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Russian designer Vyacheslav Zaitsev dies

Famous for dressing the country's first ladies, Zaitsev dictated Soviet and Russian fashion for decades

Designer Vyacheslav 'Slava' Zaitsev (centre) during Fashion Week in Moscow on 10 March 2018.
Designer Vyacheslav 'Slava' Zaitsev (centre) during Fashion Week in Moscow on 10 March 2018. (AP)

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Fashion designer Vyacheslav Zaitsev, who dressed Russia's first ladies, has died at the age of 85, Russian news outlets have reported.

He was taken to a hospital in the Moscow region with stomach bleeding and died in intensive care, as per media reports.

Born in 1938 in Ivanovo, a centre for the textile industry, Zaitsev's first international recognition came in 1963 when the French Paris Match magazine wrote about his collection of overalls for female workers, according to a note posted on the website of his fashion house. The French press nicknamed him "Red Dior" in the 1960s, states a Reuters report.

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Among Zaitsev's Russian clients were music stars, actors, socialites and politicians. The patronage of Raisa Gorbacheva, the wife of the last Soviet Union leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, elevated his international fame in the 1980s, states the Reuters report.

He also counted the former wife of President Vladimir Putin, Lyudmila, as his client, it added. She wore one of his dresses and accessories for a state visit to the UK in June 2003, which included an audience with Queen Elizabeth II.

"I was incredibly lucky that at the beginning of my conscious life I decided, thank God, what to strive for, who I should be," Zaitsev wrote in a note on his website. "Thank God, I found the meaning of life in search of Harmony and Perfection through means of the Highest art of clothing, art of painting and graphics, photography ... in life, poetry."

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