New York Fashion Week takes on the Big Apple each season. The sidewalks fill up with people wearing even more fantastical outfits than usual; photographers swarm the designers, stylists, models and industry insiders. The global community of fashion insiders swarm Manhattan streets and creative locations in other boroughs. This year Razom was in the mix.
Designers from Ukraine have participated in previous years, but this September Razom helped to amplify the voices of Ukrainian fashion through two projects (which happened to take place) in one day.
At midday, Razom volunteers worked backstage at the runway show of BEVZA. Svitlana Bevza has been showing her designs as part of the official New York Fashion Week schedule for a few years now. She is an entrepreneur who has been growing her line of clothing steadily. A runway show as part of NYFW demands a tight schedule: models need to be dressed to walk out on time more than once during a single show. Razom volunteers donated their time and helped the models look fantastic on each walk.
An hour after the runway show, Razom volunteers were a few blocks away where industry insiders took in an installation that was created by the organization, Ukrainian Fashion Week (with the help of Razom volunteers).
Ukrainian Fashion Week (UFW) has been putting on runway shows for over 20 years in Ukraine. The team behind UFW has been instrumental in cultivating the fashion industry in Ukraine and is dedicated to expanding the creative industries across multiple formats. The day the team of UFW arrived in JFK, they had just completed over 50 runway shows in Kyiv.
Razom co-organized an installation at a gallery in Tribeca where participants were invited to discover Ukrainian designers and to explore the creative industries of Ukraine first-hand. Volodymyr Nechyporuk, executive producer of the UFW, who conceived the installation wanted to convey the idea that Ukrainian fashion cannot be simply consumed, it needs to be explored and examined. He envisioned a research laboratory where visitors can learn about designers by conducting a series of experiments on themselves. “Fashion and clothes are two different things. Everyone’s dismissed “clothes”, nobody puts on clothes because it’s cold. Everyone comes up with Something special. And the goal of a designer is not to clothe a person, but to help her or him to find oneself” – added Volodymyr.
UFW brought clothing, video, sound, interactive digital experiences including a virtual reality component to create an installation. And we are very grateful to the Razom volunteers, who hustled for weeks to find a venue, to locate specific props and pieces of furniture, and to arrange logistics.
“Ukrainian fashion designers are really making a name for themselves internationally, and we had a wonderful opportunity to further their success. In the diaspora most popular Ukrainian designers are those that work with more traditional motifs and showcase their vyshyvanka themed clothing. But, I don’t feel that it is an accurate representation of the state of Ukrainian fashion industry and its trajectory. Fashion experiment 01, on the other hand, was. Even if the US population captured wasn’t large, I think that impacting the diaspora’s view is critical. As an MBA with an interest in fashion and retail, I am very proud of how well positioned new and established designers are on the international stage in terms of innovation and creativity,” – said Razom volunteer Oksana Yary.
Fashion Experiment 01 was an interactive experience that invited visitors to touch and feel the designs made in Ukraine. It included set design, sound design, video and graphic design as well as clothing.
“We intentionally did not want to do a traditional runway show. We want to show that Ukraine is innovative,” – said Iryna Danylevska, the founder of the Ukrainian Fashion Week, – “Modern Ukraine is the country of talented people in various fields – computer engineers, fashion designers, artists, musicians… and I’d like for Ukrainians, who live in the States, to be proud of this new modern Ukraine. We all have vyshyvankas, which we cherish and wear for holidays. But we should not limit our understanding of Ukraine to vyshyvanka only. We should be proud of what is modern in Ukraine, and should support it”.
After the formal presentation of the installation from 3 to 5pm on Monday September 20, 2018, the team regrouped and opened again for an after-party from 8pm to 11pm. Designers, models, and people interested in talent from Ukraine visited the gallery including top model Alla Kostromichova, and Elena Rudenko from Kyiv, who now shows her line on West Broadway at Flying Solo, and many more.
Razom is committed to amplifying the voices of Ukraine. During New York Fashion Week, Ukraine was certainly in the conversation.
Photos by Bogdan Grytsiv, Slavick Ciganec, Maryna Pryhodko and Nina Pashkovska.