Pysanky and Fashion


In December of 2008, the fashion website “Trend de la Créme” published an article entitled “Pysanka by Gucci,” with the following text:

While Gucci's fall '08 collection may have conjured up visions of a hippy-chic revival, the combination of folk textiles, detailed handwork, and "Babushka" tapestries brought to mind Pysanka -- traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs decorated using a wax-resist 'batik' method. The Hutsuls (Ukrainians who live in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine) believe that the fate of the world depends upon the Pysanka. As long as the egg decorating custom continues, the world (and those in it) will exist. A fitting comparison when you consider the number of people who believe that, as long as Gucci continues producing new collections, the world of fashion stands a fighting chance. (Although, one would be hard pressed to place the fate of an entire industry in the hands of a label with a name that rhymes with "coochie.")

Someone had taken photos of the new Gucci collection, and found pysanky on line with similar design motifs.  They put them together, resulting in the picture at the top of this page and these:

This became an internet and e-mail sensation, at least among the Ukrainian community.  I received numerous e-mails containing these photos, and links were posted to several Yahoo groups that I belong to.

The pysanky in these photos have various provenances, and were not all taken from the same source.  One or two appear to be UGS designs, although done by other pysankary.  Others appear to be classic diasporan style pysanky.  But two of the pysanky are definitely the work of Oleh Kirashchuk, taken from his web site. (The first and fifth ones in the photos directly above, and containing his pathognomonic deer.)

This pysanka/Gucci connection also caught the attention of someone at TSN (a Ukrainian television news program on the 1 + 1 network), who sent a reporter out to interview Oleh.  The interview can be found at this link.

As for me, I feel that, while there is a vague resemblance between some of the eggs and some of the designs, it’s not so strong or so obvious that it would lead me to believe that the Gucci actually copied the designs from pysanky.  But, who knows?

Now, this dress was quite obviously influenced by pysanky:

The photos of the scarves below were sent to me by a friend who thought their designs resembled those of pysanky. The first one I have my doubts about, although the poppies and wheat are very diasporan  Ukrainian motifs.

This second scarf is a more likely candidate.  The bands on the scarf are a bit pysanka-esque, albeit not traditional classical pysanka motifs.  The poppies resemble those found frequently on diasporan pysanky.

Lastly, for more of an anti-fashion statement, check out the shirt on the man in this video.

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