The Ukrainian designer presents at New York Fashion Week


Fashion designer Valery Kovalska does not miss it at all.

She’s using what used to be a restaurant space as a live studio now.

“I have to fight,” Kovalska said.

She fled the war in Ukraine with mannequins and lots of fabric. She started in Los Angeles in February, but then moved to New York in May. The aftermath of the war now forces her, she said, to essentially start her business from scratch.


What you need to know

  • Valery Kovalska fled the war in Ukraine in February and headed to Los Angeles before arriving in New York in May.
  • Kovalska has a team of 25 employees in Kiev, Ukraine
  • A recent concern is the potential loss of electricity at its plant in Ukraine due to the status of the nuclear plant
  • Kovalska was presented at the Kyiv Art and Fashion Days in New York

“Not because you failed, or you know you made a bad business decision, just because somebody decided to destroy the place,” Kovalska said.

With the help of online files and friends who helped her bring some materials, she is on her own in New York City.

“It’s been half a year since I’ve seen my mom, none of my close friends,” Kovalska said.

Despite her struggles, her smile lights up the room when she talks about her 25 employees who work at her limited-capacity factory in Ukraine. She is diligent to keep the business going so she can continue to pay her staff.

“I still need to be more optimistic and inspirational for my team,” Kovalska said.

The Associated Press reports that the large nuclear plant is unstable but still provides power to Ukraine, meaning Kovalska workers can continue to work. Kovalska says she provides water, batteries and much-needed medication to her employees.

“You never know what can happen,” Kovalska said.

Through fierce determination, she says she’s making her mark on New York City. When NY1 was there, she was on her way to present her work at New York Fashion Week, showing solidarity with her country.

Her experience of bringing her life’s work to America has influenced the way she makes clothes.

“How [are] people will travel with it? Is it heavy? I have become more practical”, said Kovalska.

Seeing the work of others she admires in the city fuels her optimism for the future.

“I look at this and I have such a good feeling,” Kovalska said.



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