Tatiana Sorokko's 'Extending the Runway'

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Guests gather at Cafe des Amis in S.F., top, after a book signing by Tatiana Sorokko.

Not everyone could travel to Moscow to see Tatiana Sorokko's vintage couture collection on display during Russian Fashion Week this year. Seeing her closet in Mill Valley would be a little easier, but to simplify things (and alleviate foot traffic in her bedroom) she's created a book of the exhibition.

"Extending the Runway: Tatiana Sorokko Style" is a 187-page ode to her collection, published by the Russian Fashion Museum as a companion piece to the exhibition that premiered during Moscow Fashion Week in April. The 85-piece collection made its American debut at the Phoenix Art Museum this fall; the exhibition runs through Jan. 21.

San Francisco friends got their first look at the coffee-table publication at a book signing at Bulgari on Union Square in late September. The party was co-hosted by Denise Hale (named to the International Best-Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1975), Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Angelique Griepp and Shannon Bavarro, and was attended by 300 friends and natty dressers of all stripes, including Mill Valley neighbors Stefanie Coyote and Phil and Christine Bronstein; clothier Wilkes Bashford; dentist Alan Malouf; Italian fashion maven Daniela Faggioli and her daughter, Max Boyer Glynn; antiques expert Ed Hardy; and Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens.

The glossy publication, written in English and Russian, contains a foreword by Harper's Bazaar Editor in Chief Glenda Bailey (who hosted a book signing for Sorokko at Roger Vivier in Paris in October) and essays by American designer Ralph Rucci and fashion photographer Marco Glaviano.

But there's nothing like hearing a few words from local fashionistas who admire Sorokko's style.

"Her heart and soul is surrounded by fashion," said vintage specialist Joy Bianchi, "and with people who see who she is, from Jimmy Galanos to Ralph Rucci, and (she) carries on a tradition of wearable fine art. There are collectors of fashion who buy and put it in a closet. She wears it."

Among the pieces pictured in the book are vintage coats by Jeanne Paquin dating to the 1920s, a pleated dress from the same period by Mariano Fortuny, a strapless gown with Lesage beaded embroidery by Cristobal Balenciaga from 1964, and a silk chiffon gown by Jean-Louis Scherrer from 1970 worn by Sophia Loren to a state dinner hosted by Yugoslavian President Josip Tito.

Sally Debenham, a longtime friend of the late Bill Blass, admires Sorokko's personal aesthetic. "She has a great flair for drama and the height to carry it off," said Debenham of Sorokko, who - like Debenham - stands 5 feet 11. "I've never seen her look boring."

"Extending the Runway: Tatiana Sorokko Style," (Russian Fashion Museum, 187 pages; $50) is available at the Phoenix Art Museum and amazon.com.

This article appeared on page S - 6 of the San Francisco Chronicle


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