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City Life with Olga Rudenko: Watermelon, lobster and others at Ukrainian Fashion Week

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Oct. 11, 2012, 10:27 p.m. | About Kyiv — by Olga Rudenko

Lilia Poustovit's opening show was all about prints, more complicated now than ever.
© Kostyantyn Chernichkin

Every invitation to Ukrainian Fashion Week’s ready-to-wear shows has the following warning on it: “Parking is limited.”

And every year traffic jams near Mystetsky Arsenal at Mazepa Street indicate that guests ignore the warning.

Unlike fashion weeks abroad, the Ukrainian version focuses on a single location for shows. Another noticeable difference is the lack of changes to the schedule. It seems like it would be considered a crime if the opening show wouldn’t be by Lilia Poustovit and followed by Victoria Gres. At least that is what the schedule has been for years.

It’s not only the schedule that is best described as “stable,” but also the collections.

At the Summer-Spring 2013 fashion week that kicked off on Oct. 10, Poustovit, Ukrainian fashion’s long-playing “good girl,” didn’t take the risk of surprising anyone and went on with her normal cotton dresses, slacks of light fabrics and free-cut shirts.

In Poustovit collections, clothing seems to be nothing but a base for putting prints on it. Colorful prints are her specialty and she works with them nicely, developing a new palette every season and putting it on same simple-form clothing.

This time Poustovit confirmed her ethnic course, adding some charms-like jewelry to collection for the first time.

“Those charms do work, protecting you, even if you don’t believe in such things,” she said after the show.

It is unlikely that she needs those tricks to attract clients. Understandable and non-risky with her complex prints and simple shapes, Poustovit is reaching them well already. She sells her two apparels for multiple boutiques in Ukraine and abroad and designs shoes for Intertop, one of Ukraine’s largest retailers.

TV host Katya Osadchaya wearing a lobster hat.

The playing-it-safe style is common for most of UFW designers, at least for commercially successful ones. It seems to be based on a simple understanding of the target audience.

Being sold at rather high prices, designers’ clothing has a limited audience. People who can afford it mostly come from conservative fields like business and politics, and what they want is intelligible, plain-design and expensive-looking clothes. 

The small exception can be made for show business people. TV host and high life reporter Katya Osadchaya often chooses Ukrainian designers’ dresses for her TV appearances, combining it with some risky accessories. At the first day of UFW, Oct. 10, she was spotted wearing a simulated lobster in her hair.

Fashion weeks are as much about guests showing off their looks as it is about designers showing off the collections. In that sense, Osadchaya’s lobster hat was a breath of fresh air, since most posh show business persons and socialites clearly prefer showing off brands, not ideas.

This year there must have been a disclaimer somewhere, warning that one won’t be allowed to the fashion week unless wearing red-sole Louboutin shoes. And perhaps another one, strictly recommending to accompany red soles with Chanel 2.55 bag. Not that classic Bottega Veneta knot clutches were finally laid to rest.

Designer Victoria Gres (fourth from left) makes last arrangement at the backstage of her show.

It’s far more refreshing to observe another category of the show’s regulars - fashion bloggers and street-style pacesetters - their number growing year-by-year. Ignoring the whole “posh look” idea, they come wearing denim shorts, colorful jackets and Converse shoes. At the fashion week’s first day, the young woman with a traditional flowery shawl wrapped around her head, carrying a watermelon bag was the photographers’ favorite treat. 

Even though one watermelon and one lobster are not enough to beat up all the red soles, it seems like fresh air is coming, from guests if not from deigners.

Kyiv Post staff writer Olga Rudenko can be reached at rudenko@kyivpost.com.

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