“The Moment We Are Living in Is So Epic—Why Don’t We See That on the Runways?” A Conversation With Vogue Ukraine’s Venya Brykalin


Venya Brykalin, the fashion director of Vogue Ukraine, has been living in Western Europe since the day last February when he arrived at Milan Fashion Week to find out his country had been invaded. Now in Paris, he’s channeling his energy into visibility for creatives back home. In May and July, with his partner Sofiya Kvasha, and an assist from fashion insiders like Charlotte Chesnais, Mathias Augustyniak of M/M Paris, PR maven Lucien Pagès, and the charitable non-profit organization Fashion Girls for Humanity (founded by Miki Higasa, Kikka Hanazawa, Julie Gilhart, and Tomoko Ogura), he staged a pop-up in Chesnais’s not-yet-opened boutique on the Boulevard Saint Germain. 

During PFW, Brykalin helped orchestrate Vogue Ukraine’s takeover of the trendy Marais boutique Leclaireur, at the invitation of its owners, Armand and Martine Hadida, for a showcase celebrating Ukrainian fashion. As the shows were wrapping, he sat down with Vogue to talk about helping Ukrainian designers feel seen, fashion as resistance, and its relevance in wartime. This conversation has been condensed.  

Hi Venya, we’re almost through Fashion Month. What’s your take? 

Fashion people are always talking about what the conversation is, and to tell the truth I don’t see what it is. It’s like looking at shards of a mirror and trying to figure out what the whole thing might look like. I find myself wondering whether fashion—in the broadest sense—still reflects the times. Honestly, I’m not sure I have the answer, and I think that reflects the state of things. I think the moment we are living in is so epic—socially, politically, gender-wise—and all these topics are burning with urgency. But I don’t see that on the runway so much, and I’m not sure why that is. 

On the other hand, there’s a lot of talk about optimism.

Right, and maybe there’s just a delay because collections are developed way in advance. As a community, we repeat ourselves in order not to comment on certain things. Fashion belongs to the realm of escapism, but I don’t think escaping reality is how creative people should be thinking, how artists and businesses should operate right now. It’s a way of denying liberty and the responsibility of reflecting on what’s happening. It’s a missed opportunity to be real. To me, it’s ironic that the closest fashion came to reflecting on the news this season was upon the death of the queen. Everything else feels kind of zoned out in a way.

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