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April 12th, 2014

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5 April 2014


Ukrainian fashion: style on the frontline
From Euromaidan protests to staging catwalk shows in the midst of unrest, Kiev’s designers are doing what they can to stand up for their country and its burgeoning fashion industry
By Rosie Swash
theguardian.com, Thursday 27 March 2014 13.21 GMT
Strutting down the catwalk en masse, the models almost resemble a row of marching soldiers. Then the camera cuts to a runway strewn with metal fencing, men and women ending their walks by throwing themselves to the floor as if they have been shot. The YouTube video, titled Ukrainian Fashion Against War, even shows the well-dressed fashion week attendees wearing jumpers bearing the words “Stop regime”. Clearly the militaristic overtones of Kiev’s annual fashion event aren’t a coincidence. This is Ukraine fashion week’s unified response to the political events of the country over the past six months.

That Ukraine fashion week still went ahead under the looming shadow of Russian occupation came as a surprise to many. But from Kinshasa to Tehran, fashion often finds a way to shine through the cracks of political turmoil. In Ukraine, where a second fashion week begins today, the relationship between the fashion industry and the protesters is particularly close.

“Ukrainian designers are very courageous,” says Iryna Danylevska, founder of Ukraine fashion week. “Most of them were actively taking part in the Maidan protests. They were producing bullet-proof vests and helping in the kitchens, bringing food, water and medication. Naturally, they were not able to forget these experiences when it came to their collections.”

Aleksey Zalevskiy – Runway – Ukrainian Fashion Week Spring 2014
Designer Aleksey Zalevskiy incorporates fences into his show during the Ukrainian fashion week, during which models fell to the floor as if they had been shot Photograph: Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA
“We would never stand aside because of the events happening in our country,” says Danylevska. “Ukrainian fashion designers, through a very difficult time, have managed to produce their autumn/winter 2014 collections. For them and for all representatives of fashion in this country, it was our duty to carry on.” Forty shows, 15,000 guests and 200 journalists later, the event can be classified as a success.

It’s a good sign for Daria Shapovalova, creative director of Kiev Fashion Days. The theme for the four-day event (which, according to Shapovalova, has a more international focus than UFW) is #fashionforpeace. Shapovalova sends over a bombastic press release: “Ukraine’s fashion activists have proved to the world that their work deserves acknowledgement and … Ukrainian brands are reliable fashion partners. This is the new face of Ukraine that Maidan has been fighting for. New fashionable European Ukraine here and now, which is going to emerge as a completely new European Ukraine.”

Her positivity is not without context. Last year Masha Tsukanova, editor-in-chief of Vogue Ukraine, told fashionista.com: “About 15 years ago, after the fall of the Soviet Union, we started to have our first boutiques. Six years ago, we got our first luxury shopping street in Kiev. For the last five years, the market has been rapidly developing. New retailers are coming and brands have finally become interested in the country … I think it is a high time for us to come to the market.” The capital now has a well-known luxury fashion “concept store”, Atelier 1, which sells Comme des Garçons and Junya Watanabe, and Prada launched its first shop in the country in 2012. This market transition, from the local small-trade boutiques to international luxury brands, has been a great source of excitement for those within the Ukrainian fashion industry.

“It’s a country that really is just beginning its foray into fashion,” says Susie Lau, a fashion blogger who has previously profiled Ukrainian designers on her Style Bubble blog. “As such a young country, I like the way they’re approaching fashion in that they are in touch with their traditions – folkloric dress, national costume, etc – and that parlays into their work. They have a fresh view on fashion that isn’t yet saturated with trends dictated by the fashion capitals. It’s still very idiosyncratic.”

Ukrainian designers Anna October and Julie Paskal are flourishing names, having been introduced to the international fashion week crowds in Paris and profiled by the Financial Times and Vogue. A showcase that followed in Florence this January was “super successful, we were like celebrities in Florence”, according to Shapovalova, and was followed by another at London fashion week.

“About five years ago my team began; I started to travel to other fashion weeks, spreading the word, promoting my country,” says Shapovalova. “I remember being at Milan fashion week and news from Ukraine was everywhere. I was thinking: ‘I am living in a great country and all people know about are the problems.’ I try to change a little bit, but all I can do is change fashion. But fashion can be a way of hope for people. We are one of the biggest countries in Europe. Forty-eight million! At one time we produced a lot of the garments for the Soviet Union, so we still have the factories and manufacturing infrastructure to produce fashion on a large scale. That’s the idea – to get bigger.”

Unfortunately, the growth experienced in the Ukrainian fashion sector since 2007/2008 has been hampered by bureaucracy. Most native designers are desperate for Ukraine to join the EU to modernise the customs system. In an interview last year, Anna October said: “We don’t have a VAT system and it makes it a problem working with shops. Being within the EU also makes me hope that corruption will somehow end.” October was forced to reuse material from a previous collection for her AW14 show, because border closures meant she could not import any new fabric this year.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. “All of us have been living in constant stress for the last four months. During this time we have all been deprived of our personal lives; each morning we have been starting by reading the news. All day long we read news. Before we got to bed we read news,” says Danylevska.

Even the relentlessly upbeat Shapovalova has her doubts. On the eve of Kiev Fashion Days and the hecticness that it brings, she allows a moment for reflection. “I really hope that the whole tension in the country won’t ruin the fashion business, which just started to develop in Ukraine. That is the biggest challenge of the whole situation – small business is on the edge of death in Ukraine, and we must do everything to save it.”

