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© Photo Courtesy of Buro24/7 / Nikolay Zverkov

A working fashionista

by Nathan Gray at 12/11/2012 20:24

For a woman who has become known as one of Russia’s “Fashion Pack,” Miroslava Duma’s education was not pointing her to the world of fashion journalism she is making her own.

Graduating from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, or MGIMO, in 2008, she received a master’s degree in international business and business administration.

“For me it was very boring, and I didn’t really understand it and I didn’t like it,” Duma said, en route to a charity event Friday evening. “To have a diploma from this university, especially a master’s, of course, it’s a great thing, and I’m very thankful and grateful to my parents that I had a chance to graduate from this university, but, thank God, again, my parents did let me choose the profession that I wanted.”

Limited coverage

Duma was born in 1985 in Surgut, in the oil-rich Tyumen region, though online reports say she was born in Moscow two years earlier and studied journalism at university – a discrepancy Duma herself attributes to the “Wikipedia factor” of public editing.

Her parents moved to Moscow in 1991, where her father, Vasily, became head of Slavneft and, later, a senator in the Federation Council until 2011. After graduation from MGIMO, Duma went to work for Harper’s Bazaar, one of her projects being a series of photographs of Russian celebrity families.

Part of the challenge was learning on the job, as she confesses to having had no writing experience at the time, but this was not the reason why she eventually gave up her work at Harper’s. Instead, she felt constrained in her efforts promoting the charity fund she had founded, Peace Planet.

“We did a charity event, and it was very difficult for me to ask Vogue or Officiel or Tatler or Elle or Marie Claire to write about my event because they all associated me with Harper’s Bazaar,” Duma said.

The flexibility of freelancing allowed her to generate broader coverage of Peace Planet’s work. One example was a reduced-price fashion night at the TsUM department store, where 15 female celebrities – including Hello! magazine’s Russian editor Svetlana Bondarchuk and TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak – were the sales staff.

“We raised money for a threeyear- old baby with a heart defect, and we raised €70,000 that night,” she said. “We got all the digital projects, like radio stations, magazines, they supported us, they wrote about this project in advance, so the more people read, the more could come.”

Birth of the Buro

When Duma and her husband, businessman Alexei Mikheyev, had a son in 2010, she began rethinking her position as a freelancer – for career prospects, as well as the baby, though the new arrival kept her from seeking an office job.

“How many more years could I work as a freelancer?” she said. “I have to go somewhere, I have to have one particular job, and I understood that I wouldn’t be able to spend the whole day in an office not seeing my baby.”

With her friend Fira Chiliyeva, she formed Buro24/7, “kind of a bureau of information 24 hours, seven days a week,” Duma said. “It provides our readers with quality information 24/7, up to 25 updates a day, on cinema, music, art, culture, fashion, lifestyle, social life – everything.”

Even the breast cancer awareness event she was attending that evening was going to be reported on the website later that night.

The project has proven so successful, that its first foray outside of Russia was launched this summer, www.buro247.hr, based in Zagreb. Plans are in the works for an English-language site soon, as well as a Middle Eastern site based in Dubai, plus cafes and cultural weeks focused on the themes and topics covered by the site itself.

Fashion’s direction

Duma considers Russian fashion to be diversifying and taking off, after seven decades of what she described as “cultural and economic stagnation” followed by the ’90s, when many people suddenly came into a lot of money and were obsessed with showing off the latest and most famous names.

“There is a trend in fashion called minimalism, which is being promoted very actively by such designers as Raf Simons, who is now creative director at Dior, by Phoebe Philo from Celine, and many other talented designers,” she said. “People who have money from the ’90s, they are fed up a little bit, all this bling-blinging and Versace and stuff, and in fashion, they, of course, want to be respected by people who understand fashion.”

Ulyana Sergeyenko is a new Russian face on the international scene, geared toward couture and minimalism, who showed her first collection in Paris just one season ago, Duma said. Vika Gazinskaya, a good friend, is very popular in the West and has presented collections in 16 countries.

The domestic scene is even stronger, with veterans such as Vladislav Zaitsev and Valentin Yudashkin and younger designers, such as Alexander Terekhov – an example of whose work Duma was wearing Friday evening.

Many of the nights out, however, as glamorous as they may sound, are simply part of Duma’s work.

“It’s not like I really enjoy going out, having makeup and hair done, and dressing up,” she said. “I have a baby, a 2-year-old baby, and I’d rather stay at home with him, I don’t know, draw, go for a walk in the fresh air, play, do anything with him, but it’s kind of work, you know?”

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