Russia's reckoning: At `Vogue' the party goes on

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AS THEY watch their country disintegrate before their eyes, the citizens can find some comfort in the news that Russian Vogue is speeding ahead with a gilt-edged launch next week.

If they just need to know whether Gucci or Prada will give them the look for the next season, they can turn to the first-ever Russian issue of the glossy magazine, which hit the news-stands this week with features on Kate Moss and Amber Valletta draping themselves around Moscow in sheer outfits costing more than the average Russian's annual salary.

And in a gesture of confidence that will warm the cockles of the Russian people's hearts, the magazine's publishers declared yesterday they were determined not to let an economic meltdown get in the way of a good launch party.

Specifically, plans were unchanged for next week's glitzy bash at Moscow's History Museum (No 1, Red Square) featuring as guests of honour Karl Lagerfeld, Donatella Versace and Naomi Campbell.

"We've had a fabulous response to the first issue," says the magazine's spokeswoman, Masha Shaumian. Russian Vogue features advertising from Cartier, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Ralph Lauren, and Ms Shaumian said she was confident that its readers would be "relatively unaffected" by the week's events, presumably because they (or their husbands) were part of the wealthy elite responsible for the country's predicament.

Vindicating Ms Shaumian's predictions, sales look likely to reach the 150,000 projected, and Conde Nast, the magazine's publishers, were wise not to print a cover price on it: available for 25 roubles on Monday, it was going for more than twice the price yesterday.