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Ukrainian Designers Evolve

Despite the ongoing turmoil in their home country, Ukraine’s designers are more determined than ever to prove their importance on the global fashion map.

PARIS — Despite the ongoing turmoil in their home country, Ukraine’s designers are more determined than ever to prove their importance on the global fashion map; it has even become an element of national pride.

Daria Shapovalova, creative director of Kiev Fashion Days, has made it her mission to build renown for her home country’s creative talent — she made a statement by wearing orange to the shows on Monday — and brought six Ukrainian designers to Paris Fashion Week, including two short-listed for the LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize.

“When I started in fashion journalism seven years ago, I promised myself I would put my country on the fashion map,” said Shapovalova at an event Tuesday evening to rally support. “We [Ukrainians] started this revolution because we wanted to be a part of the European Union. Our designers are European, international designers.”

She said that the past few months have been difficult for the fashion industry in Ukraine. “For retailers, it was difficult, as they were situated in the middle of the conflict and they were forced to close their stores, it’s not good for sales,” said Shapovalova.

Anna October, one of the designers short-listed for the LVMH prize, said that sales within Ukraine have been reduced to nothing since before the holiday season, as people are not in a celebratory frame of mind and stores are closed. But if there is an upside to the current situation, she said, “Now, to be Ukrainian is much more meaningful than ever before, and we’ve been receiving such great support and attention from the international public.”

Producing collections to show has also been a challenge, confessed Yasya Minochkina, who designs under the Yasya label. “It has been really difficult to produce, because all of the fabric comes from Italy and was stuck at the borders; there was no transport, so people couldn’t come to work.”

Nevertheless, the designer managed to produce her collection in time to show during London Fashion Week, and has since picked up new clients including Dover Street Market and Opening Ceremony in the U.S., she said.

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