting kit.

BOOKS: Modern Russian and Ukrainian Literature for free

Wandsworth libraries have a pretty impressive collection of modern Russian books. I organised a Russian event there in February and now the books are travelling from one Wandsworth library to another (I bit annoying that, I have to say). Books for adults are currently in the Southfields library and children’s books are at the Wandsworth Town Centre library. My favourite are books by a Ukrainian writer Andrei Kurkov and a laugh-out-loud book by a Latvian blogger, Slava Se (both in Russian). Boris Akunin and all other usual suspects are available too. The libraries' opening hours and locations are here.

Wed 11 September

SHOPPING: Russian doll collection at M&S 

Oh, I love the new Russian doll collection at M&S: cups and mugs, tea towels, oven mittens, cake tins, even cushions. I want, want, want! (In fact I already bought a tea towel and oven mittens) - they are wonderful!

Search "Russian" on the M&S website, as if you search for "Russian doll", it will not give you the full list of items on sale.  

EATING OUT: Marivanna restaurant in London

Not that I am luring you out of a kitchen, but there are a number of good places to eat Russian food. One of them is Marivanna restaurant. Everything a Russian restaurant should be: opulent, lavish and serving solid Russian food. The problem is it's ridiculously expensive. You are definitely not paying for the food there, as Russian food (unless you are serving beluga caviar) is not expensive. You are paying for the atmosphere, location (in Knightsbridge) and also, how to put it mildly, for being able to show off. A slice of Napoleon cake was £10 a few months ago. It's like  Carluccio's food served at the Ritz with a Michelin starred restaurant price tag. But the food is good - I had a wonderful time there with my friends!
Marivanna restaurant: 116 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7PJ, tel:  020 7225 3122,

FILM: 7th Russian Film Festival in London (November 2013)

This is one of my favourite Russian events of the year. The Russian Film festival in London features some of the best contemporary Russian films on the big screen with English subtitles. It has a great vibe, it's always busy (it's like the cinema used to be - not a single spare seat in sight) and gives you a snippet of the Russian film culture. But as many things Russian, the dates and the programme are announced last minute. It is likely to take place in November again in one of London's West End cinemas. Watch this space or check out the organisers' website

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