The Artist's Work

A personal note from A. Vassiliev

The highlight of this season is a current exhibition of my private dress collection in a famed Istanbul Sabanci museum in Turkey. It has such a public acclaim, that since its opening in May 2004 more than 20,000 visitors came to visit it on the banks of Bosphorus. Therefore it was extended till the end of October.

It is an enormous pleasure and the matter of a collector's pride to present the best of my collection in the Sakip Sabanci museum in Istanbul. I do appreciate a lot an effort of the late Mr. Sakip Sabanci to create the Sabanci University and a splendid museum, devoted to the art collection. Its location on the high board of the beautiful turquoise Bosphorus, the handsome building itself and the professional ability of the museum stuff made an outstanding frame to house my period dress collection in the current exhibition.

For almost 30 years I had been collection the garments, accessories, painting, drawings, photography and printed matted related to the history of fashion. This life time passion came to me well before the age of 14, while in Moscow, where I was born. Encourage at first by my parents, I was searching with an energy of a teenager in the devastated by the Bolsheviks homeland the surviving costumes of the begone czarist era, saving them often from the destroying, burning and taking some of the strait from the street dust beans. Already at the age of 16 TV programs and magazines in Russia got interested in my collection. People started to contact me by mail, sheering with me some of their family possessions or archives.

After moving to France in 1982 I got a chance to enlarge my collection in a big way, profiting from the rich offers on Parisian auctions, flea markets and antique dealers. As a professional designer and teacher, I got an unique chance to travel the world intensively and thanks to that, introducing many more pieces to my collection that is kept now near Paris. It counts some 10 000 pieces, excluding the accessories and fashion images and, thanks to God, it will finally form a Fashion Institute and a Museum, together with the Alexandre Vassiliev foundation in the coming future. Many of my costumes are displayed as well on

For many years I was trying to popularize my collection and showing it to thousands of people world wide. The very first time I was showing some of my dresses in Paris Museum of Modern art in 1983 for the exhibition " Les Mythes de nos nippes", organized by a well known fashion historian and a writer Carol Mann. Since that I had a possibility to show some pieces in several exhibitions of the Paris Musee de la Mode at Galliera palace, most recently at the exhibition " Les souvenirs Muscovites" in 2001, and in Printemps exhibition hall in 2002. It also had been displayed in London, Reykjavik, Antwerp, Lugano, Frankfurt, Moscow and Brussels. For almost 3 years it was on show in South America - in Chile at Santiago Museum of Applied Art and in a city of Conception . Several time the collection was on show in Hong Kong, precisely at the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Art, last time in 1999. Australia as well got a keen interest in my collection It was exhibited 3 times in Sydney, mostly at TAFE Institute Muse exhibition hall and then in Brisbane David Jones gallery in 2002.

The possibility of showing my collection in Turkey came as a result of many years of my artistic activities in this country that I love a lot. I came to Turkey at first in 1987, invited by the State Opera and ballet of Ankara do design a popular Valery Panov's ballet "The Idiot" based of the Dostoyevsky's novel. The production was a success, that leaded me to design another 16 production for the State Ankara Opera and Ballet, among those such hits as "The Sleeping Beauty", " The Three Musketeers", " Anna Karenina", "La Bayadere", "Romeo and Juliet", "The Nutcracker" and last fall 2004 a best selling ballet by Meric Ciminciler " Calikusu".

Mersin State Opera and Ballet hired me to design a ballet "The Harem" in 1998, as well as I had a wonderful chance to design a ballet "Antonius and Cleopatra" in Istanbul state Opera and Ballet in 1989, invited here by a Primabalerina and a State Artist Merih Sumen. As a result of my artistic input to the Turkish ballet I was twice a winner of a TOBAV theatrical award, that was designated personally to me by the former President Mr. Suleyman Demirel.

A Bilkent University did invited me to teach design and costume history in Ankara for a semester in 1993. My frequent trips throuout Istanbul and elsewhere Your beautiful country I had an chance no only studying the Turkish culture and nature, I did meet some wonderful people, among them my very dear friend Miss Nazan Bozbag, an Istanbul business lady and an Art lover. It was thanks ho her that I meet a director of the Sakip Sabanci museum, Mrs. Nazan Ulcer, who saw my dress collection in Paris Galliera museum and by chance met me in the plane to Istanbul in person. So some long years came in preparation of this show and we all are extremely happy to present this exhibition to you.

The collecting of textiles is a very hard and costly hobby. It will be impossible to enlarge and conserve this collection alone. Many people contributive by their generous donations, attribution and restorations of the garment. I'm very pleased to thank those who's impact was the most memorable: Stefanya Adolfsdottir, countess Yola d' Alcantara, Jose Aldunate - Menendes, Isabel Alvarado, countess Carmen Apraxine, Alexandre Arbatt, countess Jacqueline de Beaugourdon, Gillian Choa, baroness Galina Delwig - Gorlenko, Michael Dillon, Halinka Dorsowna, Connie Hart, Catherine Join - Dieterle, Lemasson family, Florence Muller, Ross O'Dell, Caroline Pecover - Brown, Steven de Petrie, Maya Plissetskaya, Swetlana Samssonow, Juozas Statkiavicius, Mary Wong.

My respects and the gratitude to Madame Jacques Chirac, who personally helped me to find a place to store and keep my collection in Paris. Special thanks to my assistants Christophe Dubois and Cyrill Gassilin, who were in charge of dressing and ironing of the multitude of the historical garments and to all the stuff of the Sakip Sabanci museum.

Another personal achievement happened this Fall. A new lavish and richly illustrated book of mine was published in Russian by "Slovo" in Moscow. It is entitled "150 years of the Russian fashion in the photography", contains 2000 photos and 450p. Its INBN number is 5-85050-729-9. It will be in the books stores throughout Russia late September.

My current activities enclosed a very successful interior decorating business. Since a year I'm directing a Moscow based studio "Alexandre Vassiliev Interiors" that already have a number of quiet exquisite clients. My contact number there is + 7095 631 09 09.

To those, who are interested to study fashion & design with me I'm proud to announce a special English speaking course that I'm planning to conduct each August in Vilnius, Lithuania. To get more of the information one might write to

Lavish sets, such as this one from a recent Hong Kong Ballet production of "Cinderella",

and lush costumes are standard fare for Alexandre's creations.