Emilia J. Jastrzebski
After a two-year pandemic-related delay to the Fall/Winter iconic Paris Fashion Week, solemn loomed over the atmosphere when days before the 2022 resurge, Vladimir Putin launched an unmerited war against Ukraine. As a response, the head of Paris Fashion Week’s organizing organization, Ralph Toledano, released a statement imploring attendees to “experience the shows of the coming days with solemnity, and in reflection of these dark hours.”
After deliberation between designers to carry on with the event, it ultimately started on Sunday, alongside many symbolic gestures to exert solidarity. The Ukrainian flag was hung over attendees’ chairs, and Demna, the director of luxury label Balenciaga, delivered a poem in Ukrainian by Oleksandr Oles, one of Ukraine’s most revered poets.
Kering, the parent firm of Saint Laurent, Gucci, and Alexander McQueen, had announced that all operations in Russia would be suspended. Richemont, the owner of Hermes and Cartier, was the first to commit to temporarily closing stores and ceasing operations in Russia. Following suit were LVMH (a corporation with 14 luxury fashion labels in its portfolio) and Chanel. LVMH offered a €5 million ($5.5 million) commitment to the International Committee of the Red Cross to aid direct and indirect victims of the violence. With Mica Argañaraz following, profound supermodel Gigi Hadid has as committed to give all of her profits from fashion month to relief efforts in Ukraine.
Other expressions of support for Ukraine were more discreet. Cecilie Bahnsen, a Danish designer who made her debut at Paris Fashion Week this season, choreographed a moment of
pause towards the end of her show, which is a crucial moment for any designer. During a backstage interview, models stood shoulder to shoulder in what the designer described as a “quiet moment of togetherness.” Further in the week, Stella McCartney ended her show with John Lennon’s anti-war song “Give Peace a Chance,” and Nicolas Ghesquière’s Louis Vuitton show ended with an oversized blue and yellow striped polo.
Petar Petrov, a Ukrainian-born designer living in Vienna, was also in Paris to showcase his latest collection. He noted the day after he debuted his new clothing via a brief video that fashion designers, particularly smaller, independent firms like his, can only do so much to help. His company declared that 10% of earnings from online orders would be donated to the UN Refugee Agency and Caritas.
Toledano summed up the week by saying he thought the brands were respectable with their showcasing’s and approaches. When asked about fashion’s role in a world riven by violence and catastrophe, Toledano said the industry is full of “sensitive individuals,” beginning with the designers.
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