Yulia Fashion House Raises Awareness For Ukrainian War

Designer Yulia Boozer of Yulia Fashion House brings recognition to Ukrainian culture and raises awareness for those effected by the war.

The Effects of the Ukranian War

Yulia Fashion House Designs

Photo by Weston Mosburg.

When the war started in Ukraine in February 2022, Boozer and her friend Olga Funk quickly acted. They started planning their first fundraiser in March while getting connected with foster homes in Ukraine. Their foundation Nova Spark was officially founded in April 2022 and their first fundraiser was only two months later in July. 

“My friends told me I was crazy because typically people plan fundraisers at least six months ahead, but we didn’t have time to wait,” Boozer said.

Boozer was shocked to see her home country destroyed by the effects of war. “I thought of the kids first because they’re the most vulnerable,” She said. She imagined ending up in an orphanage or the foster system was hard enough, but living through the war without parents must be another level of devastation. Boozer has an 11-year-old son and wasn’t sure how she would explain these scary circumstances. 

Her team utilized their connections with several nonprofit organizations already working in orphanages. Through these nonprofits, they were then able to start finding out what resources were most needed. 

Small orphanages in Ukraine are more similar to foster care in the United States and typically house 10-15 kids at a time. These types of orphanages don’t have government support so essentials like clothing and medicine become dire during war. Nova Spark works with these orphanages directly to ensure they are getting exactly what they need and using most of their financial resources. Outside of clothes, Boozer and her team have also donated generators, water heating systems, laptops, and phones.

“Any profit we make at Yulia House goes to supplies first and then everything else goes back towards Nova Spark,” Boozer said.  

The nonprofit holds fun events, like Yulia House’s fashion shows, where guests can learn about their mission and see the impact of these events through pictures of the kids with donated resources.

 “These kids deserve a chance, She said. “Many of them are talented and just need a way to pursue their dreams.” 

Throughout each fundraiser fashion show Boozer has hosted, she’s loved connecting with other creatives while sharing her culture through fashion. 

“Beauty isn’t really beautiful if you only do it for money,” Boozer said. 

Boozer’s last fundraiser fashion show was in October in Colorado Springs. In addition to a fashion show, they featured a classical music concert. She also chose to work with Ukrainian musicians who performed music related to her home country. 

A Family Affair

Yulia Fashion House Designs

Photo by Weston Mosburg.

Boozer’s mother, Svitlana Horodna, also came to Colorado three weeks before the show and stayed with her daughter to help finish her collection. Boozer said her mother worked in the basement all day and every day. 

She said creating each garment is therapeutic for her, but having a family and a full-time job as a programmer — it’s hard for her to find time for sewing sessions.

Boozer also mentioned that her husband assisted her during this stressful time by making dinners for the family and taking care of their son. 

“The support of my family means everything to me,” Boozer said. “The last three weeks before the show were nonstop work and it was a mad dash to get everything ready.” 

Now retired, Horodna helps with almost every aspect of the design process. “Having my mom here was an enormous and irreplaceable help because there’s no way I could do it all,” Boozer said. Her mom also makes all of the handbags featured in her collections.

Boozer explained how Horodna always wanted to indulge in creative affairs but never had the opportunity.

“It’s exciting to watch her live out her dream,” Boozer said. “She made clothing for my sister and me growing up, but they were more utilitarian and didn’t have pretty bows or frills. We would even sew clothing for my dolls, but we never thought it would turn into anything more.”

Yulia Fashion House Designs

Photo by Weston Mosburg.

The designer explained she’s always been close to her parents, especially her mom who taught her how to sew, “The reason I’m here today is because of my parents.” Boozer’s parents now live in Austin, Texas which led Boozer to participate in Austin Fashion Week 2023. 

With support from her family, Boozer continues to push Ukranian fashion through each design. She uses flowers from Ukraine along with traditional colors and accessories. Boozer incorporates Ukrainian aspects like sunflowers and poppy flowers into her silk dresses and big crowns to cultivate a modern and glamorous ensemble. She utilizes customary colors in Ukrainian embroideries, like black and red, in combination with yellows, golds, or browns.  

