As you probably already know, I am a Russian who has been living in London on and off since I was 14 and the city became very dear to me, a second home, yet I will always remain a Russian, albeit with a European mentality.
Being quite opinionated, I feel strongly about what happens in my country of birth and unfair criticism being leveled against the Russians gets me really cross (and I accept a deserved criticism with grace !), so I think that pre-conceptions regarding Russian nationals, especially women, need to be changed and not encouraged, after all we are supposed to live in the 21st century and not the dark ages.
When last month I read an article ‘The Chelski Girls’ in the UK version of Marie Claire I was slightly puzzled and when I re-read it again, I became cross-to start with, who came up with that term ‘Chelski girls’ and what does it actually mean-that they all live in Chelsea? The article concentrated on the opinions and personalities of four Russian women who happen to reside in London, yet the only idea you got after reading this article was-oh my god, shallow airheads with no real substance. Don’t get me wrong, I have never met any of those four women and can’t judge them or their personalities, however there are quite a few points that I would like to make, based on my own experience living in Britain, and London in particular.
-most of us don’t have six mobiles phones being used at the same time to ‘keep up with everything I’m doing’.
-considering Russian history, I don’t think a term ‘old Russian money’ exists. We have people who are members of ‘inteliigencia’, who have noble background, are well-read and well-educated and whose families might have been very wealthy before the Revolution, but most of those people didn’t remain wealthy under the communism. Nuances like that depend on the context!
-not all Russian women living in London wear ‘head-to-toe designer labels and carry the latest It bag’. It certainly is part of the Russian mentality to try to out-do everyone else, to make an effort to look amazing but I think only people who weren’t born in Moscow or Saint Petersberg and come from poor background but who married into lots of money will wear head-to-toe looks. Women like Daria Zhukova or Natalia Vodianova are a testament that a Russian woman can be smart and stylish on a par with their European or American contemporaries-and you certainly don’t need the latest It bag for that.
-you don’t have to move to London from Moscow to own a house-while people generally own apartments in Moscow there are some amazing private houses to be found too.
-it would never cross my mind to go to’ Brinkley’s’-hand on my heart, I have never even heard of it until I read the article- on most Sundays to spend ‘£150 on bottles of bubbly’. Most Russian people I know spend their Sundays with family or friends relaxing and not drinking on a Sunday night before having to go to work on Monday morning.
It really saddens me that Kathryn Knight chose to portray Russian women in such a way that I personally found quite off-putting. If anything, it has become quite popular in the last few years for British and European well-off men to not only date, but actually marry Russian women and in many cases not only because they are or were former models. Russian women are smart and resilient, they can dress stylishly on a shoe string and turn a male head in such a way that her British contemporary can only dream of. They are driven and well-read, they can work and party hard to and not limit themselves to only a Russian crowd in London-after all, what’s the point of moving away from Russia if you end up surrounding yourself only with you compatriots in London? I also wonder what Marie Claire’s executive fashion editor, who happens to be Russian too, thought of this article.