In its new campaign titled “Genesis”, the Kyiv-based Ukrainian lingerie brand Zhilyova emphasizes the importance of finding one’s tribe in order to overcome obstacles and grow in the direction of a better future. Produced just before Russia invaded Ukraine, the campaign comes as a message of strength and power to the Ukrainian people. “Genesis is our loud manifesto that shows we are ready to overcome anything on our path, becoming stronger and wiser with every step”, says Valeria Zhilyova – founder and designer of the brand that has been donating 10 percent of all its proceeds to support Ukraine.
Words by Fernanda Russomano
The campaign was directed and photographed by Natasha Ivanova and starts off with one woman stepping out of a dystopian reality into a surreal world. Armed at first, she lowers her sword when no danger is detected and joins the beautiful women that inhabit this new reality – finding her tribe. A huge skull becomes the focal point of the unfamiliar land as women dance around and pose defiantly on top of it, representing “the burden of the past, the monster – different for all of us – that we have to defeat.”
With this beautiful, surreal visual story, the Ukrainian brand not only shares a message of resilience but also of women’s empowerment. Founded in 2014, Zhilyova became a nationally beloved brand, taking a stand against body shaming, advocating for women’s rights and freedom of expression, and standing for diversity, body acceptance and self-love. Now, around eight years after its first launch, the brand continues standing up for what it believes in, supporting Ukraine during the Russian invasion by donating to Trinity Ukraine, a foundation that delivers humanitarian help from Europe and UK to Ukraine.
When we were working on the idea of the campaign with Natasha Ivanova, we wanted to create a vision of learning how to work and live together for a better tomorrow. In the midst of an outrageous invasion of Russia into Ukraine — this message appears to have a much more symbolic meaning.
– Valeria Zhilyova
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 24th 2022, many cities have been sieged and heavily bombarded, leaving what was home to millions of Ukrainian citizens in ruins. Mariupol has been one of the cities that most suffered from the war. According to BBC News, “Ukrainian officials now believe that [from a pre-war population of nearly 500,000 citizens] at least 25,000 people were killed in the fighting in Mariupol”, with around 5,000-7,000 of them having “died under the rubble after their homes were bombed.”
Born in Mariupol, Valeria chooses to remain hopeful even after everything she witnessed and the struggles her family – like many Ukrainians – had to endure. “Now more than ever I believe in the idea I’ve put into the collection.”, she says, “Our nation is faced with a horrible challenge. But I’m deeply convinced that we will win as we know what we’re fighting for.”
My native city is Mariupol — which has been under siege for the 4 months of the war. I had to watch it being destroyed building by building — with weapons literally turning all the places of my childhood memories into dust, and my whole family staying there — with no water, no heat, and no connection to at least send a message they’re still alive.
It was a miracle that they managed to get out alive: under constant shelling and bombing, from the true hell on Earth. Now Mariupol is almost completely burned down and stays under occupation.
But our spirit is strong, and this war showed us that our tribe is made of 40 million Ukrainians and people all around the world who support us. We must make conclusions, move forward, and grow. After all, light always defeats darkness. As sure as Ukraine will win as well.
– Valeria Zhilyova
Conscious about its overall impact, the brand uses exclusively high-quality European materials for its products, which are all produced in Kyiv. They choose to focus on sustainable solutions by avoiding overproduction and remaining mindful throughout the entire process – from the production to the working conditions of its employees. As a way of supporting Ukraine, 10 percent of all of the brand’s proceeds go to Trinity Ukraine.
More information about Zhilyova can be found at zhilyova.com.
All images courtesy of Zhilyova.
DIRECTORS DUO – Valeriia Zhilyova @zhilyova & Natasha Ivanova @nataliaivanovaaaa
DOP – Ruslan Mingazirov – @mingazirov_ruslan
Editor – Natasha Ivanova – @nataliaivanovaaaa
Gaffer – Oleg Filatov – @play_like_a_child
Colorist – Olha Kriukova – @rainbowfoxcolor
Production Designer – Maria Chupaylenko – @maria_chupaylenko Music Producer – Koloah – @koloah
1 AD – Svetlana Symakova – @sansasay
Production assistant – Oleksandr Panchenko – @aleksandr.panchenkoo
VFX – Alex Verenchyck – @alextyledetach
Focuspuller – Marko Trotsenko – @marko_trotsenko_
1 AC – Zakrevskyi Serhii – @wake_up_men
Crane operation – Sasha Roshchyn – @sashcko Mechanic – Evgene Shestuk
Mechanic – Roman Corolchuk
Key Grip – Nikita Stolbov
Сhief electrician – Moiseienko Serhii Electrician – Kazakov Ilya Electrician – Dordol Andrian Electrician – Lukhta Mykhailo Electrician – Kretov Petro