Interview with a blocked Ukrainian designer during Fashion Week

When I talk or see people, nobody knows anything, nobody sees anything. We have to shout things loud and clear. Yesterday we talked to people who said: yes, it is very sad that there is a local conflict. Today, in 2022, when information is so easy to spread, the largest country in Europe is under a huge and violent attack from Russia and yet nobody knows and nobody cares…

Do you find it acceptable that fashion shows are carried out as if nothing had happened?
Certainly not. The scale of the tragedy now unfolding can only be compared to World War II, and we are only on day two. [l’entretien a eu lieu le vendredi 25 février]. it’s frightening. Of course, such events are not tolerable. But in all honesty, being aware of this conflict and providing real help is much more important than talking about whether or not to do Fashion Week. Honestly do what you want. If you feel like you have to party, party. I’m not here to tell you not to do it. But you have to know what’s going on, you have to see it. You have to take it into account and do something about it. It is so close, on the eastern border of Europe!

Do you know how and when you will be able to return home?
No, right now there is no way to get in. As soon as possible, we will see what happens. But for now, there is no way to get home.

According to your friends and family, how is the atmosphere in Kyiv?
They fight, they fight, they fight. People are very angry. They are afraid, of course, but they are increasingly angry. During the last years of the war, the Ukrainian people have become extremely united. If we go back to 2014 and the Maidan revolution, the people were still quite divided, but the Ukrainian people became more and more united. And now that the war has started, even the people who hated each other have become like brothers. It’s obvious to me; We feel it across the board. Those who can get weapons are not afraid. When you are there and you see the hundreds of tanks approaching Kyiv and you see guys making Molotov cocktails, you see all this and you want to cry, because you know very well where this is going to end.

Obviously, what happens to Ienki Ienki is probably the last thing on your mind, but this business is the livelihood of many people. Can the brand continue to operate today?
I can tell you two things. First, it is too early to talk about anything in Ukraine, because we are on the verge of total extinction. The other thing is that all of our production is in the Ukraine, the season is very good at the moment, a lot of items are being produced. Our production is located 100-250 kilometers from Kyiv, in areas that are not on Kyiv’s highways or strategic locations. So even though on Thursday morning everyone knew what was going on and we asked everyone to stay home, all the production employees went to work. Because it’s better to be together and do what we can if we don’t have much more information. On the one hand, we have to think about Ukraine in general, and on the other hand, people want to continue working.

Through GQUS.

Translation by Chantal Bloom.

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