KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Olha Potapenko, a bridal fashion designer living in the Kansas City area, is using her new collection, business platform and designs to advocate for those fighting Russian troops overseas in her homeland of Kansas City. ‘Ukraine.
“All Ukrainians who stay here safe – we feel the guilt and the pain of being here and we are safe while our friends and family die there,” Potapenko said. “My collection is my cry for help.”
Potapenko moved to the Kansas City area 4½ years ago to be closer to his in-laws. She still has many relatives living in Ukraine who are directly affected by the violence of the war.
“All the inhumane behavior that is happening in Ukraine is not just about Ukraine. It’s about humanity as a whole,” she said. “It is not good what is happening. Human life is above everything.
To numb the guilt, Potapenko turned to what she knows best. With pen and paper, she sketched out an entire collection of wedding dresses dedicated to her home country and its people.
Each dress represents a different story.
One dress has the words “Stop The War” stitched across the front with red roses embellishing the bottom of the train. She says the dress is dedicated to all the brides whose men will never come home, with the roses representing each ball taken.
“My message is to let people know that the threat that is currently in action in Ukraine is very real and what is happening there can also happen here,” Potapenko said.
Potapenko’s Ukrainian collection was featured in a fashion show in Kansas City.
She says she is grateful for the outpouring of support she felt from the audience, especially after a standing ovation following the presentation of the Ukrainian flag.
“I was praying that people who are in power and can make a difference in the world will see this and be moved — that they will take action and help,” Potapenko said.