Sunday, July 19, 2015


Designer Yasia Khomenko posing with items from #theteeshirtproject [photo provided by Yasia Khomenko]

Though peace and stability continue to waiver in Ukraine, fashion is shifting from an industry catering to the well-to-do, to an accessible art form of understated luxury, sophistication and individual style. A relative newcomer to the fashion arena, big brands Gucci, Burberry, Chanel and others see potential in an untapped market and set up shop in the 2000s. Fast fashion soon follows with Mango, Zara and Topshop. Kiev Fashion Days (sponsored by Mercedes Benz) emerges in 2010 as the byproduct of a maturing creative culture. Along with socio-political shifts, new players appear; young designers like Yasia Khomenko and Anna October begin forming the foundation of Ukraine's formidable fashion empire with international distribution and notoriety. Keep reading for a Q&A with Yasia Khomenko of RCR Khomenko, one of Kiev's newly established fashion talent... 

Sketches [provided by Yasia Khomenko]

Daria Shapovalova established Kiev Fashion week in 2010, the year you completed school. As an up-and-coming designer yourself (at that time), how did it feel to be part of the first set of influencers to evolve the fashion showcase in the Ukraine? Watching fashion progress in the major fashion hubs (Paris, Milan, NY) and being an active influencer in your own City, what differences and similarities do you see coming through in the Kiev fashion scene?

Our fashion scene was established in the early 90s, but it was freaky and immature--it was a time of investigation and experiment in post-Soviet Ukraine. But time has passed and our local fashion has grown. With Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days, Ukraine was first introduced as a fashion hub to the foreign public. I’m happy to be a part of it. I appreciate the life circumstances that happen to me--being in the right place at the right time and the ability to showcase my designs in different countries and to communicate with such a precious minds! Definitely, even 8-10 years ago, it seemed rather impossible for a fashion designer.

 S/S 2014 Collection [photo provided by Yasia Khomenko]

Signature is important in building a brand and maintaining a point of recognition from season to season. What is your signature, and the common thread that runs between each new collection? What drives the idea of childhood in your very ‘adult’ clothing?

At first, I was involved in different vintage fabric combinations--sometimes materials I found defined the collection theme for me. All the crazy patterns and old technologies got such a great inspiration influence for me, that I hardly survive travelling across local flea markets. But later another significant thing has happened – I discovered that there was deeper force for me to act – I was involved in a long unending story, that my imagination produced. I named it TV series in fashion. One full story is one season and each collection is like an episode. Previous season was about girl’s maturity, her awareness of sexuality. This season has started with an episode in which we got acquainted with girl who had lost in woods. Every collection still has vintage elements, but now I supplement it with regular fabrics, silk printing and new technologies

Yasia Khomenko at work [photo provided by the designer]

Fashion emphasizes aesthetics and attraction. What catches your eye? Do you prefer patterns or solids? What color palettes do you tend towards in your wardrobe and in designing your collections?

I prefer "wonderland" style; sometimes I imagine myself as a surreal character from Tim Walker’s photos. I think my addiction to a bright palette is obvious. Actually, I rarely work with black. My favorite colors are pale blue, deep pink and horny red!  

There has long been a healthy amount of political energy in the Ukraine. With history and culture being an element of inspiration for many designers, do you see any high notes of the Ukraine come across in the Kiev style scene and in your own designs? Do you see fashion making an impact on politics?

Revolution changed us a lot. Definitely. But for me, it is more a social part of life.
I felt a strong part of my country and its people. My fashion plot moves rather aside. It’s only about my own illusions and stories – though I like to include satire as well.

 Spring/Summer [photo provided by Yasia Khomenko]

More and more, the perils of fashion manufacturing are being uncovered in exposés like the series Sweatshop and the movie True Cost. Does the prospect of severe waste, pollution, low cost labor and other disparities influence your design/manufacturing process? As a designer, does visibility into the manufacturing process impact creativity in your design process? Would you consider incorporating new materials or methodology (e.g. 3D printing, alternative dying processes) to minimize the giant ecological footprint caused by the fashion industry?

I can say that ecology very significant for me--it includes both business ethics and a harmless manufacturing process. I try to use old fabrics. When it becomes hard to involve them in main collections, I try to produce capsule collections as well. For example, my latest collaboration was with Kiev eco chic it-girl Natasha Isupova; she gave birth to our #theshirtproject - a series of tops and dresses from men’s shirts. Secondly, I pay much attention to healthy working conditions and fair labor.

Yasia Khomenko and sister [photo provided by Yasai Khomenko]

Even when sparse, there is a little down time, sometimes. What is your morning routine like? What do you do for fun? How do you de-stress?

How I wish to say that my morning starts with a glass of mineral water and physical activity… But it happens rather rarely. I can afford myself movies in the morning, if it’s necessary for me to wake up. I try to work every day except really “I don’t want to work! No way!!” days. All the fun starts in my studio, where I need to dance like a crazy monkey (I mean REALLY CRAZY MONKEY) for at least one hour to make my blood really boil. It’s elixir for every life situation. Than my work begins – drawings, pattern making, and sewing.

Autumn/Winter 2015 [photo provided by the designer]

Everyone has a story--what's yours? How did you ‘find fashion’? Who do you look towards as inspiration? Do you wear your own creations? Do you wear other designers?

I can definitely say that it was fashion that found me in a person of my mother. I dreamed to become an illustrator like my father, but one day after watching Chanel showcase my mother said, "Hey, Yasia, I think you’d rather become a fashion designer. Here, take a look on Karl’s (Lagerfeld) life – it’s not so bad." I clearly remember that morning, that life changing morning…  I can’t say that I was really ambitious about that choice at the first time – I hated the idea of sewing with all my cells. But day after day, with new people I met in my life, with all new knowledge I started to think another way. And finally, after 5 years of my struggle with myself, I’ve got really comfortable in such a role. There was a designer that helped me a lot with that – Dr.Noki. He gave me first inspiration by showing his life position and recycled crazy stuff in some Russian fashion magazine. He claimed that there is nothing important about doing fashion; it’s just a certain game you play with public and yourself. Since that the story of RCR KHOMENKO begins.

Speaking about myself, I can say that of course I’m number one fan of my stuff – but still I choose more trashy style because I’m so inaccurate in my everyday leisure.

A/W 2012 ad campaign [photo provided by the designer]

How about a few favorites --your choice... and 3 words to describe yourself!

Favorite Food - Cherries
Favorite Music Band - Sublime
Favorite # - 26
Favorite Material - Cotton
Favorite Music Piece - Rachmaninov's 3D concert
3 Words - In our country, it sounds like "Tiny but suitable"

1 comment:

  1. Lovely outfit and amazing pics=)
    KISSES from Italy


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