Wonderland learns Cyrillic with Ukranian designer Yulia Yefimtchuk.
Do you speak any Cyrillic? If not, Ukranian designer Yulia Yefimtchuk will teach you. With each season Yulia Yefimtchuk+ introduces more phrases, graphically printed on to the front of her collections — but you don’t need to understand what you are reading to grasp that Yulia Yefimtchuk has something to say. Inspired by the political situation in the Ukraine, her designs speak more than the words that mark them.
Yulia Yefimtchuk+ first appeared on everyone’s radar after she received Opening Ceremony’s Honor Award at the 2014 Hyéres Festival. Since then, along with featured catch phrases boldly emblazoned, the design elements that are recognizably the signature of Yulia Yefimtchuk+ are military inspired pockets and bright orange and red accents.
Her SS16 collection was labelled with the Cyrillic word is “Becha,” which means “spring” in English, and the + symbol that sends positive vibes. Wonderland has Yulia Yefimtchuk explain her design choices and their deeper meanings.
Can you tell me more about your childhood growing up in the Ukraine?
My childhood coincided with the political reformation in the USSR called “perestroika.” It was a hard period for my parents to provide for my sister and me. We wanted a lot of things, but there were no money and stores were empty. Now I am happy for my modest childhood, I learned to appreciate labour and everything I receive.
How do you think fashion in the Kyiv, Ukraine compares to London, Paris, New York or even Moscow?
Street fashion does not differ a lot, as the world now is cosmopolite, borders are open for travelling and internet exists. But generally people in Kiev are not open to fashion as a tool to self expression. They simply are not ready.
What drew you to study fashion?
Art pushed me to study fashion. My father is an artist so I was always interested in art and the possibility of dressing up in an interesting way.
Can you tell me more about your work experience and what designers you have assisted prior to launching your label?
According to my educational background, I am an artists of decorative and applied arts. I studied a lot on the history of Ukrainian traditional costume and embroidery. I worked in different ateliers, among them V O Z I A N O V and four years in studio POUSTOVIT, it was such a valuable experience and I am very thankful for this chance.
The Russian word for spring is on the front of your orange jumpsuit. This isn’t the first time you have used words/slogans on your garments. What motivates you to use the Cyrillic phrases you do?
This is my art. It just comes from my inner world, I cannot find other reasons. In everyday life I speak only Ukrainian and speak Russian (really bad), but in my collections now I want to express my thoughts only this way.
What does the + sign mean for your brand name?
Plus in the brand name symbolize all the people who work with me and help to make the brand better.
Is the + sign on SS16 garments just your logo or what was the meaning of the + for SS16?
I used the cross in SS16 collection, as this symbol has very positive energy and serves as protection from everything bad.
What draws you to the graphic look of the type on your garments?
It is connected with my character, as I like straightforward and simple people. And this is reflected in my clothes – they are simple and graphic.
You speak of “propaganda posters that highlight a certain image of women.” Can you describe the image of women you are referring to?
An ordinary woman. Girls who are not afraid of self expression.
What can the female body be an instrument for?
The female body is undoubtedly interesting and beautiful, and always serves as a tool and as an inspiration for many creators. It expresses energy and interest.
Do you design for yourself or whom do you have in mind?
When I work I always think about women and girls who are interested to wear dresses or costume.
You use a lot of orange/red throughout all your collections. Can you tell me what significance these bright colours have to you?
Red is love, happiness, joy, optimism and future. Orange is the colour of spring, beginning of something new, awakening.
I understand music, art and vintage photos inspire your collections. Can you name some of the musician and artists, or even other fashion designers, which are currently inspiring you?
I am always inspired by electronic music and the more complicated the better it is for my creative process. Sometimes even escalators in the Metro sound interesting. Also, I love looking through the photo catalogue LIFE, I always find something interesting there.
Politics also inspire your collections, can you tell me a bit more about your political view points?
I am a Pacifist. The political system in the world is old fashioned, and I think a new one is needed.
What is the story behind your SS16 collection?
To bring SPRING to the world, political and moral. Spring is the future.
What would you like to achieve in future collections?
To create a strong brand, which will be interesting for people around the world.
WORDS: Janine Leah Bartels