Svitlana Bevza has been showing her collection in New York for a few seasons now, and her dreamy, feminine minimalism has established a strong start. For Fall 2019, she wanted to let the major fashion city a little more into her world, so she staged a show and collection taking inspiration from her hometown of Kyiv. Blending references to her childhood and 20th-century icons, the show highlighted Bevza's mix of Ukrainian and globalized experience, and by extension, just how seamlessly rising Eastern European designers fit into the modern fashion world.
Rather than going for a typical one-off runway romp, Bevza showed her collection twice, evoking memories of trunk shows as an announcer described the clothes each time. This created a vintage feel, fitting as the audience learned inspirations for pieces came from the likes of Freddie Mercury, Grace Kelly, and Cher.
"It came from the ‘50s or ‘60s," Bevza said of the history behind her choice. "I wanted to add fun and a bit more exclusivity to the atmosphere by having the announcer talk about the inspiration behind each model's look." The designer also mentioned that the show evoked memories of her upbringing, as the space in the Ukrainian National Home resembled the common halls in Ukrainian secondary schools.
The looks themselves blended the minimalist elegance that's now a Bevza signature with more explicit prints and references that hint at the designer's background and values. White dresses and geometric cuts were prominent, but so was a floral print of Bevza's own iPhone photo of the Kyiv National Botanic Garden. Accessories had meaningful inspiration too, as the leg warmers prominent throughout the collection referenced "rhytmika," a morning gymnastics show the designer watched as a child, and earring styles came from an old practice of allowing thread to remain in the ear lobes until the piercing healed. But Bevza's choices also referenced the future, as her puffy coats featured a trompe l'oeil print, resembling fur coats from afar in a concept the designer calls Faux Reality.
"People in Ukraine and Russia still wear furs, but I’m trying to show some alternatives," Bevza said of her coats. "You can avoid killing animals, but still have the iconic fur pieces that all the girls love."
Bevza truly understands how to execute luxury minimalism in a creative way, sharing her experiences and viewpoint through motifs that remain eye-catching across cultures. From the relaxed cuts of her signature gowns to the adjustable see-through top towards the end of the show, the designer seems set to continue her rise through a blend of nostalgia and innovation.
"There’s a lot of interesting things happening in my hometown, and the styling specifically resembles how women used to dress in our country," Bevza says of what she hopes audiences will see about Ukrainian fashion from her collection. "Each culture can bring something to the global fashion scene."
See every look from the collection in the gallery below.