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Good Reads | Dasha On Russia

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W: Icon of the Decade | the 2000s Dasha Zhukova

Dasha“Overall, I’m not upset at the press,” Zhukova says. “It’s a give-and-take.” It’s not just that Zhukova accepts that the old-school establishment may need some time to embrace a young, rich, and beautiful newcomer without the usual academic ­credentials (Zhukova earned a degree in Slavic studies and took courses in holistic medicine before forging her own path). It’s also that, as a sophisticated woman who came of age in the aughts, she instinctively ­understands that nowadays art, style, and popular culture are intrinsically intertwined. Stalwarts sniff at the commingling of museums and curators with fashion labels and luxury titans, but for Zhukova that discussion is as passé as a Soviet propaganda poster. “It’s a path of evolution,” she says simply. “I don’t think it’s a good thing or a bad thing.”

The projects that Zhukova, with Abramovich’s support, is un­dertaking in Russia are of a scale and ambition that one usually associates with government institutions rather than with individuals. To be sure, cultural largesse has always been a way for newcomers to become a part of established society—but historically, this has been a gradual process achieved over several generations. Zhukova, who is just 31, has gained her entrée in record time—and shows no signs of slowing down. “Russia was culturally isolated for so long that some sort of transformation needs to happen and will happen,” she says. “Perhaps Garage is a catalyst for social change in a nonpolitical sense. It’s a way of bringing in new perspectives, new thoughts, and wider ideas.” Spoken like a true citizen of a brave new world.