Daria Shapovalova has been at the center of Ukrainian fashion since she started her popular television show, Fashion Week with Daria Shapovalova, at age 19. With that initial venture and the continuous projects that have followed, she has not only singlehandedly changed the very fabric of Ukrainian fashion, but also helped put Ukraine on the map as a world style capital.
At the Cafe Imbir, located just a few minutes’ walk from the Olympic soccer stadium in central Kiev, we got the chance to chat with Daria during Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days in late August. Taking a break from immediately overseeing MBKFD in order to complete her Master’s of Business Administration in San Francisco, Kiev fashion’s “Queen Bee,” as Vogue UK described her, is nonetheless as attuned to Ukraine’s style scene as ever.
Contemporary Ukrainian fashion, Daria told us, is in the hands of the country’s designers. “The product is the key and it highly depends on the creativity of the designers, if Ukrainian fashion can continue to be a global phenomenon,” she said. “Ukrainian designers have a great credit of trust and love from the industry, so their main responsibility now is to produce competitive and innovative clothes.”
For Daria, style ultimately comes down to the clothing itself. Her favorite designers of the moment include Sanahunt and Helen Marlen Mandarin. “I also like all the small stores and boutiques which sell a mix of designers, both Ukrainian and international,” she added. The proof is apparent: Daria can be spotted wearing anything from Anna K and Anna October to Miu Miu and Pucci while out and about at various fashion weeks.
Then again, there’s more to certain garments than meets the eye, as Daria attests. When asked about favorite pieces from her closet, she responded, “I love those which are closely attached to some precious events in my life. All of my Comme des Garçons, Prada, and Alaïa dresses are works of art.”
In a broader sense, the fashion industry in Ukraine has been enduring a rocky period along with the country as a whole, recently. “I hope Ukraine will become stronger and that we will overcome corruption,” Daria stated. “I know a lot of clever, active, talented people and I hope they will all manage to live in the country which will give them enough opportunities for stable development.”
If the worldwide success of Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days is any indication, strength and resilience are defining characteristics of Ukrainian fashion. In turn, the clothing itself attests to the thriving creativity that continues to build with each succeeding season.
A prime example? The ruffled cold shoulder Anna October Fall 2017 dress that Daria reclined in while at the Café Imbir. With artsy polkadots sprinkled over bright, spirited red, it seamlessly combined three of this season’s hottest trends in one pleasing piece. Radiating confidence, joy, and composure, it embodied the high hopes for the future of Ukrainian fashion held by the key participant wearing it, not to mention the global fashion community at large. — jas