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Empowering Ukrainian Refugee Designers Through a Fashion Show

Wednesday 1 May 2024

Fabric of Freedom, a groundbreaking fashion show aimed at supporting Ukrainian refugee fashion designers finding sanctuary in London, was held at London Metropolitan University. The front row included movers and shakers in fashion as well as the author of Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding.  

It was organised by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in collaboration with London Metropolitan University, UA in UK Community, fashion curators Olenka Martynyuk and Nataliia Bartkiv, and with Creative Headshots London.  

The event, held at London Met’s prestigious Great Hall, proved to be a resounding success showcasing the resilience and creativity of Ukrainian designers amidst the ongoing crisis. 

The anticipated evening showcased the talent of Ukrainian refugee designers Galushko, Mandyradzhy, Selera, AG Studio, and Tetyana Palchinska. Their collections graced the runway, captivating the audience with their unique blend of heritage, innovation, and artistic expression. 

As the world continues to grapple with challenges, events like Fabric of Freedom remind us of the resilience of the human spirit and the boundless potential for positive change through art and creativity. 

Collections’ descriptions: 

Anna Gorokhova’s AG Studio unveiled "Homeland," a collection that seamlessly blended the timeless appeal of linen with the laid-back elegance of resort wear. Designed with relaxation in mind, each piece embodied elements of ethnic identity, serving as a poignant reminder of the enduring connection to one's homeland. With each garment, AG Studio showcased Ukraine’s history and essence, weaving a tapestry of belonging and pride.   

Galushko presented "From the Portrait of Darkness," a collection inspired by the eternal themes of immortality, rebirth, and the human thirst for life. Anastasia Galushko's designs eloquently captured the essence of a rich cultural heritage, infusing vintage materials and intricate craftsmanship into modern silhouettes with the unmistakable Galushko’s touch.  

Mandyradzhy's "Avis Libidinis" explored themes of sexuality, liberty, and self-discovery, celebrating the sexual freedom women have found in recent decades. Ilona Mandyrandzy called for more acceptance of sexuality and uniqueness by guiding the eye on her feminine yet strong, deconstructed silhouettes which are deeply linked to her Ukrainian roots. 

Selera, a sustainable brand committed, showcased a collection crafted from eco-friendly fabrics such as nettle, hemp, and linen. Valeriya Samchuk's designs paid homage to Ukrainian craftsmanship and tradition using traditional fabrics and symbols such as keys and accessories. The neutral-toned collection, reflected on the unbreakable bond between generations as a comforting path home, linking the past to the future. 

Tetyana Palchinska closed Fabric of Freedom with an array of gloriously colourful flower crowns and baskets. Each flower meticulously handmade by Tetyana using foamiran fabric. The models wore all-black outfits to spotlight the creations. Each one of the head accessories reflected the heritage of Ukraine. Ranging from pink roses with golden spikes to blue and yellow crowns with matching ribbons cascading on each side – a tribute to the Ukrainian flag – Tetyana’s creations captivated the audience.   

Vittoria Zerbini, Lead Organiser of Fabric of Freedom for LCCI, stated: 

"The Fabric of Freedom event was a resounding success. We've witnessed an outpouring of creativity, drive, and talent from each and every designer involved. Not only have new friendships blossomed, but we're confident they'll fuel the designers' ambitions for even greater achievements. Organising this event has been a pleasure for LCCI, and its success underscores our commitment to supporting Ukraine." 

Nataliia Bartkiv, Fashion Show Organisers and Expert, added: 

“This project marked the inception of a future collaboration between Ukrainian designer artists and British talents. I believe in the beauty of diversity, where disparate lines converge to form a vibrant, unified canvas.” 

Aleksandra Volkova, founder of UA in UK Community, remarked: 

“There are many challenges that the five designers of Fabric of Freedom have to face daily since their forced relocation due to the war. Some examples are the new environment, a new consumer’s philosophy and methods of promotion in local markets, looking for fresh sources of inspiration and ways to restore one’s business. That’s why at UA in UK Community, we try to facilitate these processes.  

Each collection today showed the designers’ personal signatures but all are united by the belief in freedom. This was a great opportunity for introducing new fashion names in the UK market.” 

Wendy Sloan, London Met Associate Professor, conlcuded:   

"It's a bit dispiriting that the world has only become aware of these amazing Ukrainian designers due to the war, but we are proud to have been able to provide a vehicle for them to display their diverse array of fashion talent." 

ENDS 

Media contacts:
Vittoria Zerbini - Media Assistant 
E: vzerbini@londonchamber.co.uk 

A selection of photos from the event can be downloaded on WeTransfer.