'Ukrainian in heart, body, blood': Inside Ukraine's London Fashion Week show

Nearly a full year after Russia invaded Ukraine, London Fashion Week has come to a close. But there was one show that we’ll remember to never forget.

Wrapping up one of the biggest weeks in fashion on Tuesday was the Ukraine Show, where three exceptional Ukrainian brands came together to showcase their designs, in spite of the atrocities occurring in their motherland.

The show opening was poignant as the designers – Ksenia Schnaider, Ivan Frolov and Julie Paskal – all strutted their stuff down the runway, brandishing the Ukrainian flag.

Metro.co.uk was lucky enough to get a backstage pass, where we saw a sea of black t-shirts sporting the Ukrainian flag, as the stylists fixed hair and MAC artists applied makeup.

The designs were all beautiful, but it was the showcasing of immense talent and creativity still blooming from war-torn Ukraine that was the standout message.

The first of the brands featured was Frolov – a couture brand born in the heart of Kyiv. It has dressed the likes of Beyonce, Dua Lipa and Doja Cat and hopes to epitomise BDSM ethics, fetishism, the LGBTQ+ movement and transsexual culture.

With an Instagram bio which reads ‘Ukrainian in heart, in body, in blood,’ it is no surprise Frolov was chosen to represent the country by the British Fashion Council.

Conflict back home has had a profound impact on Ukrainians, said designer Ivan.

He told Metro.co.uk: ‘Without a doubt, we can never stay the same after even fully acknowledging all the horrors of the war, it is devastating.

‘But despite it, I’m constantly evolving, researching, and exploring something new.

‘But what I find a great strength of Frolov as a brand is the fact that it hasn’t changed. It stays true to itself, to its core conception and DNA, and this is our main power.’

Ivan also expressed how grateful he was to be able to represent his country during London Fashion Week.

‘It is a great honour and achievement for our brand to be a part of the official schedule of London Fashion Week this season,’ he said.

‘Especially while we as Ukrainians are still fighting in the war Russians has started, it is so important for us to be cultural warriors and continue this talk about Ukraine in every way possible.

‘We are happy to use this opportunity as a platform to represent Ukrainian talent, to show it to the world and continue spreading the message that we won’t give up on our main goal and what we’re doing in any circumstances.’

So what inspired this seasons Frolov collection?

Ivan said: ‘We love to give our collections names that reflect their main idea in a short form. The one we’re representing during London Fashion Week is named “Song to Song”.

‘I was deeply inspired by authentic Ukrainian music I loved throughout my whole life.

‘Songs accompany us throughout our lives, from the time we’ve been born to when we die, when we celebrate something or even have sex.

‘And it is so interesting that a heart, a symbol of our brand, is the source of the song itself. It has a rhythm, its beat changes at different moments, and it can have a melody when you listen very carefully. 

‘As each of us has a heart, it makes us all a song ourselves. Together we make a solo, a duet a triptych, and even an orchestra. And as a brand we’re deeply connected to music, working a lot with Ukrainian and international artists, we feel clothes best through a song.

‘And when the heart of the piece syncs with a heart of the person, a new melody is created. From song to a song.’

Kseniaschnaider, another Kyiv-born brand, specialises in sustainable ready-to-wear reworked denim designs.

With an Instagram bio which simply reads ‘stop the war in Ukraine,’ it’s clear the conflict is close to the designer’s heart.

The brand is perhaps best-known for its invention – the ‘demi-denims’. The design was a combination of culottes and skinny jeans.

The LFW collection featured patchworked denim pieces, including bags and shoes, made from upcycled materials and deadstock fabrics.

Having fled the war in Ukraine, designer Ksenia Schnaider spent time in Poland, Hungary and Germany, before moving to the UK as part of the Homes For Ukraine scheme.

Ukrainian brand Paskal, in contrast, is known for it’s delicate silhouettes and minimalist approach, and has previously appeared in Paris Fashion Week.

Julie Paskal spent the first three weeks of the war in Odesa, where she lived with her family, before fleeing to Germany with her children.

However, she’s since returned to Ukraine while her family remain in Germany, to work on her collections.

The delicate butterfly designs were the most feminine and soft creations to walk the runway.

Designer Julie told Metro.co.uk: ‘This is a big honor and I’m very grateful for this opportunity and all the support. It was really challenging to make it happen.

‘The show was a very bright and special moment for us and for people of Ukraine.

‘It’s crucial for us to have the opportunity to create and move forward, showing our work and striving to create not to destroy.’

She added: ‘War is the worst thing that can happen to a human being.

‘This war totally changed our lives but it gave us the understanding of how precious life is.

‘Ukrainians are now fighting against the most dangerous terrorist of our times.

‘That’s why it is important for the world community to support Ukraine at this resistance.’

So what was the inspiration for her collection?

Julie said: ‘The leitmotif of the Out of Cocoon collection — is a butterfly.

‘It is a very special symbol for me which I use as the key speaking about ethereal things, beauty and fragility of life.

‘My favourite piece is a long white dress with a beautiful cut out on the back, it looks like it’s crafted from paper, very feminine and clean but with a sexy provocative note. Here she is.. out of cocoon!’

If the backstage scene at LFW was anything to go by, shows like this take a lot of people to pull off. Julie wanted to express her thanks to everyone involved.

She said: ‘I want to express my deepest gratitude to our British colleagues and to my Ukrainian team.’

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