What Ukrainian designer Svitlana Bevza witnessed in the past year left her with an understanding of the price her compatriots were paying to simply live freely, she said at her first Paris presentation.
The brand, which showed in New York for the past 11 seasons, continues to produce its clothes and accessories in Ukraine, with its studio also in Kyiv. “This is the surrealist mentality of Ukrainians, who keep going,” she said. “If I had relocated production to another country, I would have just given up on people who desperately need [their livelihoods].”
Not that any of these struggles were immediately visible in her collection, which played on the kind of polished, tailored silhouette that made her 13-year-old brand successful.
There were smartly cut trousers, easy knit dresses with zigzagging necklines, sultry slipdresses that flowed around feminine curves, and coats with detachable elements. Seashell motifs continued her longstanding metaphor for women being pearls contained within those designs.
She also chose the egg to signify her staunch belief in life — “a very tiny but straightforward message” — appearing as gilded brooches and earrings, or giving its shape to handbags. Likewise, her black and white palette was a reminder of the radical nature of the choices she and her compatriots have been faced with.
Meanwhile, hand-cut silk feathers and sleeves shaped like wings were a symbol of her hope that people could be as free as birds. “I’m not only talking about Ukraine [but] about the pressure on communities, on gender. We are not totally free to fly yet, globally,” she remarked.