Shadrinsky The daredevil creative duo behind fashion’s viral videos

WordsKyle MacNeill

Even high fashion needs big moments to compete with the 24-hour news cycle, streaming services and group chats for eyeballs and sustained attention. That’s where creative duo Shadrinsky comes in. From filming models rolling down sand dunes for Jean Paul Gaultier to smashing up the Marc Jacobs office, Yulya Shadrinsky and Marita Gurcciani create stylishly surreal social media moments. In this piece, fashion’s buzziest partnership takes writer Kyle MacNeill behind the scenes of their death-defying acts.

It would seem safe to assume that Shadrinsky’s dangerous scenarios are entirely fabricated—after all, who has spun around face down on top of a pneumatic drill, walked a pack of Afghan hounds through a desert, robbed a jewelry store in a fur coat or raced motorbikes through a ring of fire?—but Marita Gurcciani, one half of fashion’s fast-growing stunt double act, is adamant that this is not the case. The duo’s daredevil videos, she insists, are based on lived experience.

“Both Yulya [Shadrinsky] and I are very powerful girls, as are the girls that surround us. So when brands ask us to show a powerful woman, we recreate situations from our lives,” Marita explains. She’s used to the chaotic vision of her accomplice, Yulya.

“When we met, Yulya said I wasn’t as wild as the other girls she took to parties,” she laughs. Marita first met Yulya when she moved from Prague to Paris in 2015. Looking for an internship and somewhere to stay, she stumbled across the photographer, who had been shooting everything from raves to weddings to backstage content for the likes of Dazed. They hit it off straight away. 

“She started to invite me to some fashion week parties so I joined her,” Marita says. Taking her up on her offer to work together, Marita pushed Yulya to focus on her beauty photography. “We erased all her previous works so that people couldn’t find her online,” she says defiantly.

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“Both Yulya and I are very powerful girls, as are the girls that surround us.”

Starting again from scratch, the duo decided to turn down any project that didn’t fit their vision. After hustling for a few years shooting portraits for the likes of Numero Magazine, they became disillusioned with the closed shop of the fashion industry and the lack of pay. So they decided to go for broke, making their own films instead. “Yulya said she wanted to make videos that would be very static but feature something moving,” Marita says. By this point, Shadrinsky had cemented their vision: creating stylish, action movie style stunts that warrant a double take. Imagine “Jackass” but dressed in Jacquemus, and you’re halfway there. 

They produced a portfolio of videos with the little budget they had. These white-knuckle clips quickly became red-hot on Instagram. Working in Prague during lockdown and assembling a crack team of first-time-producers, the duo continued to post videos, leading to Alexander Wang hiring them for a project. “Every reference in the creative deck was one of our own videos. We were so happy,” Marita says. The result was a series of Reel-length videos featuring models karate-kicking bottles, going heel-to-pedal-to-metal on motorbikes and hanging out of drifting cars.

The videos caught the attention of other brands and, suddenly, Shadrinsky were inundated with commissions. “We try to have our signature style in each video. We want people to recognise our work,” she says, explaining that they stick to the same neutral color palette and slightly lo-fi style. The pair are happiest when they are given carte blanche to cause chaos, like when The M Jewelers asked them to create a campaign video. 

“They asked us to make something viral which seemed impossible as jewelry is so tiny. Then we came up with the idea of staging a robbery. The client was laughing so much,” she says. The result was a fake heist, filmed as if it were caught on CCTV. Since then, the dastardly duo have sent models down sand dunes for Jean Paul Gaultier, had them flailing on horseback for Mugler and flying out of golf buggies for Chimi. 

Unlike most beauty shoots, Shadrinsky’s involve stunt coordinators, ambulances, firefighters and security. “In Prague we have one of the best stunt teams in Europe. Most of the action movies are shot here,” Marita says, explaining that while most of them have never done anything fashion-related before, they’re keen to get stuck in.

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Through their repeated work with Marc Jacobs and its Gen Z offshoot label Heaven, they’re now choreographing celebrities. For these videos, the stunts shapeshift into safer skits. “You can’t ask famous people to break glass or go through a window. Yulya is the one who is wild and crazy and said that if we have a chance to shoot Paris Hilton we can ask her to smash things. I was like, no, we can’t do that,” Marita says acerbically. 

Whether they’re causing feelings of fear, confusion or schadenfreude, Shadrinksy’s videos trigger powerful emotional responses in a matter of seconds—the kind that algorithms adore. “So many people share the videos and have no idea they’re ads. People believe them and send them to their friends. It’s secret advertising,” Marita laughs. The duo aim to bring high fashion back down to earth with a crash, bang and a wallop. “Luxury houses take themselves too seriously and create a distance between them and their audience. People see those beautiful, glamorous campaigns and videos and don’t feel like they belong to that,” she says.

While people have caught onto their tricks and begun to recognise “a Shadrinsky,” their growth hasn’t stunted. In fact, they want their stunts to grow. “When people ask us to burn or break something or drift a car now it’s easy. We don’t want to do that anymore,” Marita says. After all, they’re already at the stage of designing the exact shape of an explosion. “We recently exploded a house in Russia. It was filled with dynamite,” she says.

So what’s on the smoke-filled horizon? “We want to work with big toys like helicopters and planes and motorboats. And work with people that shot Hollywood action sequences in the 80s and 90s before drones,” she says with a wicked smile. Their real aim? Make a full, feature-length film. “The Shadrinsky Movie!” Marita exclaims. The entire Czech stunt performer industry can expect a Shadrinsky-shaped boom.