Inside the fashion world’s show of support for Ukraine – donations and outfits to tributes

Over the past few weeks, we’ve watched designers such as Balenciaga, Dior and Gucci display their latest collections on runways around the world.

And while Fashion Weeks are usually all about who is on the FROW, champagne-fuelled parties and which designer pulls off the most outrageous looks, this year's shows have sometimes been a more sombre affair.

The annual events have been – rightly – overshadowed by news coming from Ukraine, where Russian's invasion remains ongoing.

Having been in the diary for months, the Fashion Weeks have taken place as planned, but plenty of the world's top designers and A-list celebrities have taken the chance to show their support for Ukraine.

Not only have fashion houses showcased touching tributes through the clothing and set design, but models including Mica Argañaraz, Gigi Hadid and her sister Bella have pledged to donate part or all of their earnings towards Ukrainian organisations.

Mica was the first to start the charitable movement, encouraging her colleagues to do the same in a message shared to her Instagram Stories.

She wrote: “I have to say it feels very weird walking fashion shows knowing there’s a war happening in the same continent. I will be donating part of my earnings of this fashion week to help Ukrainian organizations.

“To my model friends and colleagues and whoever is also struggling with this feeling, perhaps this is something we could all contribute to.”

Inspired by her initiative, Gigi announced in an Instagram post that she’s also donating her “earnings from the Fall 2022 shows to aid those suffering from the war in Ukraine, as well as continuing to support those experiencing the same in Palestine.”

She added: “Having a set Fashion Month schedule has meant that my colleagues and I often present new fashion collections during heartbreaking and traumatic times in history. We don’t have control over most of our work schedules, but we would like to walk ‘for’ something.”

Gigi’s sister Bella re-shared Mica's post to her Instagram Stories, telling fans: “It’s incredibly odd to be walking in fashion shows as our work, especially during a time like this.”

“I compel the people of our industry to do their research and have open conversations about the hell that is happening next door,” she continues, whilst urging her followers to “ask your Ukrainian and Russian friends if they are okay”.

But it’s not just models who have stepped up in support of Ukraine. The Balenciaga show at Paris Fashion Week served as a tribute to the unfolding conflict in the country.

The brand’s creative director Demna Gvasalia, who is a refugee himself, labelled his show as a "dedication to fearlessness, to resistance, and to the victory of love and peace".

Whilst Kim Kardashian showing up in a skintight bodysuit wrapped in designer tape would usually steal the show, all eyes were on the runway, as models were seen storming through fake snow, wind and lightning – carrying their possessions in sacks.

The new collection included knee-high stiletto boots, bold printed catsuits and futuristic accessories, but clothing aside, the message of the show was very clear. It was to pay homage to the more than 1 million Ukrainians forced to flee their home in recent weeks.

Commenting on the show, Demna wrote on Instagram: “The war in Ukraine has triggered the pain of a past trauma I have carried in me since 1993, when the same thing happened in my home country and I became a forever refugee.

"Forever, because that's something that stays in you. The fear, the desperation, the realization that no one wants you. But I also realized what really matters in life, the most important things, like life itself and human love and compassion."

"This is why working on this show this week was so incredibly hard for me. Because in a time like this, fashion loses its relevance and its actual right to exist. Fashion week feels like some kind of an absurdity,” he continued.

“I thought for a moment about cancelling the show that I and my team worked hard on and were all looking forward to. But then I realized that cancelling this show would mean giving in, surrendering to the evil that has already hurt me so much for almost 30 years. I decided that I can no longer sacrifice parts of me to that senseless, heartless war of ego.”

"This show needs no explanation. It is a dedication to fearlessness, to resistance, and to the victory of love and peace," he concluded.

Prior to the show, Balenciaga wiped its Instagram feed completely, leaving just the image of the Ukrainian flag, whilst the guests of the show were gifted oversized Ukrainian flag t-shirts.

Actress Salma Hayek also made her own powerful statement at the show as she sported the colours of the flag whilst posing for a snap with Kim on Instagram.

Sharing a snap of her yellow and blue dress, she captioned the post: '@balenciaga #pfw', while inserting emojis of the Ukrainian flag and a dove.

High-street brands have also shown their support. According to a report by The Mirror, dozens of major companies such as H&M, Marks & Spencer and John Lewis have cut ties with Russia as an act of solidarity against the war on Ukraine.

ASOS has also joined in with ceasing operations in Russia. A spokesperson for the brand has said: “Against the backdrop of the continuing war, ASOS has decided that it is neither practical nor right to continue to trade in Russia,"

“Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and all those affected in the region.”

For information on how to support people affected by the Ukraine crisis, click here.

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