Youth – in all of its tender, unaffected glory – is at the epicentre of Gosha Rubchinskiy’s work. It flows like blood through the veins of his evocative menswear collections, which recast post-Soviet sportswear and 80s tailoring in a powerful and vivid new light. It’s present in the rousing street castings of fresh-faced Russian males sporting mullet-cum-buzz-cuts and angular jawlines at his runway shows. But, it’s most apparent in his emotive photographs of adolescents and the environments they inhabit in his native Russia. “When I was at college I just started taking pictures of things that interested me on these basic retro cameras. My friends, the clothes I was making and the daily places we would hang out,” he explains brightly on a crackly hotline from Moscow. “I want people to be able to see the world through my eyes, you know?”
Next week sees the launch of Rubchinskiy’s sublime sophomore photobook, Youth Hotel, which is published in a limited-edition run by IDEA books at Dover Street Market. Taken over the course of a year, it’s a stimulating and optimistic portrait of Russia’s next generation. As he concedes: "It’s not really about a youth hotel as such. It’s more about the culture of youth. For me that’s like a hotel, a glimpse of time, you can spend a small amount of time there, but you have to move on, the energy changes, you grow up.”
From candid close-ups of scantily clad teens in shrouds of cigarette smoke, to curious ephemera, dilapidated landmarks and bold Brutalist architecture, Rubchinskiy takes the reader on a provocative and poignant tour of Russia's sprawling urban cities through a juvenescent lens. “Young people have new ideas, new ways and a new look on normality, that’s why I follow them and why they make the best portraits. For me, this book represents a new generation of hope, the future of Russia now,” he concludes.