Marking 25 years of independence, a day-long event in the capital showcased Ukraine’s fashion talent
On August 24th, Ukraine celebrated 25 years of independence. A quarter of a century is a very short time, but it’s been an incredibly meaningful period for Ukrainians – particularly for those born after the revolution who have grown up with a new sense of national pride. While half of Kiev was clad in Ukraine’s national colours of blue and yellow, the new wave of young creative talents pioneering the city’s fashion scene came up with their own way to celebrate the country’s independence, with an event they dubbed ‘One Day Project’.
Staged on a hot summer’s day at various locations around the city, One Day Project was orchestrated by Anton Belinskiy. This 28-year-old designer has run his fashion label for five years now, and had a taste of international recognition with a nomination for the LVMH prize, a show with VFiles in New York, and a window display at London’s Harvey Nichols. But this hasn’t been enough: he decided to use his influence to promote other creative talents emerging from Ukraine. One Day Project was supported by Ukrainian Fashion Week, but demonstrates Belinskiy’s desire to redefine the idea of fashion and luxury to something that Kiev’s new gen resonates with.
Here, we take a closer look at Ukrainian creatives who took part in One Day Project.
The spirit of One Day Project was perhaps best reflected in the designer’s own SS17 collection, which was staged within the spacious halls of the Palace of Sports. The collection was, in Belinskiy’s own words, about the people around him and those encounters in the city. It was clearly about being Ukrainian more generally, too: models wore white sweatshirts printed with ID photos and images of Ukrainian passports. The message, however, was not nationalistic but inclusive: the people in the photos were not all from Kiev – in fact the designer stressed that it didn’t matter where they were from, just that they were part of the city’s creative scene. And that went for himself too, who, though born in Kiev, has a Russian mother and an Israeli father. For him the show was about his extended Kiev family and the young energy of the city.
This energy was reflected in the pristine white running shoes and sport socks – footwear of choice Kiev youth for work and play (at occasions like the city’s notorious raves). The designer’s post-Soviet background was also present in the yellow shiny pantsuits and the ruffles, reminiscent of the frilly white curtains so common at museums and institutional buildings during the Iron Curtain era. The mix of old and new created a strong energy, one that’s relevant both on the international scene and locally. Almost anyone could get their hands on invitations to the show – international journalists found themselves sitting next to Kiev artists, stylists, DJs, skaters and kids from the local area.
Another label present was Subrosa, whose signature item is a flared pantsuit, combining relaxed 70s glamour with the functionality of sportswear. Comfortable and unisex, the brand’s SS17 collection seemed like the ideal uniform for a young and very beautiful ping-pong team, with models playing rounds of the game outside a bar in the city. Subrosa’s clothes are almost futuristic in how versatile they are: the black velvet jumpsuit with one arm cut off almost resembled an evening gown, and yet is probably safe to skateboard in, worn by a boy or girl. The predominant colours in the collection were grey and powder pink, while white sports socks came embroidered with the names of models, revealing the subtly personal nature of the project.
CAT B AGENCY
With independent modelling agencies pushing for diversity appearing worldwide, Ukraine now has its own one: Cat B (short for category B, a nod to the looser attitude and the outsider nature of their casting). To reflect the atmosphere of young Kiev, Anton Belinskiy cast his whole show from Cat B, a group which reflected the wide range of characters you might meet in town on a Friday night. Ukraine has definitely provided the world with plently examples of the archetypal model beauty, but Cat B gives voice to a much-needed alternative.
MASHA REVA AND ARMEN PARSADANOV
Masha Reva graduated from London’s Central Saint Martins with MA in fashion and has been producing collections for her own line since. For One Day Project, however, she participated not as a designer but as an artist. Working in collaboration with photographer Armen Parsadanov, she created a series of portraits of Ukrainian youth who are pictured naked but for paint that Reva artfully applied, which was said to be a reflection of “turbulent inner worlds”. The exploration of the changing face of her country has always been important for Reva – in fact, she has produced numerous drawings and projects reflecting the political changes since the revolution.
As the founder of the notorious club night Cxema (which has helped raise up a new generation of ravers in Kiev), Lepsheev helped put on One Day Project’s afterparty featuring local DJs and Berlin musician Dan Bodan. Having recently launched a new night called Volodya, which is dedicated to the country’s emerging punk and rock scene, Lepsheev and his team have proved that music and clubbing can be a driver for building community and reclaiming urban spaces.
DRAG AND DROP
Womenswear brand Drag and Drop is run by two sisters called Anna and Yulia Grazhdan, and is based on juxtaposing elements associated with classic luxury – such as lace, velvet and gemstones – with the relaxed silhouettes of sportswear. In their new collection, sports bras are teamed with lace bodices, oversized white coats with t-shirt dresses: it’s a combination of classic notions of girliness and the sporty style of today’s Kiev.
Lybid is probably the most enigmatic brand among the participants of One Day Project. Named after the half-drained river that flows through Kiev, the label was created by a group of young local kids, with support from Anton Belinskiy. Lybid produces stark white sportswear complete with the brand’s logo spelled out in tiny rhinestone gems (in homage to the 00s). Lybid’s presentation at One Day Project took place after dark, and incorporated a large, white flag embazoned with LYBID – which bore testament to the brand’s cult-like identity.