Ask an editor 10 years ago whether they would be attending Ukraine fashion week and the answer would be a resounding no. But thanks to a growing interest with the East, and Kiev’s fashion scene in particular, this year you’ll likely be fighting the same editor for the last plane ticket over.
Cool, sophisticated and bold – Ukrainian fashion talent is setting a new and exciting agenda, not only for the region, but for fashion at large. No one embodies this more than MARCHI, run by mother-daughter design duo Valeria Marchi and Tasha Kukhar. The pair have fostered a modern, quirky aesthetic, which couples bright fabrics with off-beat juxtapositions to great effect.
Theirs is a vision which speaks to the new Ukraine, with designs that embody the undercurrent of creative energy running through Kiev. Ahead of Ukraine Fashion Week, Culture Trip goes Behind the Seams with Tasha to talk about their design influences and keeping it in the family.
Culture Trip (CT): You talk about clothing as a performance of internal feelings. Why do you think this?
Tasha Kukhar (TK): Our brand believes that clothing should match to your ‘inner world’ and emphasise your feelings. Such clothes are definitely going to make life better; because we create clothes from the heart, we make what we want to wear ourselves.
CT: How did MARCHI come about?
TK: Valeria, who founded the brand, was the person who decided to bring the experience of tailoring and design development of the family into one big brand. MARCHI is our family name. In fact, the history of the brand really began with our great-great-grandmothers, who worked as seamstresses in early Russia.
CT: What are the best parts of working together?
TK: There are many pros and cons. The good part is an opportunity to consult each other and to encourage each other. We always feel as though we are one team, and this makes us stronger. But of course, because we are a mother and daughter, we have age-related conflicts and disagreements. However this often leads to many good ideas in the end!
CT: You studied at LCF, how do you find the fashion scene in London in contrast to Kiev?
TK: London and Kiev are two different cultural centres. London is much larger and more modern than Kiev, and it has a very specific identity. Personally, we are much closer to Kiev. Ukraine is our homeland; it’s more comfortable to work here.
CT: What’s it like to launch a fashion brand from Ukraine, are local audiences quite receptive?
TK: Now Ukraine is a favourable area for the development of design and fashion. We have found that Ukrainians love local brands, and like to support designers where possible. But the main buyers are still from overseas.
CT: What are your design influences?
TK: We are always inspired by history, and love looking at different periods. Most often our design is influenced by emotions seen in historical costumes. We also like to work with colour, and are inspired by the hues and tones that are found in nature.
CT: I love your approach to texture and the way you combine silhouettes. Was that quite natural for you both when you started, or a more a contrived approach?
TK: Yes, we devote much time to silhouettes and textures to create interesting and original designs. We have had this approach from the very start of our work, and it feels natural to us. We try not to overload the look, and keep it instinctive.
CT: What are your favourite materials to work with, and why?
TK: We really love to work with organdie. We found this organic cotton organza in London and fall in love. MARCHI prefers organic fabrics.
CT: Looking at SS18, what have been your main inspirations for the collection?
TK: This is secret at the moment! But we can tell you that the general inspiration was the costumes and drawings of the Eskimos.
CT: What’s in store for the rest of the year?
TK: At this moment we are working hard on natural down coats. All last year we studied how to make them, and now we have been successful in sewing and developing new styles for the fierce Ukrainian winter.