PFW – A Vessel for Love

The past week took on a different purpose than expected, as a long anticipated celebration of creativity turned into a tribute to those who’s greater freedoms had been dramatically curtailed. 

At times the theatrics felt out of place amid breaking news, and at times they felt awkward. But as Ukraine-fled designer Lilia Litkoskaya shared, ‘the fashion community has all eyes watching. I am lucky enough to be here, to use that platform in showing people what is going on. People are dying today, not tomorrow, and we need the voice of fashion to be heard.’ In conjunction with the Federation de la Mode, upon setting foot in the showroom, Lilia and her followers embarked upon a week of protest and performance in solemnity against the crisis. 

Designers like Gabriella Hearst – Creative Director of Chloe – shifted her ‘rewilding’ collection as a means of inducing ‘a vessel for love’.

Baltic-based designer Nanushka honoured those suffering in setting the show to a string-quartet of the Ukraine National Anthem.

Creative Director of Balenciaga and Georgian refugee, Demna Gvasalia utilised an apocalyptic VR experience involved by an association to his own trauma escaping. Stella McCartney closed her show, captured at Le Centre de Pompidou, to John Lenon’s tune ‘Give Peace a Chance’.

As designer’s shifted their vision in respect for the crisis, LVMH brands like Louis Vuitton and Prada to Paris’s showstopper Chanel discontinued business in Russia. 

Beautiful, tirelessly fashioned collections unveiled themselves throughout the week amid treacherous circumstances. What prevailed was a respect and appreciation for the freedom to create, one that was to be cherished and responsibly practised to its fullest potential: a privilege.

Taking to the streets, Litkoskaya and the mass of designers, press, and buyers attracted the wider city behind her. Fashion became a mobiliser, as Lilia shared ‘without channels to capture the real information of what is happening, those in Russia will not know what is going on until the West ceases deliveries and blocks them off.’ By leveraging the power of creativity in crisis, her intel from a mother and workforce back in Kyiv would most profoundly impress upon the government that current sanctions did not go far enough. 

By the closing show, 1.5 million people had fled the country, seeking refuge in Paris and other major European cities. Fashion Week provided a source of creative refuge, as those displaced and in solidarity leveraged the power of the catwalk in issuing a humanitarian plea. 

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By Isabel Froemming

Isabel Froemming is a contributing fashion sustainability writer, model, and activist based in London. Her research focuses on transparent supply chains and gender equity in Indonesia. Isabel ran communications for Copenhagen Fashion Week for SS21 and prior to that acted as an editorial associate at sustainable e-tailer Rêve en Vert.