A top designer at 15 - with help from daddy the oligarch

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The Independent Online

She is fast becoming one of Russia's most famous designers and has 28 shops selling her clothes for teenage girls. She is the official costumier for the reality television show Star Factory, Russia's version of Fame Academy. But when she is not running her company from its office in central Moscow, she is at school.

Kira Plastinina, a waifish 15-year-old with long, sandy hair, writes on her website: "I started drawing clothes when I was still very small. My father asked me what I liked to draw most of all, and I told him 'beautiful things'."

Luckily for Kira, her father, Sergei Plastinin, is a co-founder of one of Russia's biggest dairy and juice companies and has a fortune estimated at £175m. With ample means to humour his teenage daughter's wishes, he gave her funds to set up her own company. Kira takes care of the design side, while daddy looks after the books. "She goes to school every day and comes to the office in the evening," says a spokesman.

And it seems that it was Mr Plastinin who splashed out this week to make his daughter's dream of meeting the US socialite Paris Hilton come true. On Monday night, Kira's collection for next spring and summer was shown off at an exclusive club as part of Moscow Fashion Week.

The cream of Russia's designers launched their latest collections alongside foreign guests including the French couturier Emanuel Ungaro. Hilton took a front-row seat and, at the end of the show, sashayed down the catwalk with the teenage designer beside her.

On Tuesday, Hilton spent half an hour at the flagship Kira Plastinina store in Moscow's Yevropeisky mall, ringing up a bill of 293,439 roubles (£6,000). "I love her clothes," she said afterwards. "I want to wear these clothes in LA and I'm going to give some to my sister."

Kira, who often models her own creations in light shades of pink and purple, has described them as "art-glamour-sportive-casual". They are aimed at teenage girls and many designs would look at home on the rails in Topshop.

High street shopping is still rather complicated in Moscow. Although chains such as Zara and Mexx are slowly infiltrating the city, there is still a gap in the market for reasonably priced clothes aimed at a growing middle class. In the gulf between the markets offering dirt-cheap, shoddily-made knock-offs and the Italian boutiques where oligarchs spend thousands of pounds on their wives or girlfriends, there is little to choose from.

Perhaps because of this lack of competition, Kira's clothes are a hit, selling more than 40,000 items a month, and she is planning new outlets across Russia and expansion into Ukraine and Kazakhstan. "I really admire her and think she's great," said Hilton of her new Russian friend.