Fashion design – On February 24, Irina Dzhus, founder of Ukrainian conceptual fashion brand DZHUS, and her team woke up with explosions all over the horizon as Russia started its attack against Ukraine. “I got petrified with terror. In 5 minutes, I was packing an emergency bag. We called our relatives to check if they were alive,” the designer told Archipanic. Together with her husband, business partner Anatolii Elgert – and their three cats – she was forced to spend four days in a basement, hiding from bombing, before they could finally take the risk to escape from the city of Vyshhorod near Kyiv.
“The first few days were the most horrific. I was so shocked that I could neither sleep nor eat or even breathe properly,” Irina shares. Then it took about 40 hours of an extremely tough journey to get to a safe place. The brand – and the cats – found their temporary refuge in Warsaw, Poland.
“It was only possible to bring as many outfits as would fit in one luggage piece, so the hard choice was made immediately – and a small Spring Summer 2022 drop was given a chance.” The designer created an ethical, cruelty-free fashion collection from the evacuated garments to donate 30-50% of sales profits to the Ukrainian army and animal shelters, especially now that many pets are abandoned. “The rest of the funds will be used to maintain the brand’s activity.”
Named Physique, the partly salvaged SS22 collection is characterised by dramatic, androgynous silhouettes crafted in materials such as ribbed wool and crumpled organza. “During this hardest time for all of Ukraine, it is crucial that the international cultural community consolidates in a mission to save the authentic heritage of this peaceful, independent country.” Explains the designer.
DZHUS gained recognition because of its multipurpose wardrobe items that transform radically, including modification of clothes into bags and headpieces. The avant-garde yet highly functional designs embody the brand’s vision of sustainable consumption without limitation of creativity.
Photos by Alexey Ponomarev. Video by Jorj Jorburj. Styling by Irina Dzhus / DZHUS Style Studio. The photos and the video were created with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation.