(New York) It is rare that a fashion show begins with a minute of silence. This is how the Ukrainian designer Svitlana Bevza did respect in New York to the country invaded by Russia, before presenting a collection loaded with her national symbols.
Posted on September 14
A regular at New York Fashion Week, where she has been parading since 2017, but based in Kyiv, where she was born and has her workshops, she has decided to leave the Ukrainian capital, the fear, the noise of the explosions and the sirens. her after the beginning of the Russian invasion at the end of February, because she wanted to “protect” her two children.
Her husband, Volodymyr Omelyan, a politician who was a minister between 2016 and 2019 in the ranks of the Popular Front party, stayed in the country and joined the army volunteers. She appears on Svitlana Bevza’s Instagram account, military uniform and machine gun in hand.
Thus, Svitlana Bevza’s new spring-summer collection, called “A Fragile Homeland” and presented in a Wall Street building, was more political than ever, with the Ukrainian flag projected on the wall.
“Perhaps people do not understand that it is serious, but there have been 202 days of war in Ukraine and there are thousands of dead,” says the 40-year-old designer, with shoulder-length, black and stiff hair, in an interview with AFP.
“They forced me to leave my country with my children. And my husband is at war, ”she sums up.
While remaining sensual, certain tops, worn over skirts or pants, are furiously reminiscent of bulletproof vests. Some take the form of a silver shield exposing the shoulders and navel.
Above all, it is the grains and ears of wheat –symbols of the “fertile lands” of Ukraine, which have become a geopolitical issue and a commitment to feeding the world– that appeared as the common thread of the collection. A necklace model is inspired by it, but the color is gold and black, to remind us that “the Russians burned a lot of our wheat,” explains Svitlana Bevza.
Wheat can also be seen in the shapes of the seams or in the fringes. And certain cuts of dresses in silky materials recall how Ukrainian peasant women folded their skirts to be more comfortable in the fields during the harvest.
“There is (in Ukraine) a deep, sacred sense of bread and wheat that has gone down the centuries,” says Svitlana Bevza, also recalling the terrible famine of the 1930s for which historians point the finger at Stalin.
“What we are protecting today is our fertile land. And what we are fighting for is to live in peace on our lands”, he claims.
” We won “
Since February, the life of his brand, born in 2006, has turned around as much as his personal life. First of all, the orders for the autumn-winter season had to be delivered from a country at war. Then he designs a new spring-summer collection.
Svitlana Bevza came from Portugal, where she settled with her children, working remotely with her team that remained in Kyiv, where her workshops are located.
Dreaming from a very young age, in a Ukraine that was still part of the USSR, of becoming a fashion designer, Svitlana Bevza did not initially think of giving it a political meaning, she who defends a “minimalist”, “elegant”, “feminine” fashion. and “sustainable”.
“It was a big mistake to stay away from politics like that,” he said.
Touches of patriotism have appeared throughout his collections, thanks in particular to the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.
“We will win this war,” he adds now, adopting a speech without the slightest concession to Russia.
“They have a lot of propaganda, and that’s a big problem, because they’re raising their children telling them that Ukraine is some kind of devil. And these children will grow up. So if you do nothing with Russia, history will repeat itself in 20 or 30 years,” she assures, adding coldly: “I have no relationship with Russia.”