The fashion magazine on the front line

Earlier this month, news that Edward Enninful would step down as editor-in-chief of British Vogue caused an uproar. Meanwhile, the communications team at Condé Nast (Vogue publisher) decided to hold off on announcing that Venya Brykalin had just been appointed to the same position at Vogue Ukraine. The country had just suffered a deadly air strike, so they thought it was a sign of respect to suspend press releases for a few days.

When I met Brykalin at an event in London last week, he was writing about a writer in Nova Kakhovka, a town that was flooded after the Kakhovka Dam collapsed. She had to edit at the last minute because her father’s house, with all its family items and memorabilia, had just been flooded.

Perhaps Vogue Ukraine’s biggest surprise is its very existence. At a time when the country is so embattled, it seems unreasonable that anyone would want or need a fashion magazine to read. Any editors how to try to browse such content? But Vogue Ukraine, founded in the shadow of the Maidan revolution in 2014 and published by independent Ukrainian media company Vanguard Media under license from Condé Nast, has never been a simple “glossy” magazine.

Its editors were stylish, warm and deeply patriotic: before the invasion, the team worked hard to educate readers — especially the magazine’s commercial sponsors — that Ukraine was very different from Russia. Since the invasion, they have been focused on warfare. Invasion begins at 4am on February 24, 2022, print edition temporarily on hold, but web editors continue work: first online article published at 9am that day, team now spread across Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe, continues Write down what happens every day. Beauty editor Alyona Ponomarenko focuses on stories of wartime psychological help and moral support. Brykalin said the team published stories about first aid, how to survive airstrikes and “the most recent floods”.

Meanwhile, the magazine has resumed production. The latest issue, “The Impenetrable Road”, This spring’s commemorative issue, centered on the “Heroes” project, features 50 individuals and groups who have contributed to the fight, including Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska, the country’s Intelligence Director Kyrylo Budanov, athletes, artists, writers, volunteers and, of course, fashion designers.

Vogue Ukraine 'The Road of the Unbreakable' Spring 2023 Cover

Vogue Ukraine ‘The Road of the Unbreakable’ Spring 2023 Cover

“During the war, there is no textbook that can teach you how to run a magazine, let alone a fashion magazine,” said Brykalin, who has worked at Vogue Ukraine since 2017. What kind of story do we want to tell. But we all agree that the issue must reflect what is happening in a respectful and hopeful way. Brykalin continues, whose cover is an abstract work by Vasylyna Vrublevska that resembles the Ukrainian flag and is the prelude to a series exploring “how our normal lives have been destroyed.” of. “

One issue of “The Unbreakable Road” sold out immediately; it was reprinted and distributed more widely as orders surged around the world. Despite a circulation of just 44,000 copies, the magazine has become a powerful messenger. As Brykalin puts it: “We are one of the few (if not the only) international brands that people know about from Ukraine. So a lot of readers abroad are always looking for our news because they trust us.”

Vogue has a history of wartime publishing.British Vogue continues unfolded throughout the blitz, its appearance alone became a symbol of patriotic, hard-tongued stoicism. Extending the advice to domestic campaigns such as making one’s fabric coupons go far, or how to cook with powdered eggs, its then-then intent — to foster hope, compassion and community spirit among readers — worked with the Ukrainian team The ambition is no different now.

Watching the evolution of Vogue Ukraine is also a study in the flexibility of the brand name.check magazine’s instagram feed Now, you’ll find profiles of military leaders along with photos from the Met Ball, street style and an article about the foundation saving orphans. It’s a strange but not uncomfortable mix of content, but one that reflects people wanting to take a break even in the most brutal of situations.

The future of Vogue Ukraine is far from certain. The magazine is as vulnerable to supply disruptions and mortar attacks as any other Ukrainian business. Currently, work continues. “People join Vogue Ukraine not because of the lifestyle, but because they are motivated to create something meaningful,” Brykalin said. In doing so, they pushed the Vogue name to its limits.

He also reminds us of a fundamental truth. We spend so much time researching fashion’s core values ​​and DNA that we forget that consumers often respond quite positively to things that offer assistance, humanity and hope.

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