Interview with Ukrainian designer Jean Gritsfeldt

The Jean Gritsfeldt brand is one of the best known and fastest growing fashion brands in Ukraine. In mid-March, the designer of the same name sent a clear signal against the war at the fashion week in Berlin by staging current designs, even he was not allowed to come. STYLEBOOK spoke with Gritsfeldt, who lives in Kiev, about fashion and culture in wartime, and what he wants for his country and the future.

Already as a child, Jean Gritsfeldt dreamed of designing beautiful clothes, and he presented his first collection while studying at the University of Technology and Design. The collection, which was shown at Berlin Fashion Week in March, was created before the war, which is currently shaking his homeland. The show concept had to be adjusted at the last minute: howling sirens, models covered in blood and a Ukrainian flag stretched across the catwalk – that was the symbolism of the Ukrainian designer’s show. “No one cares what you wear,” the 32-year-old fashion designer told the audience via video link.

STYLEBOOK reached Jean Gritsfeldt by phone in Kiev. During the attacks on his city, he was at home with his mother to support her. “Your house is in a hot spot near Zhulyany Airport. We saw grenades being thrown into the houses and constantly heard the noise of the sirens. In early April, I moved into the apartment I had rented just before the war. “It is located in Podol, the cultural center of Kyiv. I would like to see how people live there and how their everyday lives are.”

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STYLE BOOK: What does the war do to you and your work?

Jean Gritsfeldt: “Not so long ago, it was impossible to believe what was happening now. I could only at the last minute imagine that this would actually happen. Now I try to keep a living spark, an inner child inside me. The area where I work has come to a complete standstill in Ukraine. But our weapons are art that we can change the world for the better with. That is our mission. Even during the war, we managed to establish an amazing project that touched so many people around the world. An achievement that spreads our DNA and our words far beyond national borders. ”

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Do you feel safe?

“I always thought it was safe where I am. Since the Corona pandemic, I have constantly asked myself why I am here and what my job is. Why does everything in life happen the way it does? I did it meditatively. It gives me insight to rise above the situation and look at things globally, because I can clearly sense a change in the world. ”

How are you currently working?

“The world is changing, the old laws are being abolished. To build something new, as much as it hurts me, one has to tear down the old. I believe that this destruction will bring us something better in the near future. Perhaps something that humanity has begun to forget lately, focusing on the material, on the secondary, on servicing their egocentricity rather than the human. I’m trying to keep going, even though all past processes and my connections to celebrities I used to work with are taking a break right now. It is impossible to say how the fashion market will develop, but it will certainly change a lot. After the project in Berlin, we are definitely aiming for international attention. ”

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What is behind your brand?

“We are about the twinkle in the eye of the viewer and being able to wear more than clothes. Most of my clients came from Europe, America and Asia, maybe because people there are a little freer and more confident. It was also about the collection in Berlin – it was about freedom and acceptance. It was not about clothes, it was not about trends, it was about a state of mind that people have and that they then supplemented with clothes. Despite all the pain, grief, tears and despair, even the hopelessness and inability to stop what lies ahead, I still see great opportunities. It’s a time when anything can happen. “

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what are your plans for the future?

“My team and I have decided to be strong and continue to do what we can and talk loudly about everything that is happening here. And I truly believe that we have the power, we have shown everyone what we are capable of. I think we have already won, we just need more time to make it a reality. And of course, we also need support. In the near future, we are planning a number of other projects, in addition to fashion, DJ. We are preparing the release of my solo album, a new collection is planned. Part of the turnover should flow into cultural funds. ”

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