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23 Things You Might Not Know About Ukraine Fashion Week

Fashion prevails in spite of war.

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5. Relative to your high school graduation, there are kind of a lot of people bringing flowers, to present to the designers.

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Though organizers discourage giving designers flowers on the runway, even if it is frequently adorable—like here, with model and stylist Tatty Bohdan, in Elena Burba.

6. Relative to previous Ukraine Fashion Weeks, there was an absolute scarcity of tiny fashion dogs in the venue, the Mystetskyi Arsenal.

7. This season, designers are showing work despite the ongoing conflict with Russia in eastern Ukraine.

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Former L’Officiel Ukraine editor-in-chief Iryna Danilevska, who founded Ukraine Fashion Week in 1997, said: “People ask why we are having the shows. I say, 'People make bread and sell bread. People build and are paid.' Business must go on, and our business is fashion.”

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8. The fall shows in mid-March took place only weeks after dozens of protesters were killed at Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev’s central square, during demonstrations that led to the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovych.

Courtesy Diane Vadino

Many members of the fashion community took part. Ivan Frolov of Frolov admitted he was running behind on his preparations because he was too busy sewing bulletproof vests for demonstrators.

This season, many designers sought out lighter concepts, colors, and materials, even beyond what you’d normally see in spring style. Frolov showed a strip club-inspired collection.

9. Much like in New York after 9/11, national symbols and flags are everywhere in Kiev.

Diane Vadino

Everywhere includes: cars; shoelaces; construction barriers; windscreens; faces; decorative trees; street lamps; tote bags; building facades; garden planters; baby strollers; and makeshift memorials to the Maidan protesters.

11. Yuliya Polishchuk showed a gorgeous print based on the image of wheat.

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After Maidan, we felt like women would only go out in quite a restricted way, that their femininity was not able to express itself,” says Julia Gerasko, Polishchuk’s textile designer. "So we wanted to do these pieces in very beautiful, feminine colors and fabrics, like silk.”

12. Lake designer Olesya Kononova says she looked up from one of her pieces and realized that by adding a yellow belt, she’d taken the color palette straight from the Ukrainian flag.

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13. Lake is a favorite of Ukraine’s fashion ambassadors—here’s Vogue Ukraine’s editor-in-chief, Maria Tsukanova, wearing a gray Lake coat at the spring fashion shows in Milan last month.

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She’s on the left. Fashion editor Olga Yanul, right, is wearing Lake boots and a leather jacket from another Ukrainian label, Helen Migdisova’s Obrani.

14. Some political gestures were more explicit—like the Ukraine Inspired promotion.

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Sales of the sweatshirts, desk calendars, and iPhone covers, designed by Fedor Vozianov, will support medical supplies and treatment for Ukrainian soldiers returning from the east.

15. One thing we will probably not see at New York Fashion Week is an artwork like the one by Anna Poteshkina.

Diane Vadino

She presented an installation at the Arsenal with tanks made from balloons and the figure of a boy painted in the colors of the Russian flag, to suggest that not all Russian people should be viewed as the enemy.

16. Sure, some elements felt unique to the time and place.

Image courtesy Soren Jepsen of thelocals.dk

Master leatherworker Sergey Petrov showed up to share his Bob Basset masks. William Gibson called one the “single-best steampunk object I’ve seen.” Petrov was a lawyer (“It was the family trade,” he says) before working on the masks with this late brother, Oleg. Givenchy put them on their runways in 2011, and other clients include Lars Ulrich from Metallica and Sid Wilson from Slipknot.

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18. Things got a little Sprockets-y.

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And now we dance!

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