paskal
paskal

Ukrainian designers turn crisis into creativity at London Fashion Week

 (Imaxtree)

(Imaxtree)

February 2022, a catastrophic moment in history struck the world– Russia invaded Ukraine. In a country, pockmarked with grief, the unimaginable suddenly became part of the everyday for many of its people.

Despite daily bombings, rockets flying overhead and cities decimated to ruins, slowly but surely life must go on. And rather than fixating on the tragedy, some of the country’s design talents are turning inward, and funnelling their fears into creativity. They are emboldened; using their craft as a means to amplify the voices of their homeland and their people.

There’s Ivan Frolov, Julia Paskal and Ksenia Schnaider —  who were invited by the British Fashion Council yesterday to present their AW23 collections at London Fashion Week– and have found a sense of comfort and community through fashion.

“It is a great pleasure to show collections with our UK friends. We have this opportunity to show in a fashion capital which means we can continue doing what we actually do the best— create,” says Ksenia Schnaider, founder of Kyiv-based brand Kseniaschaider. Ongoing international encouragement and backing from the “Support Ukrainian Fashion” initiative gives her and many others hope for the future of her home country. “I want to do something beautiful. I think it is my responsibility to give something new to the world. So that we can overcome this darkness.”

Thus, colour is the object of Schnaider’s AW23 collection. Emotionally connected pieces drawn from a palette of blue and yellow-the colours of the Ukrainian flag. “Somehow it’s a very normal desire of a human to overcome something bad, you want to create something beautiful, bright, positive,” she says. “Last year was the year of surviving, it feels like a miracle to show our work on the runway.”

 (Imaxtree)

(Imaxtree)

Produced entirely under air raid sirens

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Meet the Ukrainian Designers Bringing Resourcefulness and Optimism to London Fashion Week

On the final morning of London Fashion Week, a trio of Ukrainian designers showed their latest collections in the Newgen runway space of the Old Selfridges Hotel: thousands of miles away from their hometowns and studios, and even further away from where they likely imagined they would be 12 months ago. (February 24 marks one year since Russia first announced the full-scale invasion of Ukraine that continues to this day.) 

An initiative spearheaded by the organizers of Ukrainian Fashion Week and supported by the British Fashion Council, the significance of its timing didn’t go unnoticed. “It’s very important for us to show that one year on, we have not been manipulated by the war,” said Ivan Frolov of the brand Frolov, known for its corsets, crystals, and camp; all of which were very much present on this week’s runway. “We are so strong that, even under these terrible circumstances, the DNA of our brands hasn’t changed.”

While it would have been impossible to stage the show in Ukraine under the current circumstances, the majority of the fashion community there—even those who have relocated abroad temporarily—still have their studios, pay taxes, produce, and perhaps most importantly of all, have friends, family, and supporters still in their homeland. The showcase proved that even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, the designers’ spirits have yet to be dampened. “I’d be working in my studio and I’d hear rockets flying, or we’d have to run to the bomb shelter,” said Julia Paskal of Paskal, with a shrug. “But that’s just our lives now.”

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