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Ukrainian designer Irina Dzhus’ collection rescued during her escape

After the war started, Irina Dzhus left her tormented fate behind and fled to Warsaw. Besides her three cats, she packed a suitcase with the latest collection of her avant-garde fashion label DZHUS. Her husband and business partner stayed on the other side of the border. Irina is now trying to use the rescued items to help her country.

“It’s been a month now that I’m in Poland, but I’m still not feeling safe, let alone optimistic,” she shared.

Irina outside the iconic modernist Salute hotel in Kyiv, 2021.

“There’s a military training basis right under my window in Warsaw, and they’re intensifying live-fire exercises every day. NATO soldiers are roaming all over the capital, making me trembly and dizzy, and then I realize that these intensive precautions are being taken for a reason. I feel useless and desperate, as my escape obviously didn’t end the war. While many others are constantly posting shocking evidence, the only thing I can do for my country, and not to lose myself completely in the flood of horrors, is to provide financial help,” she told us. “On the other hand, I’m extremely fortunate to have escaped the daily reality of war, and I must appreciate this gift. To underestimate this chance to move on would be disrespectful to the people, who never had this choice and died of torture, hunger and disease in the occupied cities. I know that my duty now is to keep my sanity, and continue to run the brand, taking every opportunity that comes. We are currently focusing on working with the press to highlight the reality of the situation as much as possible, as well as selling the evacuated items and collecting donations from the profits. We are also exploring the local industry as we plan to restart production in Poland,” she added.

The conceptual fashion and accessory brand is famous for its innovative tailoring and multifunctionality. A sad, yet touching coincidence is that the current Physique collection was created with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation, and now Irina is returning donations from the income to the country. The dramatic, androgynous silhouettes are all transformable in their forms and some in their functions, as well; collars might be transformed into hats, bags into skirts, making the collection unique, varied and resilient. This is a perfect reflection of the brand’s ambitions—conscious consumption combined with unlimited creativity. 

The ethical use of materials is playful and sensitive, including mostly double-sided cotton fabrics, shiny silk, ribbed wool and crumpled organza. True to the brand, the color palette is minimalist: limited to black, white and beige, to distract as little as possible from the silhouettes. The collection is both an irony of stereotypes about the human body and an overly optimistic trend; it is composed of grotesque proportions and symbolically sexualized details. While the collars and pockets are designed to evoke the shape of the breasts, the pleated hoods refer to the obsession with mass culture. And in light of the current situation, there is also a sense of apocalypticism in the mood of the collection.

Besides the webshop, the brand’s pieces will be on display in Paris from 10-13 April at the Ukrainian designer’s charity pop-up shop.

Photo: Iryna Kalamurza

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