Kseniaschnaider, Elenareva, and Nadya Dzyak, three fashion designers from Ukraine came together for a special Ukrainian Fashion Week showcase during London Fashion Week, despite the ongoing war in their country with Russia.
At the joint spring/summer 2024 catwalk show, supported by the USAID Competitive Economy Program in Ukraine, an audio message told attendees that the collections were designed and produced despite the air raid sirens and missile attacks in the country and were the designer’s “resistance to war”.
Since the start of the war, more than 65 Ukrainian fashion brands have introduced their collection to the international fashion scene in cities, including London and New York, as part of Ukrainian Fashion Week’s ‘Support Ukrainian Fashion’ Initiative.
Womenswear brand Nadya Dzyak was inspired by the work of Ukrainian artist Polina Raiko, whose museum house in Oleshky, Ukraine, was flooded after the Russian destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. This translated into an SS24 collection filled with vibrant, optimistic pastel colours of pink, turquoise, and lilac, and intricate textures and ruffles, arranged in geometric patterns, depicting the surreal patterns and shapes from the Raiko's paintings.
The weightless-looking signature transparent ruffles offer an illusionary optical effect throughout the collection and were made using the pleating technique produced in Kharkiv, despite the regular shelling of the city.
Commenting on her collection in the show notes, Dzyak said: "After the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station disaster, entire villages and towns in southern Ukraine submerged underwater. One of the most famous art landmarks, the museum-house of the naive artist Polina Raiko in Oleshky, was also flooded.
“The walls and ceilings of the rooms in it were completely covered with unique and extraordinary paintings, which Mrs. Polina created herself, purely from the heart. I wanted to transfer her paintings onto our dresses, to convey this mood. We must cherish our artistic heritage with all our love, even if it has been washed away by water.”
Dzyak also showcased colourful denim pieces utilising fabric processed at a specialised production facility in Odessa, which were dyed on the porch of her parent’s house, who she rarely sees now due to the war.
"My father helped me hand-dye clothes and dry them in the sun. There was something archaic, almost ritualistic in this process. It made me reflect again on how we will carry the metaphysics of our heritage into the future, everyday life, traditions, parental love," added the designer.
Other highlights included voluminous, hand-stitched warm bomber jackets in bright colours, decorated with 3D flowers and checkered mini-dresses, and asymmetrical silk sundresses.
Kyiv-based Kseniaschnaider, founded in 2011 by Ksenia Schnaider and Anton Schnaider, opened the showcase with a spring/summer 2024 collection exploring contrasting elements and combinations, including traditional and new technologies. This was seen with AI-generated denim silhouettes, the Cossack jeans, which are a tribute to Ukrainian traditional costume and knitted skirts and blazers handcrafted by hand yarn denim in traditional rug technique and denim sleepwear.
Kseniaschnaider, which makes all its apparel in Ukraine, also presented new festive silhouettes made with materials that imitated drapes rooted in Eastern European aesthetic, as well as pieces created with innovative sustainable fabrics and textures, including skirts, blazers and jeans made with jacquard denim and aged-look denim dyed with recycled finish made by cork stoppers.
The Ukrainian label also presented the second drop of its Adidas Originals x Kseniaschnaider collaboration, including a patchwork dress in the Ukrainian yellow and blue colours.
Ukrainian designer Olena Reva was inspired by the ‘Mother Goddess’ for SS24, a supernatural from the ancient Trypillian culture that embodies the continuity of life as a steadfast and fearless protector. The exploration of female power was showcased in corsets worn with palazzo pants, chiffon transparent dresses, and silk tailoring.
Reva also featured prints inspired by ornaments on Trypillian clay jugs in collaboration with the artist Lina Nechipolina, which sat in contrast to feminine floral motifs and abstract prints depicting a bull, inspired by how people worshipped the image of the Mother Goddess sitting on a bull, symbolising fertility and a good harvest.
The collection also highlighted Ukrainian traditions with skirts called "plakhta" over voluminous pants and two new bags developed in collaboration with Ukrainian brand Bagllet.