War in Ukraine: after several days of silence, the fashion industry is finally moving

The fashion and luxury industry, criticized a few days ago for its inaction in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has finally taken a stand in the middle of Paris Fashion Week. More than ten days into the conflict, announcements of store closures on Russian soil have followed, as have donations and other initiatives designed to support the Ukrainian people.

On the night of February 23-24, 2022, while the fashion world rests after a day of walking the Milanese parades on stilettos, the Russian army begins its offensive in Ukraine on the orders of Vladimir Putin. The discrepancy is huge. On the one hand, the start of what some people see as World War III, on the other the glamor and excitement of Fashion Week, in which designers and the largest luxury houses compete in creativity to offer grandiose shows, punctuated by spectacular sets and 5 star guests.

With a few exceptions, including Giorgio Armani, who removed music from his show three days after the conflict started in support of Ukraine, the fashion and luxury industry has failed to make its voice heard. Right in the middle of fashion week. While there was never any cancellation this week devoted to new collections — the world somehow keeps spinning — some criticized the lack of positioning of an entire industry, one of the most powerful in the world, as other sectors have done. from the beginning.

A step-by-step mobilization

A lot of ink was spilled in Milan at the end of this week. “Shy Positioning”“discretion”… The lack of mobilization of the sector has been discussed both on social networks and in the specialized press. However, if the industry failed to respond in the wake of the Russian invasion, it gradually implemented measures aimed not only at distancing itself from Russia, but also at supporting the Ukrainian people.

As soon as Paris Fashion Week kicked off, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode communicated on the subject and recalled the context in which this very special fashion week took place. “The great fashion family gathers for Paris Fashion Week at a time when war has brutally broken out in Europe, plunging the Ukrainian people into fear and pain. (…) The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode therefore invites you to live the parades of the coming days with the seriousness that is essential in these dark hours”we can read in a press release published on February 28.

But it is without a doubt “Ukrainian Vogue” which, as of March 1, has largely helped lead the way for an entire industry. In a publication on its Instagram account, the magazine called for: “imposing an embargo on the export of fashion and luxury goods to Russia”, targeting some of its partners and major players in the industry, including LVMH, Kering, Hermès, Prada, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino and Versace. Launched like a bottle into the sea, this call was heard and triggered chain announcements.

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Stores closed and call for donations

While many groups and large luxury houses have gradually suspended their commercial activities in Russia and closed boutiques, including Hermès, LVMH, Kering, Prada or even Chanel, others have chosen to provide financial support and rely on donations to help children and adults. who were victims of the Russian invasion. Balenciaga, Balmain, Jacquemus and Louis Vuitton are among the houses that have worked in this direction.

Just before the start of the presentation of his new collection for Balmain, Olivier Rousteing posted a snapshot on his Instagram account in the colors of Ukraine, with a heart above it and accompanied by a suggestive message. “As we present our collection, we are well aware that more important things are happening in the world today. (…) Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Ukrainians. We are inspired by their dignity, resilience and commitment to freedom.”said the French stylist, adding that he had made a donation to the United Nations Refugee Agency’s emergency fund.

For its part, the Balenciaga house, led by the Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia, has taken multiple initiatives to support Ukraine. Whoever had to flee his country in the early 1990s made the choice to remove all Instagram publications from the house, only posted an image of the Ukrainian flag and announced his decision not to pass on war-related news. But he didn’t stop there. During the Balenciaga fashion show, where guests could discover T-shirts in Ukrainian colors on each of the chairs, the stylist recited a poem in Ukrainian. A text that accompanied another: a letter that was also posted on every seat and broadcast on social networks.

“The war in Ukraine has revived the pain of a past trauma that has followed me since 1993 when the same thing happened in my country, and I became a refugee for life. For life, because it is something that stays with you. The fear, the despair, the realization that no one wants you”, we could read there. A heartbreaking and committed text that reminds us that fashion is not just folklore and glamour.

The Georgian also ended this letter by specifying the reasons that prompted him to maintain this parade. “In these difficult times (…) Fashion Week sounds like a kind of absurdity. I thought about canceling the show (…) but then I realized that canceling it would mean giving in to the evil that has made me suffer so much for almost 30 years”he shared.

Note that blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, were ubiquitous at Paris Fashion Week, on the runway and beyond. Influencers, fashion icons, models and designers, such as Isabel Marant, have chosen clothes that emphasize these two shades to show their support for the Ukrainian people.

(ETX Daily Up)

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