STRENGTH AND FORTITUDE: While Ukrainians and their supporters marked Friday’s one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, two designers unveiled new projects as a sign of solidarity.
Ukrainian eveningwear designer Lessja Verlingieri, who runs her Lever Couture business from Los Angeles, has started the “Love Letter to Ukraine” project. She is encouraging people to upload love letters that turn into an artistic digital dress that is also being incorporated into a handmade couture dress. Notables like the actress Milla Jovovich, musician Kesha, designer Nicola Formichetti and actress Vera Farmiga have already pitched in. Verlingieri has previously dressed such celebrities as Lady Gaga.
Verlingieri teamed up with her creative director Jenny Williams, art director Ricci Williams and representatives OWOW Agency and Marketing for the endeavor. Using a piece of digital art as a starting point, the team collaborated with digital artist Oliver Latta, Volumetric studio DNE and Real Motion and the Ukrainian musician Tina Karol. The dress is digitally embroidered with words of love that loosely map the borders of Ukraine.
In addition, Lever Couture and the creative team have recreated a physical version of the dress. The idea is that as additional love letters are uploaded, they will be added to the virtual image. That artwork and the actual dress will be auctioned at a later date with the proceeds earmarked to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. One hundred percent of all the donations that are raised will be given to the Zelenska Foundation, the organization started by the country’s first lady Olena Zelenska that is dedicated to restoring the “human capital” of Ukraine. As of this month, more than 8,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and millions have crossed borders into neighboring countries, according to the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Separately, in another art-minded project, Alina Kachorovska, creative designer of the Kachorovska company, photographed her spring advertising campaign amidst the emptied-out galleries in the National Museum of Ukraine. All of the artwork in the museum has been removed for safekeeping due to the ongoing war. From her perspective, the empty frames on the walls symbolize the emptiness and hopelessness that many Ukrainians are feeling, but the acceptance of such conditions rings out the strength of one’s inner self. To relay that, a model poses looking somewhat unfazed and wearing designs from the collection.
The barren setting is also meant to evoke memories of the past and self-reflection. Well aware that “the whole world” is now looking at Ukraine, the designer said, “We are changing the world. Today.”
Launched during the Cold War in 1957, Kachorovska now has 150 employees in its shoe factory in Kyiv, as well as two retail stores. Her creations have been worn by Zelenska. Last year the company repositioned to produce boots for members of the Ukrainian army. Although the National Museum of Ukraine is closed to the public, Kachorovska arranged to photograph the campaign there through personal connections, a company spokeswoman said Friday.