A few weeks ago, I happened upon a “fashion story” that coupled high fashion with folk dress to examine the future of Ukraine and its cultural heritage. In an article called “Fashion Dissidence,” 032c Magazine published fashion designer Anton Belinskiy’s inspiration from the country’s anti-Yanukovych protests in November 2013. Seeing a prime opportunity to use his creative powers to make a statement, Belinskiy connected with a photographer and a model on Facebook–aged 16 and 15, respectively–and they created a “fashion story.” Using traditional clothing interspersed with the collection he had shown days before at Mercedes Benz Kiev Fashion Days, Belinskiy and his photographer Alexandra Trishina and model Nastya Petryshina showed their allegiance to their Ukrainian heritage while expressing dissent and dissatisfaction.
But you may have been following the protests in Kiev since November, and may know that the violence and discord in Maidan (Independence Square) have escalated significantly in the last week, with huge fires and close to thirty people killed. The many paragraphs I wrote may find their space in a later post, but for the time being don’t feel appropriate. That is a discussion in itself, that I am reticent to bring fashion and dress into the conversation about civil rights, governance, and the right to free speech: am I codifying the idea of clothing and fashion as superficial?
I do want to share the photographs that caught my eye and inspired me weeks ago to write about the different interactions fashion has with protest and civil unrest:
As Belinskiy noted to 032c Magazine,
“Around us there were students covered in blood, protesters, journalists. At first they could not understand what we were doing, and some were even a bit aggressive, but then after understanding what it was they strongly supported us.”
Find more of Trishina’s photographs here. Are they moving? predictable? provoking?
If you’d like to read more about dress and protest today, here on Worn Through we have generally covered “protest fashion” by looking at how protestors present themselves while participating in social uprisings, statements, and sit-ins. Our contributors have written thoughtful and insightful posts, such as Tove Hermansson’s work on secondhand clothing as protest, subversive knitting,Yippies and political fashions, and more. Brenna’s Bits and Bytes column touched on the use of hoodies after Trayvon Martin’s death and Lisa and Monica collaborated on a field report for Anarchists of Style: Occupy Wall Street.
Can fashion or the use of clothing as art be considered a constructive, meaningful reaction to political upheaval? Leave your respectful comments below.