We spoke to Kiev Fashion Days’ creative director a few weeks before unrest broke out in her home country, and she gave us some very interesting insight into the Ukrainian fashion world and her own career.
Freeze frame: What are you doing right now and where?
I am packing my luggage for the fashion weeks, as I am flying to London tomorrow and I am trying to figure out how many looks I will need for 23 days and how I can fit them into two Samsonites.
You could easily be defined “precocious”. Has there ever been a moment in your career in which you were told you were too young to do what you were doing?
I am sure my young age was a benefit throughout my career. As we know from Carine Roitfeld, fashion is an industry built on the excitement and the energy of youth. So I hope my energy was feeding the fashion system. Moreover, when I started 7 years ago, I was always the youngest one in the room. Now, in most of the cases, I am the oldest one. The fashion industry is regenerating itself with a new generation of creative people. And most of them have every chance to become the next great professionals.
How and when did you discover you had an interest in fashion?
The majority of people working in fashion understood they had fashion blood running in their veins at an early age. It was the same story for myself. I started by reading the copies of Vogue my father bought me and all the books on history of art and fashion we had in our home.
What’s the fashion scene like in Kiev, creatively speaking? Any breakout stars we should watch out for?
In the space of a couple of years, Kiev has become a great fashion capital to watch! You can read stories about Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days and talented designers from Ukraine in British and Italian editions of Vogue, Dazed, Business of Fashion and Style.com. My team and I did everything we could to establish Kiev as a new fashion destination and put it on the world’s fashion map.
Historically, feminism has always a been big game changer in fashion, and right now Ukraine is perceived as a hotbed of feminist revolt, what with the Femen movement and the Asgarda warriors. Have you noticed a shift in how women dress that you might tie to this phenomenon?
When I was at the Gareth Pugh show dedicated to the Asgarda warriors from Ukraine, I was astonished by the beauty, tenderness and strength which was reflected by the clothes. After my backstage interview with Gareth I promised myself to go to Asgarda, which I did. I found the Asgarda warriors in the heart of Ukraine, in the Carpathian mountains, where it took me three change of trains to arrive. What I found were real women who practice martial arts and want to be strong enough to live in the contemporary world.
You worked as an intern at Vogue Japan with living legend Anna Dello Russo. What’s the most important thing you took away from that experience?
Anna Dello Russo is the most sincere person I ever met in the fashion world and she certainly deserves all the accolades for her work. What I learned from Anna is that “Impossible is impossible.” And that fashion is like Noah’s Ark: only the best remain.
Did you ever have a plan B in case your fashion career didn’t work out?
I didn’t think about that before. Maybe I could be a good teacher: I have been giving lectures at Kiev Fashion Institute, often receiving praise from my students. I believe I could succeed in this area, but I prefer to be a multi-tasker.
Is there anything in the latest Missoni collections that you covet?
The shoes, especially the sandals!
What about vintage Missoni? Any pieces you wished you owned?
I wish I owned the Missoni lifestyle! Happiness is all about giving.