• This article was amended on 2 April 2014 after the organisers contacted us to update the attendance figures and the fashion week schedule. The name Inga Vyshnevska has been changed to Iryna Danylevska. Vyshnevska contacted the Guardian to explain she supplied answers on behalf of Danylevska.

5 April 2014


Spring fashion is not only about skirts and dresses.
A fabulous alternative is a garment that consists of trousers or shorts and a top put together is what we’ll all be wearing this season. Initially invented for parachuters, jumpsuits became a popular uniform for drivers and pilots, and are now
a ‘must-have’ for all the fashion-conscious. Its impracticality of being a one-piece (sometimes difficult to put on) is also its biggest advantage: your outfit is virtually ready and its shape will make you look slender. So, grab a pair of sandals or your fave trainers and you’re set for the perfect picnic in the park.

31 March 2014


Busy week on the red-carpet circuit, ladies and gentleman. Stars stepped out for a bevy of events during the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas, and, in case you hadn’t noticed, the casts of Noah and Divergent have been on whirlwind press tours. Naturally, no one missed a sartorial beat. On Monday, Emma Watson attended a press conference for Noah in Beverly Hills in a multicolored dress from Peter Pilotto’s Fall ’14 offering, while her costar Jennifer Connelly chose a Louis Vuitton Fall ’14 dress modified with long sleeves to combat New York’s chilly temps for the film’s premiere on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Divergent‘s leading lady, Shailene Woodley, walked the red carpet at her film’s Mexico City premiere on Tuesday in a bright Spring ’14 Roksanda Ilincic gown accented with an asymmetrical black strap.

At CinemaCon, A-listers including Angelina Jolie and Mila Kunis flaunted fresh Spring looks. On Thursday, Cameron Diaz stepped out in a gray Victoria Beckham minidress with a pleated white peekaboo hem from the Spring ’14 catwalk for 20th Century Fox’s presentation. The same day, a glowing Drew Barrymore showed off her baby bump in a floor-grazing leaf-print Marc Jacobs gown from the Spring ’14 runway for the Big Screen Achievement Awards, where she was honored with the Female Star of the Year award.

Here, more of this week’s red-carpet highlights.

—Erinn Hermsen
Photo: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images
tags: Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz, CinemaCon, Divergent, Drew Barrymore, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Mila Kunis, Noah, Peter Pilotto, Roksanda Ilincic, Runway to Red Carpet, Shailene Woodley, Victoria Beckham


30 March 2014


Hot off the press literally!
Check this out from today’s Telegraph.


30 March 2014


I found this article which I hope you find as fascinating as I did. To read more go to http://the-east-end.co.uk/the-rag-trade/

The area of the East End known as Spitalfields has been home to clothing manufacturing businesses (often referred to as ‘The Rag Trade’) for over 250 years. Started primarily by the Huguenots, religious refugees from Eighteenth century France, the Rag Trade has dominated the area ever since.

Spitalfields represented the most concentrated Huguenot settlement in England and it was said that you were as likely to hear French being spoken in the streets of the East End as the mother tongue of English. In fact, the amount of Huguenot migration from France was so great (estimated at almost twenty five thousand individuals – a huge amount given the population at the time) that it is believed that amongst the current population in the South East of England, more than 90% may have Huguenot ancestors.
Huguenot Wever in the East End

The Huguenots were talented weavers who became very successful and their businesses soon boomed. They invested the money they made to construct the tall, impressive town houses that line the streets of the Brick Lane area (for a chance to glimpse into their world, see the article on Dennis Severs House on this website). With their long windows to let in the maximum amount of light, a factor essential for a weaver, together with their high ceilings, these properties are now highly sought after.

By the nineteenth century the weavers had long gone (primarily due to the joint factors of employment restrictions and mechanisation) and the properties had started to fall into disrepair. The once grand Huguenot homes were then turned into lodging houses where London’s poorest and most desperate could spend the night for a penny. Those who could not even afford the cost of a bed would end up sleeping whilst sitting upright on a bench, their tired and weary bodies held in place by a rope.

The properties became filthy, flea-ridden doss houses where petty crime was rife. Home to gin soaked Whitechapel prostitutes, these sorry individuals would have slept in these common lodging houses whilst Jack the Ripper committed his horrendous murders in the streets outside.

As the French weavers moved out another group of settlers began to move in. Following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, the persecution of Jews in Russia became even fiercer, and a wave of pogroms swept across Russia and neighbouring countries. Many Jewish families fled Eastern Europe between 1881 and 1914, prompted by economic hardship and increasingly ferocious persecution and moved to the East End for a fresh start.

A large numberJewish Tailors in the East End of Jews who landed in England were actually intending to make their way to America, but about 120,000 stayed in this country. Attracted by the East End’s reputation as a place for cheap living, (and by the fact that it had been home to a Jewish population in previous decades), large numbers of Jews settled in Spitalfields, often finding work in the ‘rag trade’. Indeed, by the end of the Nineteenth century, Jews represented about 95 per cent of the population in the Wentworth Street district of Spitalfields and had also settled around Whitechapel, Aldgate and Mile End.

Eventually, the Jewish community moved further out to the suburbs, such as Golders Green and Hendon, and in their wake, the clothing trade was taken over by another ethnic group, that of Bengali Muslims, who remain to this day. Indeed a visit to Brick Lane nowadays finds the senses assaulted with the sights, sounds and smells of the Indian sub-continent.

30 March 2014
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