Flowers for dear Tetyana-Ivanna
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 Ivanna Company has been designing and making dresses since 1993. 
Ivanna dresses combine elegance, respectability and reminiscences of old Ukrainian dressmaking traditions. State-of-the-art technologies provide very high quality and handwork adds a special touch. Ivanna (E-mail: ivanna@ukrpack.net) specializes in providing dresses for all kinds of shows, creates collections of evening and wedding dresses.
The company is run by Tetyana Ivanenko.
She graduated from a music school, then went to study at the Institute of Culture. As long as she remembers herself she has been fond of sewing and making dresses, at first for her dolls, then for herself, and now she designs and makes dresses for her own fashion house, Ivanna Company.
I, a Welcome to Ukraine journalist named Heorhiy-Hryhoriy Pylypenko, tried to arrange an interview with Ms Ivanenko for quite some time but she declined saying she was too busy. At last she agreed to meet me. It was a festival day in Kyiv and models from her company were to take part in a big show. I went to the Ukraine House where the show was to take place, the wide front steps being the catwalk for that day (in their own slang the models call the catwalk "tongue").
I arrived long before the show was to begin but it took me some time to find Ms Ivanenko. While I was looking for her I had an eyeful of gorgeous girls in all the stages of undress but they did not seem to notice me at all. For an outsider they appear to be distant, cold and somewhat disdainful. I found Ms Ivanenko in a small office on the first floor. I was offered coffee and "a couple of minutes." She’s very pretty, elegant. She looks like a gymnast rather than head of a fashion company, slender, long-legged, confident. "Go ahead with your questions," she offered, lighting a very long and very thin cigarette.

WU: (the interview was taken at the request of Welcome to Ukraine magazine) Ms Ivanenko, I need a tuxedo for a special occasion. Can I buy one to fit me perfectly from your company? Or do you make dresses only for women?
Ivanenko: Not only, but mostly for women. Recently we made several suits for men, the customers were fully satisfied and we’ve kept getting orders for more ever since. Let me see, your figure is of the kind that it would take some time to get you a good fit but anyway we make things to fit any figure. People are so different, some have ideal figures, many don’t. So for the lucky few we make dresses that reveal all the advantages and for others we make dresses and suits that conceal imperfections. We make everyone attractive. Incidentally, dress plays a very important social role. Particularly for men. You’ve got to look perfect, don’t you, when you attend a VIP reception, right?
People are so different, some have ideal figures, many don’t. So for the lucky few we make dresses that reveal all the advantages and for others we make dresses and suits that conceal imperfections. We make everyone attractive. Incidentally, dress plays a very important social role. Particularly for men. You’ve got to look perfect, don’t you, when you attend a VIP reception, right?

WU: Well, I know that one Hollywood actor, a big star too, turns up at cocktail parties wearing only swimming trunks, and sometimes even without them.
Ivanenko: I believe one has to be open-minded. If one feels like wearing nothing, one should have enough guts just go ahead and do it. We offer rather unusual wedding dresses, very open, as it were. With petals at the most intriguing places. They are a very hot item. I like people who want to be conspicuous and even shock others, and who don’t care what others would say about them.
I remember one painter, she was hot avant-garde, all bohemian, and even her dresses were somewhat weird, asymmetrical. She wanted us to make her a wedding dress, but without the traditional bride’s veil or long white gloves. I managed to persuade her that she did need something classical for that occasion, in the style of the sixties. She did look different and she was happy and beautiful, the way a bride should look.


Olga Sumska,
a TV star and theatre actress,
and Valeriya Ivanenko,
a leading TV journalist
and produser,
wearing dresses fron Ivanna.
WU: Was her bridegroom a good match?
Ivanenko: I don’t know, really, I did not attend their wedding reception. I only know that he is considerably ahead of her in years. Probably, he would have to put up with all the whims of his sweetheart.

A Bride in Red.

WU: Do you know who was the oldest bride who wanted a dress from your company?
Ivanenko: I do. She was forty-seven years old. Very liberal in her attitudes to many things and she wanted something out-of-the-way. She had a dress with a corset and crinoline, cacao-coloured, no veil either. But the dress had a definite style of being made specially for a wedding. The main thing is to get the right idea across.
The bride should not look like a Christmas tree or a flowerbed. I make it a point to get acquainted with my customers, to get to know what kind of persons they are, and then I build an image that would suit my customer best. Embroidery adds a nice touch. We don’t make the most expensive dresses in town but our quality is always top. Every dress is created by us to make the customer happy and every dress is made with the greatest possible care. It does not matter where you want to appear in it, in Paris at a reception, or at a party of your friends in a little town out on the sticks. We get many orders from all kinds of customers including Russian pop stars, famous athletes, diplomats, high-ranking officials. The customer I love best is Olga Sumska, a superb, highly intelligent woman and an excellent actress. She played the leading role in the recent TV serial Roksolana about a Ukrainian girl captured by the Turks who becomes the principal wife of a Turkish pasha.

