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Correspondent 22

Sure, Women’s Day is Coming Up, but so is Ukrainian Fashion Week

by Paul Miazga

March 8 is known in quite a number of countries, Ukraine included, as International Women’s Day. Unlike Valentine’s Day, which is a day to celebrate love, Women’s Day is a day to celebrate and fete the fairer sex. I like the holiday, especially as this year the Ukrainian government has also made the day after, Friday, March 9, a holiday, making for a four-day weekend.

But this isn’t the only reason for me to like Women’s Day. Another reason to like it is that it comes just before the traditional start of Ukrainian Fashion Week (“Sezony Mody” in local parlance).

Ukrainian Fashion Week, which this year runs from Mar. 14-20 at Kyiv’s Alta Center Mall on Moskovsky Prospekt, has gone from being a local curiosity to an event with growing international significance. In the past, a largely self-congratulating Ukrainian fashion industry would spend a few days in March and September allowing long-established – but not necessarily talented – local designers to dress their young models in near-laughable excuses for prêt a porter.

Then in 2004 Italian designer Paco Rabane, and the following year the Dolce & Gabbana design house, arrived to give a much-needed boost to the local industry. Some Ukrainian designers, such as Victoria Gres, Liliya Poustovit (who spent much of her 20s living in Paris working as a designer’s understudy), Andre Tan and Anna Bublik had already begun to make names for themselves here, but their creations were little known outside the former Soviet Union. The arrival of Rabane and D&G quickly changed all that.

In just the last three years the Ukrainian fashion industry has received considerable technical and financial help, the result being that the fabrics, cuts and designs of the designers mentioned above, and many more besides, have improved immeasurably. Some Ukrainian designers are even producing limited collections now for the likes of Rabane and D&G. More than anything, though, the industry has received international exposure, which will prove vital in further spurring the industry to grow and improve.

And here is the reason I like Women’s Day in Ukraine: it reminds me that women in Ukraine have a future not just sewing clothes for international designers, but in developing the domestic fashion industry and thereby helping diversify the Ukrainian economy. The Ukrainian fashion industry, in its own small way, is encouraging the spread of creative ideas, individualism and pride in Ukraine. Currently, women in factories in western Ukraine are producing designs for other, well-known European fashion designers, but the clothes (and their work) typically end up being labeled, “Made in Italy”. Soon, the labels will say, “Made in Ukraine”. And that, to me, is something worth celebrating.

Anna Sui has not yet sent representatives from her design label to Ukraine in the past, but that could well change this year. (Photo courtesy of Elle Russia)


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