My testimony. Olive Tree in the Garden of God.
I wonder why God chose us – we were people who had been so far away from the ways of high fashion in a poor Russian town of Tver.
We had neither business connections nor education sufficient for creating a collection of Haute Couture. The year was 1991. Was it possible to dream about high fashion in the country where weaving factories were closing due to the absence of raw materials and where even buying a button was a problem? But we firmly believed that God had called us to glorify His name through high fashion and did everything we could; expecting His miracle to happen.
One day God touched me in an amazing way. My husband (the pastor of a new congregation) and I went to Moscow for a conference. There, during a sermon, I saw an awesome vision of the entire Bible; starting from the Creation of the World to the Birth of Christ, His Crucifixion and Resurrection, shown in dresses of heavenly beauty and harmony. I was so overwhelmed by the vision that I was standing motionless. The vision of amazing beauty seemed to overlap with reality and became even more real.
The Holy Spirit testified to my heart of my mission to glorify the Lord through the art of haute couture (high fashion) and I trusted Him and the vision that was burning in my heart.
I had never seen fabrics of such beauty, so what was I supposed to do? I set up a school of beauty where lovely young girls studied the Bible and learned to walk on the stage. A “God blessed” choreographer, Svetlana Alan, was working with the girls, teaching them to move with an incredible grace and dignity.
The certificates the girls received had a quote from the New Testament “let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
The certificates the girls received had a quote from the New Testament: “Let not your adornment be merely external-braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person the he heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (I Peter 3:3-4)
One day my best friend, Larissa Babaeva, and I were sitting on the bank of the Volga River and praying.
We decided to set up a company “The House of High Fashion, Paradise.” No more, no less. We made a loan of 10 thousand rubles ($300). We were like holy fools and came to register our company right on the day of the Putsch (a secretly plotted and suddenly executed attempt to overthrow the government).
People didn’t sleep for three nights and had black shadows under their eyes… And there we came to register “Paradise.” What paradise??? But we were guided by the Lord so we there were with the registration.
All these years Larissa has been God’s gift and blessing for me. She hasn’t only been supporting me but also helping other people to get along with my unbearable temper.
With her patience, faith and compassion, she made all of us God’s united team and I really doubt if we could have achieved anything at all without her. We were buying fabrics, accessories, working out the lines of clothes and making orders for tailoring shops which had no other orders at the moment. I had to paint the fabrics.
Our first collections were made of silks painted manually. We spent all our profit from selling the clothes we had created on buying silks.
When we managed to buy only white silk at a silk-producing factory, we created the collection “White Clothes.” It was demonstrated at a contest of young fashion designers in Moscow. We were performing at the end of the show as we represented a guest collection. And despite the fact we only had eight dresses in our collection, it made a deep impression. When our girls were walking on the stage, other fashion designers, who had already produced their collections, started crying.
The Holy Spirit was touching hearts. It was amazing. We were performing to the music of the song, “Heavenly Jerusalem.” But the people were impressed by neither the music nor the dresses. That was the beauty of God’s presence. Right before us there performed a bride – all naked in lace and with a loop on her neck and a pale face like a dead woman’s. What a contrast it was! At the end of the performance a representative from an English fashion magazine said, “Everything you are doing is nice but I’d rather order a wedding dress for my bride from “Paradise.” That was a victory! This way even the most modest of our collections glorified God. Our performances were shown on TV by leading channels and millions of viewers listened to me testifying about God’s love and beauty. We got letters from all corners of Russia in which people were sharing how they were moved by the message of God’s beauty.
And yet, that was not what God had shown me in the vision. We kept on praying and believing God would look after making His vision come true.
In 1994 we showed our collection at a conference of Christian businessmen where it was estimated like “a prophetic vision of Heavenly clothes which God will dress us in one day.”
During the intermission I noticed an elderly gentleman speaking French. I ran up to him saying I was praying for revival in France and handed him my business card. He was a bit surprised (we found out later, that he was Swiss) and accepted it.
Three months later we got a fax from that man – Leonard Betex. “I don’t know who you are but I have your business card and God has already been speaking to me about you for three months. We must meet and I’m inviting you to China.”
God’s people from different countries gathered at Beijing’s Sheraton; a pastor from an underground church in Beijing, a minister from South Korea and a Christian from UNESCO. After we prayed, Leonard said “God has put it on my heart to help you. What am I supposed to do?”
We had believed in God’s miracle and had been waiting for that moment for many years. When it finally came, it felt so easy and natural as if there had not been all those tears and doubts and as if we had not had to wait all those years. God was smiling at us from Heaven. I presented a pile of sketches and said,
“God wants us to do this but we don’t know how, we need a fabrics.”
