MOSCOW – The hostess emerged through the haze of a smoke machine, wearing huge fake claws and what appeared to be a transparent nun’s garb held in place by a belt adorned with a large cross, presumably sacrilegious.
Russian Vogue declared Anastasia Ivleyeva’s 30th birthday party the “biggest party of the year”. She was certainly firing the gun at yet another party season for Moscow’s super-rich – the coronavirus and President Putin’s growing political repression be damned.
Ivleyeva, known as the First Lady of Runet (Russian Internet), predicted her costume party would be Moscow’s response to the Met Gala, and guests didn’t disappoint, showing up decked out in tailoring, jewelry, wreaths, wood. and dozens of elaborate headwear and designer costume items. Some have toured the restaurant on motorbikes.
The only thing missing were face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19 among carefree revelers.
Since Ivleyeva’s party last week, Moscow’s filthy rich have been going wild – all of this is documented on social media. Anna Mongait, a star of Russian independent television channel TV Rain, told the Daily Beast that it was difficult to decide which glamorous event to go to each night.
After two intense months of pro-Alexei Navalny protests that have gripped the country, people are ready to turn to the party.
“There was a high period of political protests, a fashion for political discussions,” Mongait said. “And now it’s like after sex, everyone is feeling a bit overwhelmed and in need of some fun.”
Mainstream celebrities and newly rising internet stars drink from dusk till dawn, laugh at the pandemic, dress in crazy outfits and celebrate the newly opened bars.
Ivleyeva has established herself as a leader of the new generation of influencers, proudly apolitical. Despite the escalation of Cold War rhetoric between Washington and Moscow, the new breed of Russian celebrities want to show that they are creative and free, as they imagine their counterparts in Los Angeles or New York.
But many American cultural figures also adopt charitable projects or political campaigns. Last week, a group of high profile Hollywood stars signed a letter of support for arrested Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Ludmila Stein, who are on trial.
You won’t hear that from the attendees of the “Russian Met Gala”. If they signed a similar letter, Russian artists would lose favor with the Kremlin, costing them contracts for state-sponsored events. Russian cultural figures face some of the worst political pressures from the Putin regime. If celebrities dare to engage, they do it quietly, behind the scenes.
Popular author and documentary maker Mikhail Zygar says the current situation in Russia resembles the days of Josef Stalin. Right before the great purge – when tens of thousands of Russian intellectuals were arrested and sent to the Gulag – there was a great flowering of cultural life. “The social life of Moscow reminds me today of the social life of 1934”, he explained during a Russian art journal Event.
Some Russian cultural figures are more courageous than others. Last week, the Film Critics and Filmmakers Guild presented Navalny with an award for a series of investigative documentaries. Putin loyalist Nikita Mikhalkov, an Oscar-winning director, was outraged. “Navalny has nothing to do with cinematography,” he said.
There was certainly no party politics at Ivleyeva’s big party, although she has donated over $ 15,000 to the Independent Doctors Alliance – a Navalny-related project – in the past.
Instead, Ivleyeva’s guests focused on mocking the pandemic. They cheered in a bar lined with medical stands for holding intravenous tubes. The Komsomolskaya Pravda The newspaper quoted angry Russians condemning the “monsters” and comparing their behavior to the book Vanity Fair, who satirized 19th century British aristocracy. The Russians also recalled the tragedy of Alexander Pushkin The feast at the time of the plague.
Ivleyeva – who has over 20 million followers on social media – didn’t back down. “I showed Mother Russia how to hang out,” she says.
Moscow’s ultra-rich revelers agree.
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