Anyone wandering down Beak Street on Wednesday evening could have been forgiven for thinking Soho had become a suburb of St Petersburg, as Russia's finest stepped out to celebrate the opening of the avant-garde artist Andrey Bartenev's new exhibition, Disco-nnexion, at kooky, cosy gallery The Riflemaker.
Critics and collectors more used to sipping champagne in vast galleries were crammed into tiny candle-lit rooms, where towering hats and sweeping minks passed perilously close to open flames and priceless art.
Bartenev, who represented Russia at last year's Venice Biennale, was sporting a black-and-white PVC catsuit, towering stripper heels and a pink conical hat, accompanied by the dazzlingly pink electro artist Sasha Frolova.
He was later spotted – not a difficult task – holding court with the man credited with making art accessible to the masses, the Royal Academy chairman Norman Rosenthal. Looking muted in a smart suit, Rosenthal sipped lethally strong Americano cocktails and pondered the surreal collages and light-boxes on display – all of which had been sold to private collectors at an auction earlier in the evening; designer Zandra Rhodes and supermodel Natalia Vodianova are known to be among his biggest fans.
Elsewhere, the pop artist Dougie Fields, decked out in his own jewellery line, rubbed shoulders with the musician Richard Strange, Russian artist Vestalia Chilton, the choreographer Aletta Collins, and the Russian businessman Slavat Timiyasov.
The crowd soon spilled into the eateries of nearby Lexington Street, most probably acting on the advice of Bartenev, who believes the best tip he ever received was from the designer Paco Rabanne, who told him, "Don't be in a rush to leave."Reuse content