WU: It seems these days very few people would be able to afford to buy a dress from Ivanna but what about renting a dress from you? Many women would be happy just to appear at a party in a nice Ivanna dress and impress every one around.
Ivanenko: The price of rent depends on the dress and on the time and season. But anyway it’ll cost you between a hundred and four hundred dollars. The Ivanna corsets make our dresses look great and at the same time they allow the wearer to breathe freely.
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Katya Buzhynska winner of the Slovyansky Bazar Festival  Grand Prix; stage outfut designed by Ivanna.

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Zhenya Nevolina, Miss Queen of    Kyiv'99.

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"Black and white magic"  from
Ivanna.

WU: What was the most expensive dress that you’ve ever made?
Ivanenko: It’d be pretty difficult to say. For a dress we called Boyarynya we wanted five thousand dollars but you see, we add decorations made of very expensive fur or precious stones and the price then would be difficult to estimate. But of course we make such dresses mostly for all kinds of shows or for beauty contests. The models wearing our dresses took part in Miss Ukraine, Miss Continent, Miss Europe, Miss Universe beauty contests.
WU:
Would you compare creative work of a fashion designer with that of, say, a painter?
Ivanenko: Sure, there is a lot in common in all kinds of creativity. I create dresses to bring out the individuality of the woman who will wear it. Sometimes we make a dress and start looking for a woman who would look good in it. Once we made a red wedding dress and the girl who risked putting it on for her wedding looked great in it. It was a surprise for everyone, including her bridegroom. I believe in surprises of this sort.
WU: French Sculptor Rodin once said that his creativity is boosted by hardships and love. Would you go along with such a statement?
Ivanenko: Not quite. I’m rather well to do at the moment. Love for me is a feeling that should bring out the best in a human being. And people will go on falling in love no matter what kind of hard times they may be living through — wars, revolutions, economic crises, what have you.
WU: You do look content. You are happy with your family?
Ivanenko: Very much so. I have two children, a son of ten and a daughter of five. I want to see them well educated. Dmytryk, my son, has a knack for drawing. He is so fond of computers, too. And I’ve been supporting my husband in more than one way for several years now.
W
U: Do you get depressions or bad moods? If you do, how do you cheer yourself up?
Ivanenko: Well, I have to admit I do have depressions and bad moods. Then I take a tranquilizer and a hot bath. These moods come usually at the night time, so after a bath I just go to bed trying to fall asleep, hoping things will look better in the morning. But when I’ve got much work to do, I just don’t have time for moods. When I want some lofty feelings I turn to literature, music and art. They give me a lot of positive energy. And I meditate. My meditations taught me a lot, too.
I believe now that you can hardly teach people to appreciate beauty. It’s a sort of inborn thing, either you have it or you don’t. It’s like with good nature - can you teach someone to be good natured and kind? I never envy anyone, I never pass judgement on people. And I believe in horoscopes. I think that there is nothing accidental in this world. I go where my destiny leads me. It takes a lot to love and be loved.
WU: Many people understand love as something mostly physical.
Ivanenko: I’ve never cared for sex for sex’ sake. The physical should go hand in hand with the spiritual. We are responsible for those we have domesticated, as one witty French writer said. I believe in a traditional family. Love, beauty, man and woman - these are eternal themes of poetry and music. My company helps people find and appreciate beauty.
Women want to be beautiful, that’s so natural in women, they are born with this. Look at very young girls - they are already after making themselves look beautiful. Appearance, no matter what some people may say, matters so much. Good appearance gives you confidence in yourself, it makes you feel good. Dress a woman in old baggy jeans, a shabby T-shirt and you’ve got a person who is grumbling all the time, dissatisfied with everything, never smiles. Dress the same woman in a properly made, well fitting dress, and you’ll have a totally different person! The world will look at her and she will look at the world in quite a different manner.

WU: Speaking about the world: do you travel a lot?
Ivanenko: Well, I used to travel rather much but after I’ve become the head of Ivanna Company there is not much time for that. The Arab Emirates is a place I find fascinating. They’ve made a tremendous progress in the last twenty-five years. Parks and skyscrapers in the desert - very impressive. Travels help one understand one’s own country and one’s people better. We, Ukrainians, have always been a generous and hospitable people.
The past several years have been very cruel on our people, so many of them are very hard up, so many need charity to survive. My company has recently presented the winner of Miss Wheelchair contest with a collection of dresses. I want to share, sharing makes me feel I give more than I take… My next trip is to New Zealand, then to Australia. Business, not pleasure. From there I plan to go to Israel, again on business. But apart from business, I do want to find at least a little time for leisure. It’s summer, you know.

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Dima and Dasha, Tetyana Ivanenko's children,  wearing garments designed and Made by theirr mother,, head of Ivanna.