While protests are intensifying in Europe and Paris, Fashion Week is in full swing in the French capital. During the fashion shows, the designers wanted to pass on a message of peace.
Last Friday, Hermès was the first in France to announce the temporary closure of its three stores in Russia. Chanel, LVMH and Kering followed suit: “Given the current circumstances in the region, LVMH regrets to announce the temporary closure of its stores in Russia as of March 6,” said a spokesperson for LVMH.
Fashion Week and solidarity
The virtual show of the Russian designer Valentin Yudashkin, scheduled Tuesday as part of the Paris Fashion Week, was removed because he “did not dissociate” from the war waged by Russia in Ukraine. The designer, who has been parading for years in Paris, is among others one of the designers of new uniforms of the Russian army. “Our team wanted to verify the position of Valentin Yudashkin. If he had expressed reservations about the war in Ukraine, it would have been hard to remove him from the program,” Ralph Toledano, president of the Federation of Haute-Couture, explained.
For the fashion shows, nothing is certain: the fate of the Russian houses Ulyana Sergeenko and Yanina Couture, guests of the week of Haute-Couture, will depend on a committee that meets “every six months” to decide the entrants and outgoing. “We can’t just jump on everyone without thinking it through. You don’t attack people, you don’t throw people out without checking things out,” explains Ralph Toledano.
After two years of pandemic, the Paris Fashion Week was meant to be a celebration, but the seriousness of the events has given rise to a concern and at the same time, a surge of solidarity. Olivier Rousteing, the artistic director of the house Balmain expressed himself on his social networks: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ukrainians. We are inspired by their dignity, their resilience and their dedication to freedom.” He announced that he has donated to the emergency fund of the UN Refugee Agency and invites those who can to do the same.
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At Balenciaga, the atmosphere of the show was very apocalyptic, the models were parading in the snow, struggling to make their way. The last two silhouettes were the Ukrainian flag, a yellow outfit, then a blue one. A way for the artistic director Demna Gvasalia to send a message: he himself had to flee his country, Georgia, at age 12, because of the war.
Anna October, a Ukrainian designer forced to flee her country, said during the semi-finals of the LVMH Prize: “Ten days ago, I was still in Kiev. I woke up after my neighborhood was bombed and spent 24 hours under fire. I managed to get out of the country and arrived in Paris seven days ago. Some people think that Fashion Week has no reason to be in this context. I want to tell them that it is even more important to continue, as all creative industries have tried to do in tragic moments of history.”
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