A growing number of fashion, product and interior designers in Ukraine are showing the world that the country has a thriving creative edge in art and design. The blending of Western fashion trends and traditional, national motifs in innovative and creative ways, characterizes the current trends on Ukraine’s design scene. Our hand-picked selection showcases ten must-know names of contemporary Ukrainian design, from fashion to furniture and interiors.
Since November 1999, the brand ANDRE TAN, bearing the name of its fashion designer Andre Tan who graduated from the Central Saint Martins College of Art in London, has gained worldwide notoriety and fame. Tan’s collections have been presented in various countries including Russia, Latvia, China, Bahrain, and Germany. Working together with Roberto Cavalli, he has designed dresses for the participants of the Miss Europe 2006 beauty pageant, while German fashion critics have described ANDRE TAN as one of the best women’s prêt-a-porter brand. Tan’s collections stand out for being both fashionable and comfortable to wear and for being made in Ukraine.
12 Creative Space consists of a café, an educational centre and a design shop located in downtown Kiev. The project came to being in October 2012 by combining the creative spirits and personal initiatives of three Ukrainians: Oleg Volosovsky, Head of Design at Studio Loft Office; Oksana Derevjanko, SALON Magazine Publisher; and Tatiana Stakhovsky, CREAPRO Agency Director. Constantly developing, this permanent ‘laboratory’ project serves cultural, entertainment and educational purposes. By bringing people from different walks of life together, it broadens their horizons on a range of topics from design to architecture, fashion, literature, art and gastronomy. Every month, the space and the café are given a fresh new look. The most talented Ukrainian designers are invited to implement new concepts; this could be changing the interior design, restyling the products, or even experimenting with the food menu. 12 Creative Space is thus the place to be for Ukrainian designers who are free to use it for their creative experiments.
Nataly Bolshakova is one of Ukraine’s most talented interior designers. In 2012, she won the SBID International Design Award for her House on the Sea. As a team leader of Nataly Bolshakova Interior Design, she provides her customers with services to help them create the space of their dreams according to their budget and time-frame. The team members do not limit themselves to the design creation but accompany their customers through every step of the project until its final implementation. As such, their philosophy is based on quality recommendations, and a follow-up of the entire process to avoid stress, negative feelings and wasted money.
Lilia Poustovit is the fashion designer behind the brands TM POUSTOVIT and POUSTOVIT for Atelier 1. Her collections can be found in various geographical locations, including Kiev, London, Seoul, Tokyo, Saint Petersburg and Moscow. At the inauguration of the Ukrainian Fashion Syndicate in 2004, she was elected president. In 2008, when the syndicate turned into the Ukrainian Fashion Council, she was made head of the Expert Committee. Her style is characterised by simple shapes, clear lines, little detail and a limited use of colours with black, red and white being the dominant hues. Her originality lies in immersing herself into the youth subculture to create collections with a young Ukrainian soul. By combining her Ukrainian roots and Western fashion in general, Poustovit’s collections have acquired a minimalistic, ethnic, urban, eclectic, and warm tone.
In 2003, Nota Bene and KARAVAY was founded by bringing the Ukrainian company Nota Bene and the fashion designer Iryna Karavay together. Karavay’s originality is at the core of the brand’s philosophy which advocates the mutual use of art and fashion to create emotional clothing “for women with active living position[s] who are able to navigate among the mass uniformity of things and make their choices.” As a partnership, Nota Bene and Karavay collections were seasonally presented at both Ukrainian and Russian Fashion Weeks. In the deluxe line, handmade decorations are used on every collection, making every single piece of clothing and accessory look like a work of art. Two years ago, however, Iryna Karavay separated from her partners to continue developing the Karavay brand, keeping her philosophy alive.
Today, Oksana Karavanska is one of the most creative, famous and in demand Ukrainian fashion designers, and is an active member of the Ukrainian Fashion Council Expert Committee. In 1997, when her first boutique was opened, Oksana Karavanska became a registered trademark. Since 1998, her bright and extravagant collections have been displayed at Ukrainian fashion weeks and in 2002, she won the Crystal Silhouette Competition Grand Prix for the dress of the year. She was also named best designer of the year by the Ukrainian Centre of Fashion Development that year. Karavanska, fond of using old-fashioned lace, always remembers to give a local touch to her collections.
Founded in 2008, Kleydesign is the product of the work of two Ukrainian designer-architects: Yova Yager and Ira Miller. They specialise in the creation of spaces, the production of design products and art installations. They share a fascination with light objects and like to work with a wide range of materials. In 2009, they created their first product design collection for the Kiev Design Week. Since then, they have been taking part in various competitions, lectures and exhibitions. However, it was in 2010 that the duo gained notoriety with their collection called ‘it’s a Di4’ that they presented during the Ukrainian Design Week. In 2011, they won the grand prize of the Nature in Design competition.
Victoria Yakusha, Head of the studio Yakusha Design, specialises in architectural, interior and landscape design. Since 2002, the Yakusha Design team have offered their services across Ukraine and abroad, winning the Inter YEAR 2007 award. Their influences lie in modern European understanding of design, breaking away from Ukrainian tradition and the former Soviet model of similar-looking panel buildings. They take their work very seriously and only undertake projects that they are passionate about, wishing to create designs that are in harmony with their customers’ taste and character. The team emphasises the importance of creating a comfortable space that will make people want to return.
Victoria Gres, the artist who owns a fashion brand and an interior design company of the same name, offers high-quality services and creative clothing that find inspirational roots in history. Her outfits are personalised and are very close to being artworks. She believes that the brand’s uniqueness comes from her use of antique lace in unusual ways together with vintage textiles to create contemporary and romantic collections. Established in 1993, the fashion brand has four different lines: Victoria Gres by GRES, Victoria Gres Couture, Victoria Gres DENIM and the accessories line. At the same time, Gres is also very active in developing Gres décor, again providing a historical touch.
Born in Odessa, Alexandr Gapchuk is one of the leading Ukrainian fashion designers specialising in menswear, focusing on men’s suiting more specifically. Since 2002, his collections have been represented at both Ukrainian and Russian Fashion Weeks. Drawing inspiration from classic collections of costume designers, troubadours and medieval knights, Gapchuk’s work is colourful and bold, using materials typical of street-style fashion in an innovative way. Having been trained to create women’s attire, he felt curious and inspired to add a touch of female elegance to his men’s collections, adapting renaissance and gothic costumes for the 21st century. He has tried various styles, sometimes going for more classic and romantic looks but also for sporty and avant-garde attires, which is why Gapchuk’s collections remain ever-surprising.