There’s a lot to unpack here. Ha! For a show on a railway platform, un-packing seems appropriate. Especially if the collection is titled “ElectroGipsy”. Let’s get to it.
Designer Jean Gritsfeldt presented his Ukrainian Fashion Week spring-summer ’19 show at a railroad platform, complete with timetable signage and announcements at Kiev’s iconic train station. Clever, delightful, so into it. Then, the title. ElectroGipsy. Frankly, I don’t know what that even means. Nor care. That pop lore is tiresome. Most EU governmental and cultural agencies regularly release reports and studies akin to “Anti-Gypsyism is a barrier to Roma inclusion“. Rosalia’s massively popular music video Malamente, which prompted premature labels “Spanish Beyoncé”, is a case study in anti-gitanismo discourse in Spain now. Meanwhile, NYC label Gypsy Sport has distinguished itself among the most diverse runway casts on the fashion weeks circuit. And Cher still gets to sing “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” like it’s 1971… To Gritsfeldts’s credit (?), he collaborated with the Ukrainian Roma Theater on the show and his looks weren’t appropriative of Roma culture. Then why go there?! To me it reads more as weird PR pressure to have cool hashtags then any authentic inspiration. See: “Bowie.” Was it good? I’ll break down some highlight after the video and you can see full runway report below.
It was shiny and wickedly layered and the pixelated sweaters I liked the last time were back in full force. For Gritsfeldt, anywhere is a runway and anytime is a party, no velvet ropes. Unless, you want to let your inner child skip ’em! I loved the postage stamp prints. It reminded me of my own collections as a kid. And of Mary Katrantzou, of course. But mostly of me as a kid. I have a documented affinity to designers who use travel motif in their work. Those shorts would go so well with my toy airplanes jacket! #Wishlist
The show reminded me of another serious matter. The situation in Ukraine itself. I had reported from Kiev last year for Forbes noting lingering wartime tension and its impact on the country’s creative community and its output. I was not surprised to see Gritsfeldt get a Reuters shout-out to 1.6M followers. It was a visually striking show, including a very cinematic backstage. I was also not surprised to see a Financial Times post on Instagram within the same dates: “The Human Cost of the Ukraine Conflict”. Suddenly, the entire train gig became a poignant reference to displacement in Eastern Ukraine, and beyond. There is no turning away from the complex realities wherein fashion and geopolitics intersect. Thus, Jean Gritsfeldt hit the zeitgeist nail on its head.
Runway images by VIVA.UA (C) 2018