Ira Lupu

Long Legs, Constructivism and Eastern European Kitsch

May 2014

Kiev is not a city you’d immediately associate with fashion – especially in these days of passive-aggressive war with Russia. Yet, the Ukrainian capital loves fashion enough to have two fashion weeks; Ukrainian Fashion Week (UFW) is one and Kiev Fashion Days (KFD) is the other.

The main difference between UFW and KFD is their age. Last March, UFW held its 34th season while at the same time KFD celebrated three and a half years of existence. At its conception, KFD was created in reaction to UFW. Back then, UFW was a rather kitschy event – full of glitter, pretentious luxury and glamorous politicians’ wives in the frows.

Forever looking to the West, the organisers of KFD tried to set up an event of a more European level that would feature younger talent (in the end, that largely meant designers who were into minimalism). Their target audience was the fashion forward crowd, the hipsters and the so-called “creatives”, while UFW was more for pop stars and rich men’s wives.

Today, UFW is not as kitschy as it used to be and KFD is not as hipster. Both fashion weeks take place in decent venues, hold no less than 20 scheduled shows and presentations, attend to hundreds of guests and include educational programming and design competitions. Hiccups usually have to do with planning, a lack of funds and the quality of certain designs – which is normal for a country so young, with no long-standing fashion industry.

Basically it’s a little hard to tell if either event is better than the other, but the rivalry between organisers is still alive and well.