Nadiya Zelinskaya and her daughter Oksana Sad in 'vyshyvankas' and 'vinoks'. / A.M. SAANDERS

Costa del Sol seamstress helps mark Ukraine's Independence Day

The 24th August marks the declaration of independence from the USSR in 1991. The day will be celebrated with great enthusiasm by displaying the national flag and wearing traditional costumes, some hand-made by Nadiya Zelinskaya who lives in Benalmádena

ALEKK M. SAANDERS

Nadiya Zelinskaya has been making Ukrainian national costumes in Spain since she moved to Malaga, 22 years ago. However, her way as a seamstress started when she was just seven years old.

"I used to help my mother embroider shirts made of homespun cloth. Such a shirt for girls is called 'vyshyvanka' (вишиванка), and has been a peculiar symbol of Ukraine's culture for hundreds of years. I embroider in a way I learnt in my childhood - from geometric patterns to mallow flowers or grape vines. Each piece can take weeks to even months to embroider. By the way, the embroidery can reflect different regions of Ukraine, and even cities, and it can signify happiness and good luck," Nadiya told SUR in English.

The embroidery can reflect different regions of Ukraine, and even cities, and it can signify happiness and good luck

In Ukraine there is even a day especially dedicated to the national blouse. The third Thursday of May is Ukrainian Vyshyvanka Day. Since last spring, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the 'vyshyvanka' served as a symbol of support and solidarity.

"For example, over recent months the flowery headdress and the typical Ukrainian blouse have become much more than just an accessory of the national costume. The 'vyshyvanka' has been worn by many celebrities in Ukraine and even... abroad to show sympathy for the Ukrainian people. Spain's Queen Letizia was one of the notable figures to show support to Ukraine through fashion, wearing a 'vyshyvanka'. On the eighth day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, she attended an event at the Mutua Madrileña Foundation in Madrid, and wore a 'vyshyvanka' along with her black trousers and heels," Nadiya said.

Spain's Queen Letizia was one of the notable figures to show support to Ukraine through fashion, wearing a 'vyshyvanka'

In Ukraine girls wear a headdress called a 'vinok'. It is decorated with flowers and ribbons, originally to hide a girl's braids.

"Every colour of the 'vinok' has its meaning. The central light brown ribbon symbolises the land and soil whilst a yellow one - the sun. Green colours represent beauty and youth. Sky and water are depicted in blue ribbons symbolising strength and health. Bread is illustrated with orange, while wisdom – with violet. Reddish colours are about truth and sincerity (crimson) and prosperity (pink)... By the way, I was surprised to know that Malaga has something similar. I was mesmerised when for the first time I saw verdiales (a musical fandango genre unique to Malaga province). The musicians were wearing 'gorro de flores', a headdress decorated with flowers and colourful ribbons. However, it was said that the flowers and ribbons symbolise the nature in general, without any specific significance of each colour. In contrast to Ukraine, such beautiful headdresses are worn by men, and only if a man has a girlfriend then he puts his hat on her head as a sign of love," Nadiya explains.

Verdiales headdress. / SUR

Incidentally, Nadiya Zelinskaya was encouraged to create these typical Malaga hats as she is very skilled in producing the Ukrainian 'vinoks'.

I don't mind doing the colourful Malaga hats one day, but now in the context of the war people express much more interest to our national symbols, and even order typical Ukrainian outfits

"I don't mind doing the colourful Malaga hats one day, but now in the context of the war people express much more interest to our national symbols, and even order typical Ukrainian outfits. So far I have sewn national costumes in order to participate in local 'ferias' and other different events, and give an impression of the nation in general. I adapt the ancient heritage into a modern context. There is always something patriotic in elements of clothing. This summer I was invited by El Sevillano in Nerja to attend a 'Blue and Yellow Night' charity event in the Los Caracoles rural complex. That show was different because the girls appeared on the catwalk in dark coats with hoods, and later took them off to show their colourful costumes. I hope the metaphor will become a reality very soon, and the disaster happening in my motherland ends. For that we still need support, and that's why on 28 August I am participating again in a charity event that takes place in the Bil-Bil of Benalmádena," Nadiya Zelinskaya added.

The Ukrainian national costume show in Los Caracoles in Nerja. / A.M.S.