Style Tribes Vol. 3: The Cavalli-Loving Russian Ladies of Brighton Beach

Photo: Dina Litovsky

Take the B or the Q train to Sheepshead Bay, walk toward Avenue X, and the lettering on stores’ signs slowly switches from Spanish to Cyrillic, marking your entry to Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach. Home to émigrés from Moscow, and parts of Moldova and Belarus, “Little Odessa,” as the area is known, achieved recent notoriety as the setting for Lifetime’s reality series Russian Dolls. Though you won’t come across many style statements on the street (foot traffic is minimal in the nearly suburban neighborhood), stop by Rasputin Restaurant and Cabaret on a Saturday after dusk, and you’ll get a taste of Russian dressing Stateside. The tri-level supper club with a commanding marble façade is the community’s go-to for weddings and bar mitzvahs, and its celebrity only increased last year, after co-owner and “Queen Bee” Marina was featured on Dolls.

For The Cut’s third volume of Style Tribes, we sent photographer Dina Litovsky to capture Marina, her entourage, and a handful of other Rasputin patrons in their Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, and Chanel eveningwear. But most of the women don’t hesitate to mix high and low fashions, and admit that they rarely make it beyond their local boutiques to pick up new pieces. Jewelry is the centerpiece of every outfit, with custom-made Italian rings, rare rose-cut diamond earrings, Hermès bracelets, and intricate necklaces by Val Stern — his mother, Nataly, wears a copy of one of Coco Chanel’s dresses created by Karl Lagerfeld in our slideshow. As for beauty, Delacqua Salon on 86th Street is the first stop for many of these women before they mount the steps to Rasputin, participating in what they referred to numerous times as “the procession of red-soled heels.”

Style Tribes: Russian Women of Brighton Beach