by Tia Janowski
On the second evening of London Fashion Week 2023, UA in UK Community took over Stationer’s Hall in central London to showcase the work of five Ukrainian brands and designers. The historical building was transformed into a location fit for a fashion show, with its grand architecture and interior design heightening the designs and bringing them to life. Hosted by Mariia Vynogradova, a popular Ukrainian radio and TV presenter and sponsored by Ukrainian cosmetics brand, Irene Bukur, the event was the perfect ode to Ukrainian talent.
Following the conflict in Ukraine, over 130,000 Ukrainians have relocated to the UK. Many of them had previously worked in the fashion industry and now face the challenge of establishing themselves in a new country. Created in November 2022 by Ukrainian PR and fashion entrepreneur, Aleksandra Volkova, UA in UK Community aims to promote and support Ukrainians in the fashion industry. By participating in London Fashion Week, they had the opportunity to introduce Ukrainian names, both established and up-and-coming in Europe, to British fashion.
First in the show was Galushko, a Ukrainian brand produced in the UK that fuses natural entities with a reimagining of the future. Anastasiia Halushko created this collection to revive the couture of past centuries, with an emphasis on inclusivity, naturalness, and traditions from other cultures. With a philosophy to explore the different boundaries between the old and new, the collection features a variety of textures and recycled materials alongside a substantial use of hand embroidery, intricate shapes and draped fabrics in a variety of natural tones. These techniques allow the designs to showcase the human body in a new and unexplored way whilst incorporating more traditional styles.
Following this collection, we saw Slanovskiy; a well-known wedding and formal dress brand in Europe, America and the Middle East, showcasing their first collection of predominantly evening wear. Slanovskiy, based in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, aims to empower women to embrace new trends while staying true to their individual styles. The showcase exuded elegance with gowns made of luxury, shimmery, flowing fabrics and intricate patterns. These dresses are designed to flatter and accentuate the female body while still being comfortable and appropriate for any formal occasion.
Mandyradzhy, a Ukrainian brand based in London, presented their latest collection rooted in minimalism and exploring the deconstruction of natural elements. Highlighting the main characteristics of the brand, the designs featured sturdy fabrics in a range of neutral colours combined with clean lines and asymmetrical shapes to create interesting cut-outs. The showstopper of this collection was a mini dress that exposed the shoulders with slouchy, oversized woollen sleeves that took Ilona Mandyradzhy 30 hours to create. Despite the heavy fabric of the sleeves, the tassels flowing from the dress and the arrangement of the sleeves allowed the dress to evoke an essence of femininity through form and movement.
Ego Sum, produced in Kyiv, Ukraine, is a new brand that despite this, has already captured the hearts of many Ukrainian women. With the brand's focus on combining inner harmony with external appearance, the collection showcased a variety of elegant evening gowns, seventies-inspired mini dresses and trench coats. The brand's philosophy of empowerment was clear, with their use of masculine styles such as suits, made in an incredibly feminine and flattering form. By sticking to neutral and block colours that featured very few patterns, the craftmanship in the designs was able to stand out, showing off the structural integrity of each design.
To finish off the show we saw the newest collection from Jean Gritsfeldt, a brand founded in 2012 by designer Levgen Gritsfeldt. Produced in Kyiv, the designs push the boundaries of the fashion industry, with Gritsfeldt creating the brand to challenge conventions, ignite imaginations and redefine what it means to be stylish. In the press release, Gritsfeldt said, “We are committed to fostering a community of individuals who are passionate about self-expression and personal growth.
Through our fashion line and empowering message, we aim to help individuals break free from conformity and stand out from the crowd, unleashing their full potential and living their best lives”. The collection features a variety of clashing patterns, gold body plates and empowering text to tell the story of his inspirations. Whilst the first part of the collection used a lot of gold and natural tones, in the second half we saw a large use of red, white and black. This allowed the two parts of the collection to stand out amongst each other whilst still remaining cohesive as a collection due to the stylistic choices.
The UA in UK Community showcase displayed the passion and inspiration of five Ukrainian designers, giving them a space to present their work to British brands, influencers and publications. The show perfectly reflected the work and goals of Ukrainian artists living in the UK following the war, featuring contributions from Ukrainian sponsors, hosts, photographers, models, and designers. UA in UK Community has done an exceptional job at raising awareness for Ukrainian designers and giving them a platform within the UK. Each designer brought a different and fresh idea of fashion to the runway and we can’t wait to see what they will do next.