PARIS — As buyers and brands bustled to get their booths ready for the opening of the Tranoï trade show on Friday, Ukrainian designer Lilia Litkovskaya stood alone in front of a yellow and blue flag dotted with flowers, a laptop in front of her.
“We are here in Paris, with all my colleagues [represented] through QR codes. We [should] have been in New York Fashion Week, London Fashion Week or Paris Fashion Week but some aggressors decided [otherwise],” she said, likening Ukraine to a first responder protecting the European bloc and by the extension the world from suffering a similar fate.
As the sole Ukrainian designer to have reached Paris at this point, she wanted to ensure her fellow creatives are not forgotten. The QR codes, also collected on the ArtcodeUA Instagram account, link to the works and profiles of photographers, artists and designers.
Among them are Central Saint Martins graduate Masha Reva, an illustrator and fashion designer whose graduate collection focused on the 2014 events in Ukraine; Vita Kin, whose line draws from the traditional vyshyvanka dress; cold-weather outerwear specialists Ienki Ienki, and Anton Belinskiy, who had been showing in Paris until the pandemic and announced he had enlisted in a territorial defense unit in Kyiv.
What she expects from the industry is for it to use its platforms to speak out on the plight of Ukrainian civilians and push for peace. “Influencers who really have power with their audience, [all of] fashion society must tell the world what’s going on in Ukraine. Our people and our nation are showing they’re brave, our roots, our culture. Everything we have. Save our country, save everyone from our country,” she pleaded to her audience, which included Paris deputy mayors Olivia Polski, in charge of commerce, fashion and craftsmanship, and Frédéric Hocquard, who has tourism in his remit.
For the organizers of the Paris-based trade show, offering Litkovskaya a platform had been a natural decision. “We are affected by the situation. As an industry, because this will have long-ranging consequences, but most of all from a human point of view,” said Tranoï’s president Boris Provost, whose thoughts went to designer Milla Nova, slated to exhibit at the trade show but who is still currently in Ukraine.
“You are part of the family,” the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode’s executive president Pascal Morand told Litkovskaya somberly as she thanked him and representatives of the Paris city hall for coming. He lauded “her grace and her courage in this terrible moment,” and her actions to ensure that “the voice of Ukrainian fashion and creation continues to be heard.”
After fielding questions from journalists in person and over a broadcast, she pleaded with “everyone to stay with Ukraine, stand with Ukraine” by attending an anti-war demonstration on Saturday in Paris.
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