DARIA SHAPOVALOVA doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a fashion journalist – in the space of just seven years, she’s managed to more than achieve that ambition. From her initial Ukrainian television programme, Fashion Week with Daria Shapovalova, to becoming the mind and driving force behind Mercedes Benz Kiev Fashion Days’ biannual showcase, Shapovalova is making sure that Kiev is becoming a part of the international fashion dialogue. And this weekend’s spring/summer 2014 edition of the event, its sixth season, was testament to that.
“I found that when I was travelling to all of the fashion weeks it was only the struggles in the Ukraine that were being reported on and I needed to change this,” explains Shapovalova of how it all started. So, aged 19, she began to make her fashion-week films with the aim of changing perceptions of Ukrainian fashion and promote and encourage a new generation of designers.
“If you’re not in London or Paris it can be very hard to build a platform. Kiev Fashion Days is part of those first steps to take designers abroad,” she says – though it’s something she has single-handedly been doing for some time now in a variety of capacities. Fellow fashion-media types will recognise her as one of the best-dressed interviewers of the front row (and will have no doubt have been quizzed by her at some point for her television show); street style fans will know her for being the perfect blog fodder (dressed in pretty pink Simone Rocha or Marni and Yves Saint Laurent accessories); and Ukrainian designers will know her for giving them her unwavering support. Each day of MBKFD, Shapovalova could be spotted dressed head-to-toe in one of the showcasing designers – out to spread her message, looking and dressing the part as queen bee of the emerging eastern European fashion scene she’s cultivating.
The international element is very important to her – not to mention the industry – and something she says sets the event apart from its Ukraine Fashion Week counterpart, which ran the week before. “We start our fashion week in London, working with Fashion Scout to provide a Kiev-to-London channel,” she explains of a collaboration that began at the beginning of this year and means that the designers get that international foot in the door early on.
What she’d most like, though, is to get a retailer along the lines of Topshop to come on board. This, she feels, would propel the event and its designers to the next level. “We won’t grow if it just stays here.”
But Shapovalova is nothing if not persuasive – master illustrator David Downton was enlisted to create this season’s campaign while guest designers to have presented at the event in the past have included Marios Schwab, Costume National and David Koma, with Felder Felder taking the spot this time round.
Simply, she sums it up as: “I’m trying to support Ukrainian designers.”
See which ones caught our eye during the week in our round-up gallery here.