Designer Maria Bekh presented what was felt three collections in one, so diverse in concept and execution were they. Titled “Escapism”, it offered a voyage through three moments in a woman’s life. The first part opened with a smartly tailored ensemble and was a play on shirting. Cuts are precise, and the fabric crisply pressed. As trousers give way to skirts, the second part segues into lady-like silhouettes and moves towards more fluid silks and shapes. Sheer fabrics play peekaboo. Finally the third set has the freedom of a nymph, using organic pleating and draping, culminating in a dress with a plastron of thick pleated ropes.
Despite an apparent disconnection, the collection was coherent in itself. A parallel can be drawn to a woman’s personal journey, from the identification process that crystalizes into a feminine identity, before her journey ends as she finds freedom and revels in her “inner goddess”. Supremely confident, this mirrors Bekh’s personal story.
A visit to her atelier, tucked away in a corner of an otherwise uninspiring mall, was the occasion to discover more about this promising young designer who admitted to a weakness for shopping at Merci. As a business school graduate, Bekh didn’t destine herself for fashion design. After completing her studies in Ukraine, and encouraged by her parents, she went on to explore further education in Europe with an eye to start a business in fashion. While in Paris pondering her next move she perceived a sign when Karl Lagerfeld walked into the café where she was having breakfast one morning. A full course at Instituto Marangoni followed, crowned by her winning a competition at the Galeries Lafayette by public vote.
When she returned to Kiev, her entourage encouraged her to pursue what now had crystalized into her professional destiny, a dream she had been harbouring since she was 15. “Bekh”, her eponymous brand, was born. Her reasonable price range (a cotton top will only set back about 100 euro) and high quality approach have already won her stockists in Ukraine but also Canada, and as of her recent showcase in Parisian tradeshows, more have shown interest. She sources materials internationally but has the garments produced locally in her atelier.
Wearing a pretty weaved Manoush skirt and one of her own tops, Bekh walked us through the collection again, explaining that she had been inspired by Breakfast at Tiffany’s, not in a litteral manner but rather, she said, in the way that the character uses clothes to define a “moment”, a mood. Whether it is a day in the highly structured architecture of the city, or an escape in lush nature, she wants her customer to also escape a label, symbolized on her jersey pieces by a cutout where it should have been. “You are meant to own your look, so you don’t need an obvious label,” she said in conclusion.
- Lily Templeton