Outside of being a part of her culture, Boozer also adds flowers to her designs to enhance the femininity, elegance and sophistication of her pieces. The designer uses fabric from Ukraine whenever possible to bring more authentic elements to her brand. She explained that the choice of large jewelry is complementary to the large silk prints. All the jewelry is made with either the same fabric as the dresses or the same colors. 

Yulia Fashion House Collaborations

Yulia Fashion House Designs

Photo by Weston Mosburg.

Radmila Husnetdinova, owner of jewelry brand, MH Soutache curates all of the jewelry for Yulia Fashion House. Radmila and Boozer worked together from the beginning sketches of an idea, all the way to its execution on the runway. Yulia met Husnetdinova through a mutual friend and she became part of Yulia’s house for the brand’s debut collection. She makes jewelry specifically for each outfit from a method used in Uzbekistan. Husnetdinova uses soutache (soo-tash), a cord made out of viscose or rayon to make her jewelry.

In addition to pieces matching the colors of each dress, Husnetdinova adds symbolic meaning to many of her pieces. One necklace from a previous collection resembles a big, red teardrop shape, which is intended to represent the bloodshed from the war in Ukraine. 

Another great addition to Yulia Fashion House is Ukrainian painter, Olga Ottenheijm, who makes all of the paintings used for the silk prints. Ottenhijm made collages for each outfit from her paintings, then printed on satin and sewn together to complete Boozer’s vision.

Each dress has a simple, flowy silhouette to enhance all the elements of Ottenheim’s art, rather than making intricate designs with cutouts, texture, or layers. Necklines, straps and styling help curate Yulia’s delicate yet empowering look. The flowing satin dresses are lightweight and versatile. Some dresses are even capable of fitting a range of sizes. Boozer describes their collaboration as, “true wearable art for everyone with flattering, feminine styles.” 

Another important portion of Yulia Boozer’s Fashion House is the beautifully crafted headpieces, otherwise known as Vinok’s. Historically, they were worn as a headdress by young women who are eligible for marriage. The tradition dates back to pre-Christian times and is believed to protect young women from evil. The crowns for Yulia Fashion House are made by Alexander Pringle — a 3D fashion artist.

Some of Yulia’s silk prints also include line drawings by Ukrainian artist Victoria Strazheva. 

Boozer asked her to create line drawings of a female face’s silhouette. “While it’s not quite finished, it’s understood and elegant,” Boozer described. 

The 24-year-old artist lost her brother, who was serving as a soldier in the war, as well as the painting studio she opened for children. Strazheva was drawing for Yulia House in the basement of a bunker during these devastating circumstances.

All the artists were eager to donate their time to a noble and fashionable cause. “Whenever I meet somebody complementary to our mission — it immediately clicks that they should be part of the team,” Boozer said. 

Boozer and her team work hard to create fully-thought-out attire, from start to finish. Boozer explained that each creative part of Yulia Fashion House is happy to donate their time and resources to the children. “We feel all children deserve not only to survive but thrive,” She said.

What’s Next for Yulia Fashion House?

Photo by Scott Norby.

She explained that she wanted to bring attention to Ukraine because of the war and share her country’s rich culture and traditions with the world. Boozer hopes to do a winter collection in the future with Ukrainian textiles, different furs and layered jewelry. She said she’s excited to keep pushing the envelope while mixing everyday attire with runway pieces.

“Every time I think I’ll only do one more show,” She said. “[But] I’ve met so many people and our brand just keeps growing — I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen next.” 

Boozer hopes to do another fundraiser fashion show this year, but now knows it’s a lot of work to create a collection and plan an event at the same time. 

She was excited when DFW runway producer, Nikki Strickler, reached out to her about participating in Denver Fashion Week’s Emerging Designer Challenge. 

READ: DFW’s Emerging Designer Challenge Dazzles at The Arch

“At first, participating in a DFW event sounded too scary. I’ve attended Denver Fashion Week shows before, but never thought I could participate,” Boozer said. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to showcase our designs and fulfill the mission of sharing Ukrainian traditions, culture, and background.”