A Diary from Lilia Litkovska on her recent trip to the Ukraine

Dear Shaded Viewers,

Before Christmas I met Lilia for a tea at a cafe close to my home. I wanted to know how she had the courage to go back to war torn Ukraine at such a dangerous time. We all see the news but few of us are privy to the real life experience of those that actually live it. I asked Lilia if she would make a diary of her experience so that I could post it and show it to you. Please take the time to read about her experience below to bring home what this courageous woman goes through to make her beautiful collection that you will be able to see in January.


“It is that feeling when I want to take my glasses off, but I don’t actually wear them, and everything is happening in the reality…

I visit Ukraine once or twice a month. We have a large production in Kyiv employing many people. During the war we even managed to expand it.

Dec. 19 Warsaw. Retro train to Kyiv with three bed-shelves above each other in each compartment like in an old movie. Suddenly, I see a familiar face who smiles at me.. This is the daughter of my friends.  She is going to visit him in Kyiv. Men are not allowed to leave Ukraine during the war…There are many children in the train carriage and together with them I wave to the people in the military uniform we see at each stop…

Dec. 20. Not much sleep in the train… my husband waits for me on the platform with flowers. Together we go straight to the production studio.

Minutes before that the generator was brought in to the production site. I come in and greet everyone:  “Slava Ukrayini! Everyone, come out, check out the gift from St. Nicholas!” Everyone ran outside to look at the generator and came back with wet faces from the tears. Now finally they could work during long and unpredictable power cuts… That’s how we met.

Then a lot of sweets… Well, this is our tradition.. Then problem solving till the late night.

10:30PM. I get home.  No electricity, no heating. But there is water. Cold, but still there is. It is so cold that I see our breathing in the light of candles…

Sometimes, I think it’s good we have a curfew. Otherwise, we won’t stop.

Dec 21.  7:00am. Morning! There is electricity! but no water this time, not even cold…breakfast and deep conversations…precious time with my husband Oleksandr. He printed a lot of photos of us and our daughter as gifts to our relatives and for Paris..air sirens

Work. Fittings and fittings and fittings…and more fittings. The fabric for new collection arrived just a week before the lookbook shooting. Never worked on the collection in such extreme conditions – so many cardinal decisions in the design within short time!  I am lucky to have the best team in the world – we cope with any difficulties.

2PM. Light switches off. The generator is connected but does not start. We talk to it, persuade to finally start working as if it is a human being… Precious minutes before the shooting… after 5 hours waiting we decide to leave. 5 hours with no electricity. Still so many things we manage to accomplish without it. That is why I love crafts. Hands and soul cannot be switched off as per schedule.

Evening – we drive through the city in complete darkness – street lights are off. I see people with flashlights on the streets and pedestrian crossings…I visit my uncle’s family in my native Bucha. Long conversations. In the next room lays our relative who’s legs were shot through by Russian soldiers in larch. Silence.. Memories of Russian occupation. We gave our uncle our wedding photos…

We drive back to Kyiv fast to make it there before the curfew. Sometimes, I hate curfew, I don’t want to stop. Kyiv… No electricity.

Dec 22. I announce a Christmas sale on insta: many friends..smiles, tears, hugs.. Fittings for the shoot!  Friends! Laughs, hugs… Fittings again.

My husband’s mother visited me at the work, her name is the same as my mom’s. That’s why I have two Liudmylas…hugs…air sirens

Jamala, our famous jazz singer. She sings with her soul and not with her voice..

Lyosha arrived with vinyl. I am collecting…

Electricity? Generator finally gave up. We are persuasive. Now the Russian air strikes on power stations  will not stop us

10:40 PM we are still at the studio. The final touches to the new season.

Curfew. Sometimes, we do need to stop.

Dec 23. Shooting day. 9AM. Team is gathered. Joy to see each other.  Big studio. 2 hours adjusting the light…All set. I don’t like it. Air sirens. Everything is rearranged within 15 minutes… great to work with real professionals! The new season is out! Well.. almost. Pre-collection is out! It is going to be released in January in Paris. The team is happy… I’m happy. Nothing can stop us.

Absence of electricity, fabrics delays…We did it!

Friend’s birthday. No time to change the outfit… But there is time for flowers and a candle…

House-museum.. a meeting with my daughter’s godmother, Stella. Her apartment is like a museum – great collection of prominent Ukrainian artists…

11PM we almost managed to enter home doors. Curfew… Did I tell you, I sometimes hate it?

I’m watching all vintage home items…The library… Everything I’ve collected around the world… everything that was so important…and now all the world and all importance is at the front line. Just, please, stay alive…We are here, running through bomb shelters, supporting lives and taking care of the children. Just, please, stay alive…

Dec. 24. Christmas eve celebration with my team. Gifts. Still, there is work to do. Worked a little more. Adjustments for new collection, line-up for Berlin Fashion Week…Christmas dinner with my team. Gifts to colleagues, gifts to friends, gifts to the Armed Forces… We are all at the table. Crying, laughing, memorising this year even though every cell of our body and soul will never forget it. Raising the glass to those relatives and friends who are now at the front line.. Tears..

9PM i am saying goodbye to everyone and taking taxi to home. 5 minutes to grab my suitcase and rush to the train station. Surprise waits for me near the car – design and sales teams came to say goodbye!,- very touching … Strong hugs and gratitude.

Gratitude for that we are still standing, for the fact that in the midst of everything we have the strength and faith to keep going. For that we still have the love to bake a cake and bring it to the table, to inspire and to live.”

With love,

Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.