From Using Fashion as a Platform for Social Change to Founding the Clothing Store Terrasse: Meet Ukrainian Designer Viktoriia Vlasenko
Fashion is so much more than the clothing items we use to cover our bodies with in order to leave the house. The garments we choose as individuals give outsiders a look into our personality and provide insight into our unique interests. In addition to reflecting current trends, modern fashion can also be used as a platform for social change, something designer Viktoriia Vlasenko knows all about.
Hailing from Ukraine, Viktoriia’s passion for fashion design was evident early on in childhood, and she’s continued to devote herself to her artistry as a designer ever since. Fearlessly pursuing her goal of becoming a world-class designer, Viktoriia went on to hone her skill at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Milan, Italy, one of the top fashion design schools in the world, where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Costume Design and Visual Art, as well as a Fashion Design and Merchandising degree.
Out of the 100 people who were chosen to study at the prestigious and extremely competitive institute in Milan, only six of the students had the skills needed to receive their diploma; one of which being Viktoriia Vlasenko. Whilst living in Milan, arguably the fashion capital of the world, Viktoriia designed collections and pieces for countless shows including Political Abuse of Psychiatry in the Soviet Union, the mens and womenswear print project L’Homme Qui Rit, and the Hiroshima Project. In 2015 New Talents Vogue Milan Fashion Show, a major platform for young designers where only the best of the best are chosen to showcase their designs. Her designs have also been showcased at Ukraine Fashion Week, a high point for any designer, as well as at the Swiss Textiles Awards.
What separates Viktoriia from the pool of today’s fashion designers is the breadth of garments and styles she designs. She has used fashion as a platform for activism in order to spread the word about social issues.
She explains, “I like to develop social projects in order to draw attention to problems within society, and for this, I use fashion.”
With the war in Ukraine, which began in 2014, being one issue that was very close to her heart, Viktoriia went to great lengths to use her creative gifts as a designer to inform the public about it — and for many, her No War Project may very well have been their sole informer on the subject.
“I wished to draw the public in Italy’s attention to the war in Ukraine, the war had only just began at that time and few in Europe knew that the war was happening,” Viktoriia recalls. “For this reason, I produced a brief film, made the No War collection, wrote a book about it and published it. I was one of the first sources about the war in Ukraine in Milan, and I also took part in many demonstrations at that time.”
Upon seeing her designs for the No War Project, a collection of edgy and avant-garde pieces, viewers might assume that her style is characterized by an amalgamation of steampunk, futurism and gothic elements. Though the collection brought Viktorria international attention through the top-selling No War Project book featuring her designs, her vision as a designer extends far beyond social activism. In fact, she has proven herself to be quite skilled at designing evening and everyday wear, and it’s that diversity that has equated to her success.
Viktoriia founded the Ukrainian fashion label Terrasse a little over two years ago. Today, she owns six stores across Ukraine, all carrying her designs. With the knowledge that making it as a successful fashion designer and business owner means developing collections that are not only unique and visually appealing, but ones that fit into the market in which you are selling, Viktorria has managed to make Terrasse into a flocked to clothing store for Ukrainian women who are interested in casual elegance, as well as sleek everyday work attire.
From her casual daywear to her more upscale designs, Viktoriia is passionate about the craftsmanship that goes into every piece. While many fashion designers may focus on just one skill, she is hands-on throughout the whole creative process, another area of her expertise that sets her apart from her competitors.
“I am involved in every stage, from creating the image on paper to making the patterns and sewing the piece,” Viktoriia explains. “I have the profound ability to follow and understand trends, as well as the knowledge of silhouettes, fabrication and sewing machines.”
While Viktoriia continues to design all of the clothing for Terrasse, she is also busy designing new collections for fashion shows, as well as for film and television projects such as the upcoming Ukrainian film “Unworld.”
Needless to say, she does need some help from time to time with running Terrasse, and for that, she keeps it in the family. She credits her mother for helping her with her ever-expanding business.
“My mother helps me with business, especially when I’m absent,” she explains. “But I spend half of my time for the brand and another half of my time is spent as a costume designer for celebrities, for theatres and films.”
Her most recent work can be seen at the NEW Fashion Zone exhibition where she is due to present in Canada in the new year.