The vinok is a type of floral wreath originally worn by girls and unmarried women in Ukraine. In summer and spring, these wreaths would be made from fresh flowers, in winter from paper and woven with ribbons. Each flower had a particular symbolism, and the colours of the ribbons would also be chosen to represent certain emotions or values – wisdom, courage or strength. One tradition was that young girls would float the wreaths down rivers and depending on what happened – whether it drifted in a particular direction, or sunk – she could determine whether or not she would marry. Vinoks were also traditionally worn by husband and wife-to-be during their marriage service, acting as a precursor to the modern day veil.
Today, the wreaths are worn on a more casual basis, and are sold across Ukraine. Bright colours decorate the inside of stark Soviet buildings and are float in shop windows. “After the Ukrainian revolution, all Ukrainian symbols have become really popular,” vintage shop owner Ulyana Yavna told Vogue. She added: “The vinok is really simple to wear and buy, and it’s not expensive. People here in Lviv will wear a small vinok in daily life.”
The workshop has seen their photographs resonate with a global audience. The ornate and decorative nature of the headdresses have earned them a far-flung following of individuals who are delighted by the majestic flowers woven with ribbons, paper and cloth. Against the darker backdrop, this nostalgic celebration of Ukrainian craftsmanship and tradition celebrates nationalism in the most remarkable of ways.