“Naturally in France, in Lyons”
“Well, then we are going to Lyons”
We lived between Saône and Rhône. In the morning at breakfast we enjoyed the view of the mountains covered in greenery. Then we used to go to ancient Lyon factories producing fabrics for high fashion. They have been producing silks for 300-400 years - the best fabrics in the world.
We used to show our sketches using it as the platform for telling people about the Lord and His miraculous deeds. God touched people’s hearts, who were the managers and owners of the oldest and most famous fabric-producing factories in the world.
A lady in one of the show rooms, a real lioness from the world of haute couture, started crying when we showed her the sketches. God touched her heart right there in Champs-Élysées and she was feeling bemused and didn’t understand what was happening to her.
God loves people. He came to the world for each and every person and He is ready to speak our language to us even if it is the language of fashion, colors, lines, the language of beauty and harmony.
The collection of 56 dresses was created in four years. The best fabrics were chosen to glorify the name of Jesus. Skilled tailors and embroiders spent hundreds and hundreds of hours of laborious work to make a single dress. The making of the collection totaled close to a quarter of a million dollars.
When a French lady working, in the sphere of haute couture, saw the collection when it was ready, she said that it was obviously the last collection created according to all standards of high fashion with the use of such a great quality of highly-professional manual labor and only the most expensive exclusive French fabrics. She said that not even the leading fashion designers of the world can afford to make a few dresses of such fabrics in their collection but not fifty-six like we did!
All of that was accomplished for a single purpose – to Glorify the Lord before all Nations!
The first show of the collection took place in Jerusalem in 1998.
We had a few shows at a Christian fest where the best Christian singers and dancers take part. Thousands of Christians from different parts of the world were rejoicing after seeing our show. Hundreds of Jews received the Gospel of Jesus coming to see the show.
God had in His plans for us.
There is a special place in Jerusalem. The Jews say it’s the most beautiful place in the world. That is the place where even stones testify about the Son of the God. There is a big fortress at Jaffa Gate in the Old City – the Citadel. It’s like a layer cake where history and culture of Jerusalem have been built for three thousand years layer after layer. Israel’s Bohemia, high society and people of arts treat the Citadel with a special trepidation. But for Christians the place is special because there Jesus was standing before Herod and was being mocked at. He was dressed in elegant clothes like a jester.
“When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had wanted to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate” (Luke 28:8-11)
God wanted us to glorify Jesus right in the place where he was mocked and before the descendants of the people who saw Christ’s disgrace. I was praying: “Dear Lord God, what are we? Our hearts are not circumcised, we are full of doubts and some of us are even non-believers…do you really want to use us so imperfect for such a great labor? I’m a person with an impure mouth and I live among people with impure mouths”
Even now, writing this, I can’t hold back tears. “Dear Lord God, how good You are that You don’t look upon us like sinners as we are but You take us and purify us with Your blood and a hot flame of Your Love. Send me. Here I am. I’m not worthy, but if You send me, I’ll go wherever You want me to”
God made the show take place in the Citadel. He put a desire in the heart of a general, a hero of the six-day war, to organize the presentation of our collection for Israel’s high society. Over three hundred people, most of them VIP’s, including the Chief of Israel’s police, were present at the show.
Preaching Gospel is forbidden in Israel. Moreover, we were not allowed to speak about Christ. But nobody can forbid the Holy Spirit to testify about Jesus. The Holy Spirit Himself was speaking about Jesus during the show. The models’ faces sanctified with such a rich anointing that you couldn’t help laughing and crying at the same time. And people were crying. Some people stood up from their seats and continued watching the show standing. A woman came to us back-stage several times and kept saying, “Jerusalem has never seen anything like this,” while her eyes were shining like two stars. I do know God made His changes in the hearts of the people present there that night. We couldn’t see the fruit immediately as we are not reapers. God poured His elixir of life on the dry land.
Today I think how fabulous it is that Jesus was glorified and named the King through the dresses of light made by simple Russian women right in the place where He was mocked at and took disgrace from the Jewish King and aristocracy. It was our privilege and His mercy on us.
When I got back home, I didn’t know what to do further. Amazingly, all the dresses were in a complete order even after photo-sessions in Caesarea and in the garden of Gethsemane kindly opened to us by Franciscan monks.
The next show took place in the Capital of Wales Cardiff in 2000. Later, there was a new collection created based on the Song of Songs of Solomon. More shows took place in Australia (Sydney).
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been the full show of the collection, “The Olive Tree in the Garden of the Lord” in Russia yet. Some parts of the collection were demonstrated in the Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow) and the Yusupov Palace (St. Petersburg) and some other places.
I dream that one day we will be able to glorify the Lord with a big show in Russia.
I dream about shows in Los Angeles and Washington, in Paris and Beijing.
I believe that God wants to use this unusual tool of worship – “velvet liturgy” – so that those people who don’t know Him yet can find Him and give Him all Glory!