Alyona Shuba is from Odesa, Ukraine; she is a fashion designer whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Paris last year during fashion week. At first glance, she lit up the room with her energy and contagious laughter, and with that, there was an instant friendship. That evening we bonded over music and fashion while drinking copious amounts of cocktails among the fashion elite; this was my first ever and only in-person encounter with this Ukrainian designer. Fast forward to today, any plans we previously had for me to visit her in Odesa and see her in her beautiful country quickly came to an abrupt halt on February 24th, 2022. Now Ukrainians and many others are now fighting, donating, and/or volunteering in our respective ways to support Ukraine in this war, and people have rallied together to find their own way to support those affected by this war.
Our team at The House Magazine had reached out to Shuba in December of 2021 for a feature, and it was only recently we finally reconnected with her during the chaos of the on-going war in Ukraine. Now we can finally tell her story that starts with her pre-war hopes and dreams for the future for her fashion line Vivons to the present day, where she is a female warrior and proud Ukrainian artist. Shuba feels she is one part of a great whole of a people that are resilient, strong, and full of hope, a people that are the living embodiments of the Glory of Ukraine. In this interview, we share multiple parts of Shuba’s story, discussing the future, her plans for Vivions, and her business. We also dive into her passionately sharing with us her present-day new mindset as she fights for her dreams and her own country in her own way.
Alyona established Vivons on December 13, 2019, and her logo says “From My Heart to Your Soul,” her logo is much like Shuba. She wears her heart on her sleeve. There is no doubt when you meet her, you immediately know she is a feminine force molded by the ending embers of a former soviet era and enriched wholely by the history and culture of her country Ukraine. She has never been a stranger to fashion from her long career as a model for a long time, as well as her love for fashion and everything connected with it since she was a child. In December 2019, she decided to combine her passion and interests, which was the start of Vivons.
Many things from all over the world inspire Shuba, and in her travels, her opportunity to learn about other cultures is a significant part of her design process. She is passionate about traveling and embracing the world with her arms wide open. During her travels, she recognizes trends or her ideas are formed by attending and watching shows and Premiere Vision, whose mission and motto is to “nourish, inspire, decipher trends for fashion professionals,” since 1973. Shuba is an artist. First and foremost, it shows in her work; you can see part of her own aesthetic and love for fashion in her designs. She believes “the heart of an artist will always find inspiration even in ordinary things! My latest collection was inspired by Paris! This is my favorite city, and every time I am there, I rediscover it.”
Despite the challenges and pain she experiences, this Ukrainian fashion designer remains motivated and is even more motivated to keep her business going as part of her relentless fight to show she will not fold as a Ukrainian. She works and constantly networks to find ways to support other small Ukrainian-owned businesses as she works for the collective to ensure Ukraine stands firm and remains united. For this upcoming collection of Fall 2022 and Spring 2023, she is creating a unique collection that is right now top secret and is hoping to find ways to expand to cities in the Middle East and eventually see her clothes worn by women worldwide in the near future. Shuba has a very creative mind, and she pushes the envelope in creating chic unique ready-to-wear pieces. She describes the Vivons woman as “a self-confident woman who is not afraid to be unique in everything she does in life… sexy, fearless and wild!” Her brand is her.
Today, you see Shuba on social media providing organizations, connecting people that can provide aid and help to families and soldiers on the ground. Her ambitions to build a successful business have never changed; her love for her mother country Ukraine is unwavering. However, the more vital force behind her desire is to honor and celebrate her country in all she does in her respective businesses, Vivons, her ready-to-wear, and her luxury swimwear line Leto. “I have been a volunteer since I was fourteen, and I continue to do everything in my power, and sometimes even more. I plea for others to support my country, my people, and our economy. There are millions of talented people in Ukraine, in every industry…our cultural heritage is incredible!” says Shuba.
The war has changed Shuba; she still dreams but fights for what she knows is right. “They (the Russian soldiers) kill, bully, execute and rape women, children, and men. I was born and raised in Odesa. Odesa is a wonderful and incredibly hospitable city. Here, everyone spoke and speaks Russian. Now, we are trying to speak only Ukrainian in order to express our civil position.”
In some historical context, these two countries have a tangled and very old history between two regions and one in particular, and they are both parts of the Slavic language family. Russian false claims saying they are one is false, as Ukraine has always had its own nationalist spirit, and throughout history, you can read about how they clung to their language and culture plus country. Russian propaganda and the manipulation of Putin have bred hate among Russians toward Ukraine and its people. Shuba recalls the recent horrors of Mariupol and exclaims, “ Look at Mariupol. It is hell. The majority of Mariupol residents are Russian-speaking. There has never been a case in Ukraine where someone tried to humiliate or insult those who do not speak Ukrainian.” Mariupol is now a place that has experienced an extreme loss of life, and total destruction
Now, Shuba and her Ukrainian companions are all fighting for their country, their lives, and their right to be Ukrainians. “Every Ukrainian wants to live on their land and country, which rightfully belongs to us. We beg for help every day. We pray every day. Our bedtime prayers are now that every soldier who is defending our country will return home alive. From the first days of the war, we have been helping each other. We raise money, cook, clothe and save others the best we can. Our unity and strength of our Ukrainian spirit are unmatched and unwavering.”
Shuba uses her platform and all her international contacts to remind and encourage people to buy Ukrainian goods, music, and art. “We will defiantly rebuild our country. Ukrainians are incredibly hospitable people, and look forward to the day when we will invite all those who have helped and supported us… to see our country and see the Glory to Ukraine in the future,” she confidently states.
Shuba named her company Vivons, and in French, means ‘let’s live,’ for her, she shares, “This is my credo. Everything can be possible with this desire.” The meaning of the name of her the company she owns, designs, and meticulously cares for, from concept, design, and manufacturing to marketing, is the exact sentiments of what she does now. This Ukrainian designer now designs not just for herself or clients but also takes what she earns to give back to help her own country, along with volunteering her time and energy towards humanitarian aid and needs to those who need it most in her homeland. Alyona Shuba is one of many that stands firm and is part of the movement and destiny that applies to all Ukrainians. They have and are bringing “Glory to Ukraine,” and Shuba does it by living the Vivons way.
Poem Written by Alyona Shuba: I Am Ukraine
Я – це Україна,
Я – це мова рідна,
Я – це річки та калина,
Я – це кров українська у моїх жилах
Я – це моя найкраща країна.
Я Буду нести це через все життя,
Ніколи не забуваючи.
Та всім світом мандрувати, Україну прославляючи.
I am Ukraine,
I am a native language,
I am rivers and trees,
I am Ukrainian blood in my veins
I am the best of my country
I will carry it through my life, Never forgetting.
And I will travel around the world, glorifying Ukraine.
To keep up with Ukrainian Fashion Designer Alyona Shuba’sbe sure to follow her on Instagram at @alyonashuba and @vivonsofficiel and you can see her designs in-person for Paris Fashion Week for a showrooom event: Sept 26, 2022 located at 20 Rue Pierre Lescot, 75002 Paris/ 17:00-19:00.