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Finding Success in Divine Designs

Local tailor Nikita Borisov has earned himself a name dressing the holy men of the Orthodox church.

Published: August 27, 2014 (Issue # 1826)



  • For over 40 years, Borisov has been working as a tailor with his custom-made garments in demand across the world.
    Photo: Lana Matafonov / for SPT

  • Borisov’s colorful Greek-style vestments, worn by Orthodox priests.
    Photo: for SPT


  • Photo: for SPT

“You know, there is a story about [Leonid] Brezhnev and jeans,” says local St. Petersburg tailor Nikita Borisov. “As you know, jeans are very strong…stiff, you need to wash them before you wear them. Well apparently, he wore them new once and they gave him problems down there [gestures to groin] and so he banned jeans in the Soviet Union,” Borisov says laughing. “No jeans for anyone! So we started making our own jeans and selling them with fake labels. It was illegal of course, but it was better money. In fact, once, we were inspected by the police and after they examined our jeans, they declared them to be the real thing, that’s how good we made them.”

For over 40 years, Borisov has been working as a tailor in both the U.S. and St. Petersburg and in that time has developed a large clientele both locally and abroad. In 1991, he began specializing in custom-made garments for the Orthodox religion, with his handiwork earning him a reputation worldwide and he now receives orders from as far as Australia, as remote as Nigeria and even requests for film costume creations. Such is the high demand for his work that the talented tailor has had to seek more space and recently moved his workshop from the cramped, tiny basement of an apartment building on Ulitsa Rubensteina to a larger and holier area — a room next to the majestic baroque-style Nikolsky Cathedral, one of St. Petersburg’s most beautiful churches. “This is very special for me as this was the church I got baptized as Orthodox when I was 22,” says Borisov.

However, despite being baptized in Russia, it was not until the tailor was living and working in the U.S. that he began creating Orthodox garments. While working at a tailor shop in Sea Cliff, New York, a member from the Lomonosov family approached him about making a cassock, a full-length garment worn by members of the church. “Within a week of arriving in the U.S., I was working for an Italian man, making custom-made suits and alterations. I said that I have never made a cassock before but if you show me one, I can replicate it. So he gave me one, I opened it all up and copied it,” he said. “I did a good job, word spread and after one year I was able to open my own tailor shop in New York, specializing in Orthodox and religious garments.”

Being self-taught is nothing unusual for Borisov — it was this exact curiosity and determination that got him interested in the profession in the first place. “I started making alterations when I was 12 or 13 years old because there wasn’t anything good in the Soviet Union back then. My mother would order me pants and they were always too big, so I would take them in myself. Pants, shirts, shorts…I would open up old clothes, see how they were sewn and then make the alterations on my own clothes,” he said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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