Fabric of Freedom: Empowering Ukrainian refugee designers

Fabric of Freedom, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at supporting Ukrainian refugee fashion designers finding sanctuary in London, held its inaugural fashion show in April

Date: 08 May 2024

The event, organised by London Met’s BA Fashion Marketing and Journalism course, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and UA in UK Community with the help of Creative Headshots London, celebrated inclusion and diversity by showcasing both student and professional models. The ornate Hall was packed to almost full capacity.

Helen Fielding, author of Bridget Jones’s Diary, added a celebrity touch of extra glamour by attending with her 17-year-old daughter. She told the team she had been looking through Eventbrite for something “interesting and unusual” for them to attend together.

Collections from Galushko, Mandyradzhy, Selera, AG Studio and Tetyana Palchinska graced the runway, captivating the audience with their unique blend of heritage, innovation, and artistic expression.

AG Studio unveiled "Homeland," a collection that seamlessly blends the timeless appeal of linen with the laid-back elegance of resort wear. Each piece embodied elements of ethnic identity, serving as a poignant reminder of the enduring connection to one's homeland.

"It's a bit dispiriting that the world has only become aware of these amazing Ukrainian designers due to the war, but we are proud to be able to provide a vehicle for them to display their diverse array of fashion talent and help them thrive," said Assoc Prof Wendy Sloane, who helped plan the event alongside fashion curators Olenka Martynyuk and Nataliia Bartkiv, Lecturer Joel Chernin and LCC’s Vittoria Zerbini.

Galushko presented "From the Portrait of Darkness", a collection inspired by the eternal themes of immortality, rebirth, and the human thirst for life. Mandyradzhy's "Avis Libidinis" collection explored themes of sexuality, freedom, and self-discovery, celebrating the evolution of self-awareness and the struggle to recognise one's uniqueness in a world that often imposes standards and roles. Selera, a sustainable brand committed to environmental stewardship, showcased a collection crafted from eco-friendly fabrics such as nettle, hemp, and linen. 

Tetyana Palchinska’s final collection displayed an array of gloriously colourful flower crowns and baskets, reflecting the heritage of Ukraine, especially her blue and yellow crowns with matching ribbons cascading on each side – a tribute to the Ukrainian flag. 

Chernin commented: "This was a real example of collaboration across borders, across disciplines and across corporations, all uniting together for a good cause."

Aleksandra Volkova, founder of UA in UK Community added: “There are many challenges that the five designers have had to face daily since their forced relocation due to the war. Some examples are the new environment, a new consumer philosophy and methods of promotion in local markets; looking for fresh sources of inspiration and ways to restore one’s business.”

The Fabric of Freedom fashion show not only celebrated the creative achievements of the designers, but also served as a platform for them to network with relevant stakeholders within the fashion industry to further their brands' growth and development.

For more information on BA Fashion Marketing and Journalism, please visit the course pages.

Fashion model posing in red lace dress