Despite the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine and the political unrest in the region, Kiev-based Yuliya Magdych is committed to building her signature label there.
In the two years since she launched a collection of dresses inspired by the“vyshyvanka,” the traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt, the designer said international demand was there from the start. Her creations draw from embroidery she saw in museums, private collections and her travels in the region. “The Ukrainian national dress has become very patriotic. We want to act like a nation. Everybody wants to be united,” the designer said in a phone interview Monday.
While such optimism may be overstating the circumstances, Magdych said, “Now we have war but in the rest of the Ukraine, things are quite calm. We have beautiful production and a lot of experts. This difficult situation has given us power to find a way. We want to live there, make our industry grow and change it, too.”
Having established accounts with Moda Operandi and Kirna Zabête, Magdych is focusing more on the U.S. business. After 98 years, Surma — The Ukrainian Shop, in the East Village recently revealed it is closing. The store is in a neighborhood that was once known as “Little Ukraine,” but has dwindled due to the city’s burgeoning commercial development. The Yuliya Magdych label is sold in 50 stores in Japan, Korea, China, the Middle East, the U.K. and other regions. “I am happy that they like Ukrainian motifs in so many places,” she said.
Selfridges, one of her larger retail accounts, recently picked up her new bridal line. The collection will retail from $1,800 to $4,000. In addition to off-the-rack wedding gowns, she offers customized ones that may require one to two months of intricate handwork. “I really appreciate creating ones in different colors and different shapes. We embroider pearls, semiprecious stones and gold leaf designs so that every piece is unique and we don’t repeat it. Now with fashion, everything is the same. I like having special clients who want special dresses.”
Magdych is broadening her offerings with special little handbags in unexpected colors that will retail from $1,000 to $1,500. “They are quite different. I find all the special bags are very similar,” she said.
Scarves are also in development. To avoid the weight of embroidery, the designer is creating hand-painted silk ones with images of embroidery that will retail for between $300 and $1,000. Born in Lviv, Magdych has a store in Kiev and plans to open another in Al-Riyadh in September. Another item on her check list is a semicouture collection of silk-lined embroidered velvet coats inspired by the unlikely pairing of Marie Antoinette and Beau Brummell.