Three million people have fled Ukraine since Putin started the war. And one of them is katherine lanheor Katyas everyone calls her in the box on the first floor of the Convent dels Àngels where this Thursday, at noon, she placed the dresses, coats and shirts next to the photos of the models who would wear them two hours later, during the recording of the ‘fashion film’ with which he will make his debut at the beginning of April -from the 5th to the 8th- at the 29th edition of the 080 Barcelona Fashion Week (the fourth already in digital format, and this time at Macba). Kati was a bundle of nerves, anguish and emotion. The state in which she lives since on February 24 her entire house shook with the first Russian bombing of her hometown, Vinnitsa. There he finished the ‘Zemlia’ (‘Earth’) collection with which it will be presented for the first time on the fashion catwalk in the Catalan capital. But she could only get a few things in a suitcase. In the car in which she fled four days later from her country, some friends were also there. What I put on, a lot of fear and little else.
“We were lucky. We went through the Carpathians, through the Romanian border,” explains the designer at the head of the firm KM by Langeborn in 2018, and halfway between Barcelona and kyiv. In the first city is where she lives with her partner and her three-year-old daughter, both Catalans, and where she designs the clothes of a woman “very sure of herself, free, with values. And not only about sustainability, which is a word that is on everyone’s lips, but values of nobility and responsibility”, says Kati, who highlights her side feminist: “We only do collaborations with women”.
Seamstresses over 60 years old
And it is that in the Ukraine’s capital is where Kati has almost all of its workshopswhere employs “excellent seamstresses over 60 years of age”. Authentic experts in traditional patterns and embroidery that shape KM by Lange garments, where the tailor shop (coats -his fetish garment-, coats, jackets, dresses, wide pants…) with pure lines and hardly any adornments manage to give the noble and natural fabrics, in white, black and neutral colors, a timelessness “so that they can pass from generation to generation”.
Although Kati arrived in Madrid 20 years ago with a scholarship to finish her law studies at the Autonomous University, she later continued with design, photography and marketing, and moved to Barcelona, where she found work and love. “I did not study fashion, but in Ukraine, women like my mother did not go out to buy clothes, they were made with friends at home. And that’s how I learned, that I always liked fashion, “she says. “I ended up in fashion stores, but I wanted my own personal project, “she says.
“We are back 50 years ago”
And so he launched KM by Lange, where in addition to clothing, he designs jewellery, baskets, bags… and gives work to the women of his country, “because companies do not usually hire them for fear of getting pregnant,” she laments. The business has grown quite a bit in recent years, especially in central and northern Europe but also in the US, Canada and Saudi Arabia. That’s why she traveled a lot lately Ukraine, the country of blue sky and yellow grain fields. “Five years ago the country was flourishing -he explains holding back tears-, with many opportunities for everyone, and if you had an entrepreneurial profile you had a very good life. It’s a shame that they have destroyed all that and we have gone back like 40 or 50 years ago”.
Not only its seamstresses have remained in Ukraine, but also her grandmother, aged 93, with reduced mobility, and her mother, who takes care of her. “Also my twin brother, who is in territorial defense, supporting the Army: he transports the evacuated people, he brings humanitarian aid… I just spoke with him today, he is in kyiv now,” he sighs.
Tribute and help
“My ‘fashion film’ will be a very powerful nod to everything that is happening. It is a multidisciplinary project, with other artists, such as a potter and a violinist. We will start with a Ukrainian poem, before showing each garment, dedicated to a region of my country. The parade will be opened by a Ukrainian model, Sammyand will be closed by another, which is an international ‘top’, tanya ruben, with your daughter. She is from Chernigov, a very affected city, but we managed to get a truck with humanitarian aid there,” she says proudly.
“My future is this now, to use fashion as a weapon to help my country. Spreading what is happening with this parade in the 080 and raising money to send there, “he says. In his workshops in Kyiv and Vinnitsa now they are using all the dark, green, olive, beige and brown fabrics to make camouflage nets. And he has added other small workshops with other seamstresses in the country who have not been able to go out to sewing bulletproof vests, which “are much needed”. Also bags to carry war material. All this is being financed with the sale of a solidarity t-shirt through its Web (which has the motto ‘Russian navy ship, go to hell!’) and also collects humanitarian aid.
“My hope is that the war will end soon, because I don’t want to see those images anymore,” he laments.
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