Seven Ukrainian designers showing collections at Paris Fashion Week

The clothes have all been produced by hand against the backdrop of war, with the help of the country's USAID Competitive Economy Programme

Paskal is a Ukrainian brand showing at Paris Fashion Week. Photo: USAID
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Seven emerging designers from Ukraine have been showing their autumn/winter 2023 collections at Paris Fashion Week.

They are supported by the USAID Competitive Economy Programme that is working to uphold the Ukrainian fashion industry in the midst of war. The aim is to bring emerging designers to a new, global audience as well as to secure attention, orders and ultimately, safeguard jobs.

The collections on show are all the more remarkable for having been produced by hand, against the backdrop of power cuts, air raid sirens and needing to decamp ateliers to bomb shelters. Despite all of the difficulties faced by the designers, this is the second such outing to Paris Fashion Week.

Frolov, known for its daring and surrealist eveningwear, is one such name. The label found fame creating a mini-dress for Beyonce to wear during her private party performance at Dubai's Atlantis The Royal’s hotel. The piece included body-con pieces, including a fitted all-in-one body suit of kick-flare trousers topped with a faux-nude bustier, with a golden, sequinned heart.

Kachorovska, meanwhile is one of Ukraine’s most well known brands, crafting shoes and footwear. Known for its ankle boots in distressed leather, it is expected to be popular with the Parisian crowd.

Another name is My Sleeping Gypsy, that is built around sustainability, and utilises motifs from Ukrainian heritage. Using the patterning that adorns traditional garb, these have now been updated to cover loose, shift-cut dresses and simple separates for a modern audience.

Label Chereshnivska uses hand-drawn prints across its largely unisex range. This season's collection is made from predominately recycled materials, while taking inspiration from the creative scene in Kyiv.

Another name is Katerina Kvit, whose take on minimalistic luxury is about well-tailored pieces with a subversive twist. Paskal, on the other hand, offers playful riffs on flower patterning that lifts off the surface. Finally, Olena Dats' brings old-school glam to the French capital with satin gowns featuring integrated capes and trains.

The project is the brainchild of Jen Sidary, who has been working to support Ukrainian fashion designers since 2020, and in September 2021 first took them to join Paris Fashion Week.

Initially conceived to support the fledgling industry in the face of the pandemic, it has since taken on a greater urgency following the invasion by Russia last year. Sidary says that Ukrainian fashion was a "hidden gem“ despite everything that was going on. "I have huge respect for all the people of Ukraine and for how they are adapting their lives to survive and continue to grow," she said.

Meanwhile, Olesya Zaluska, chief of party of the USAID Competitive Economy Programme, added why it is vital to help out the hard-hit industry. “Ukrainian fashion businesses have a huge potential to win the hearts and minds of those who appreciate quality and design ... [that will] contribute to the nascent recovery of the economy.”

Updated: September 27, 2023, 8:09 AM