Svitlana Bevza is one of Kyiv’s leading designers, known for infusing her Ukrainian identity into her minimalist designs. She showed her fall 2022 collection on February 14 at New York Fashion Week, as tensions between Russia and Ukraine were mounting. She closed her show with a projection of the country’s blue-and-yellow flag. A few days later, she flew back to Kyiv to be with her husband and two children, as well as her mother and mother-in-law, who are now staying with her. Since Bevza’s return, she has remained in Kyiv as President Vladimir Putin of Russia has ordered an invasion of Ukraine. Currently, Russian troops are outside of Kyiv, and she hears explosions and gunfire from her home in the suburbs. Throughout this, she is fiercely hopeful that the people of Ukraine will live through this and unite. Bevza tells Vogue about her experience the last couple of days.
Yesterday, I woke up around 5 am. I heard explosions, like one every minute for 20 minutes, just like that. I didn’t understand what it was. I thought, Is it near or far? We calmed down, waited, scrolled the news and our government’s websites. The next big explosion was much louder. It was during the daytime. My daughter was sleeping, and I grabbed her immediately from her bed. We went to the safest place in our house with our family and stood there for 20 minutes. The explosion was actually the sound of another rocket hitting a Russian plane that was going to the airport. We heard helicopters and planes too. Yesterday, Russia started to shoot weapons at houses and airports. Now, civilian buildings have been destroyed and civilians have been killed.
Last night my husband and I slept on and off. It is dangerous to go to work in Kyiv, where my team is based. I am in the suburbs, and those who stayed in Kyiv have to go to basements at night because of the sirens. Every city in Ukraine has sirens a couple of times a day. A lot of people were sleeping in the metro stations, their basements, or the parking lots. The woman who is our partner in knitwear is sleeping in a parking lot, and our accountant was in the basement.
I check the news every minute. I have to be connected with my husband, and I’m trying to spread information about what is really going on. I am also checking the news from Europe. We have shortages of bread in our grocery stores. I want to thank our workers in grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies who are trying to work.
A lot of volunteers have been coming to donate blood. If people who want to help can’t fight, they can drive cars for older people, donate blood, and help with food. We did this in 2014 during the [Maidan protests].
I’m nervous for my husband. He is very brave, and there is a danger to every man from 18 to 60 in Ukraine. It is total mobilisation. [Editor’s note: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine decreed that all men between the ages of 18 to 60 stay in the country in case of a broader military mobilisation.] There are a lot of volunteers and a lot of people joining the army. It’s insane right now what is happening to Ukraine. The spirit of the nation feels like it is reborn.
During New York Fashion Week, people were talking about the worst-case scenario of Russia attacking Ukraine. I had the chance to fly to Paris, change tickets, and then stay in New York. I came back. I understood the danger.
I can’t tell you that I feel safe now. There are people who are leaving for Lviv and to western Ukraine, but I am not sure that it is super safe to drive on the road. My family is here. My kids are here. We made the decision to stay here.
This article was originally published on Vogue.com.