Ukraine Fashion Week Goes On, Despite Unrest

Ukraine Fashion Week has begun, but many were unsure if it would occur at all. With war possibly looming in the distance and continued unrest at home, the founders and designers of Ukraine’s yearly fashion celebration have decided to press on.

The six day event kicked off late last week and is showcasing Ukraine’s Fall 2014 lines in the impressive Mystetskyi Arsenal art complex in Keiv, reports Khaleej Times.Though it's now in full swing, the founders, Iryna Danylevska and Oleksandr Sokolovsky, and many of the nearly 40 designers questioned whether the shows should happen this year. Many were a part of the Maidan movement that helped topple the pro-Russian government last month and wondered if hosting a glamorous fashion event amidst the turmoil would be appropriate.

“We thought of postponing Ukrainian Fashion Week, but when the Crimea situation began we knew we had to do it now. We need to show the outside world that we’re unbroken and that we’re strong.” said Danylevska to Khaleej Times.

Ukraine's political instability kept foreign designers away, and two Ukrainian designers were unable to participate due to protests disrupting their work, but the majority of the Ukrainian fashion industry is present to support the event. For them, participating in the shows is a more form of protest, Vanessa Friedman argues in the Financial Times.In the last few years, Ukraine has made a name for itself in the fashion world, thanks to passionate and prominent supporters and fresh talent. Big names like Daria Shapovalova of fashionweek.kiev.ua — seen as the top digital fashion magazine in the Ukraine – and Masha Tsukanova – Editor In Chief of the new Vogue Ukraine, which launched last year — are turning public attention to Ukrainian designers and the women who want to wear their clothes. With the amount of momentum moving Ukrainian fashion forward, it is no surprise that Danylevska and Sokolovsky determined that a cancellation was out of the question.

Over the weekend, nineteen shows were presented. Some collections were joyous with obvious nods to Ukrainian cultural heritage.In their variety, Ukraine Fashion Week seems to have found the appropriate response organizers were concerned about showing. The shows captured the many moods of a country in crisis turning to art for expression and respite.