By Michal Goldfein
I recently had the privilege of attending a show at New York Fashion Week. The designer showing her collection was Irina Shabayeva and her designs were exquisite. Shabayeva was born in the Republic of Georgia and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated with a BFA from Parsons School of Design in 2003 and began to pursue a career in the fashion industry.
Some might recognize her name as the winner of Season 6 of Project Runway and as a competitor on Project Runway All Stars. In her winning collection on Project Runway Season 6, she showcased her ability to use oversized collars, different fabric textures, folds, and pleating details, as well as working with knits. She made beautiful ready-to-wear pieces that could be incorporated into a sleek, modern, everyday-and-beyond wardrobe. She has designed for Madonna, Kelly Ripa, and Kelly Clarkson. She made the dress for Carrie Underwood’s album cover and an amazing butterfly dress for Selena Gomez. She designs custom bridal gowns, and to my surprise, has had Jewish clientele. I will do my best to describe Shabayeva’s beautiful line and explain how one can incorporate these looks in a modest way.
To start, Shabayeva’s collection for spring 2020 was filled with feminine patterns and ruffles that celebrated the female form. For example, she used red-and-black florals, black-and-white polka dots, and leopard prints. For extra drama, she had her models wear gorgeous hats that furthered the intrigue of her collection. While many of the dresses were not modest, I began imagining ways to modify and take her clothes and adapt them to the laws of tzniut. For example, many pieces could be worn with a white or black blouse underneath. Even a crop jacket or knit cardigan could do the trick.
To my amazement, her Paris Fashion Week show was just as rich and awe-inspiring. She used quilted leather that was at once arresting to the eye and could easily be incorporated into any woman’s fall or winter wardrobe. I loved the matching separates, exaggerated peplum details, hooded coats, and more. In a fabric that one would think could look so stiff and inflexible, Shabayeva proved through her technique that she was a master at her craft. I was fascinated by her leather dress with ruffle bottom. Her finale piece, a gown made out of leather on top and velvet with croc leather trim on bottom, was worn by the famous Coco Rocha. It is not an easy feat to accomplish fluidity and a balance between hard and soft, and Shabayeva is so talented.
How can you acquire one of her gorgeous creations? Never fear, you can buy her stunning looks — everything from printed jersey dresses, bridal/evening, coats and jackets, feathered dresses, headpieces, and caftans on her website IrinaShabayevaSHOP.com. Shabayeva also can custom-make the dresses and anything on her website in a modest version, so you really get the best of both worlds. If you are looking to purchase a custom bridal gown, you can schedule an appointment at her studio in New York City, and as evidenced in the photos here, your imagination can run free.
Why do I like her designs so much? Well, the truth is, there’s a sense of attainability in her looks that drew me in from the start. Sometimes, when we see things in a magazine we never really feel that we can wear those pieces. Something about her design says, “Come hither,” and I would never want to turn back.
Michal Goldfein is a fashion influencer and content creator on Instagram and posts daily modest fashion inspiration @TheFashionDetour. You can listen to her modest fashion podcast on Apple podcast and on Jtriberadio.com. Email your fashion questions to Michal at