From Folk Wear to Fashion Week: Ukraine’s Vyshyvanka
The traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts called vyshyvanka, once relegated to souvenir shops and folk dance performances, made a huge comeback in 2015. The shirts date back at least a hundred years, when the embroidery on the vyshyvanka’s sleeves, front, neck and cuffs was different in each small region of Ukraine; different colors and varying motifs told a detailed story about the person wearing it.
Luba Rudenko, Director of MIR’s Ukraine affiliate office, was born and raised in Western Ukraine, where the Hutsul tradition of embroidering and wearing peasant shirts was particularly strong. Here’s her take on the sudden popularity of Ukrainian folk motifs.
“Nowadays very often, watching people dressed in Ukrainian clothing, I recollect my childhood, when in the 60s my grandmother wore her vyshyvankas in her everyday life. She had several for ordinary days and special Sunday ones for visiting the church, and the most beautiful ones for big religious holidays. She had not only vyshyvankas, but a lot of accessories that went with them. Even now in my mind I have a very clear picture of her dressed in a colorful and stylish national costume. As a child I admired the intricate patterns and colors, and felt some kind of message coming from them – on an intuitive level I felt them, but knew very little about them.
At that time, I thought everything related to the national Hutsul culture was old-fashioned and local, and did not have any idea of my own cultural heritage. Being a 100% Soviet era baby, I preferred everything that did not remind me of national/religious/old style fashion – as the Soviet propaganda presented it. Only now I realize how much we have lost not inheriting a single garment from my grandmother.”
“During recent years vyshyvanka has taken on a deeper meaning than just a fashion trend. It has become an essential part of the formation of a political nation. It’s brought to life everything national – traditions, customs and, of course, the fashion of wearing traditional clothes.”
You can experience the rich folk traditions of Ukraine on MIR’s small group tour, Belarus, Ukraine & Moldova, or on the private itinerary, Essential Ukraine. You can also create your own Ukrainian exploration with the help of our custom & private specialists.
Chat with one of our destination specialists by email or by phone at 1-800-424-7289 to start planning your 2016 travels now.
Top photo: Traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts called vyshyvanka, worn with hand-stitched vests at the egg-shaped Pysanka Museum in Kolomiya, Ukraine. Photo credit: Mariana Noble
PUBLISHED: January 20, 2016