Ivan Frolov, known as “Vanya” to his friends, has been designing clothes since the age of 14. He tried his hand at costume-making at several Ukrainian TV channels and later began studies at the Kyiv University of Technology and Design like a “normal” wannabe couturier. Yet his style was so prominent and unique that before long he was noticed at the Ukrainian Fashion Week, where the 20-year old premiered a collection of his FROLOV brand.
The rest was history. He became the “Breakthrough of the Year 2014”, according to Vogue Ukraine. Within weeks singer Jamala, already a big star in Ukraine, asked him to design costumes for her upcoming concert in Kyiv.
It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. It went from strength to strength: after Jamala had been picked to represent Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest 2016, Vanya was in charge of designing her stage outfits and also some of the dresses for her red-carpet appearances.
Ivan Frolov is proud to be dressing Ukraine’s hope at Eurovision who has become a close friend over the years. The coffee-coloured dress the singer wore for her first red-carpet walk in Stockholm became a runaway success with reporters and fans alike:
Jamala is not your average pop star: with a powerful voice ranging over several octaves, strong eye make-up and dramatic hairdos that do justice both to her shiny, dark hair and her quirky personality, she would stand out anywhere. A Crimean Tatar from a musical family, she managed to make it big in Ukraine without resorting to over-sexualised performances and without compromising her musical talent. She picks her song material carefully – it is often centered on history, culture and hopes for disenfranchised.
Her clothes make her standing-out even more outstanding: asymmetric designs, cut-out details, flesh exposed in a sexy yet demure way.
As a designer Vanya loves playing with themes of seduction, boundaries of sexuality and gender identity. “I want people to feel comfortable, liberated and ready for anything in my clothes – whoever wears the design and wherever his day or night will lead,” – he says.
The philosophy of his clothes is “intelligent provocation”: Jamala wore a navy trouser suit for her first-rehearsal Eurovision performance. She later asked the reporters: “Should I pick it as my Grand Final outfit?” and received a resounding “Yes!” in reply.
At just 22 years old, Frolov is excited to be taking part Eurovision: it is not only about pop music and winning for the Ukrainian team, but also about making the voice of Crimean Tatars heard: part of Jamala’s song is performed in her ancestors’ language and it concerns the troubled history of the small nation.
Portrait of the artist: Ivan Frolov:
Jamala says she is not watching the bookies predictions. “I prepared well, I brought an excellent team to Stockholm. We have an old saying: ‘Look at yourself!’ We use it when people get ahead of themselves. Before you judge anyone else, look at yourself!” – she told reporters in Sweden.
The singer is looking at herself but is clearly aware many people are looking at her. While in Stockholm, she has been promoting not just the FROLOV brand, but also other Ukrainian designers: some young, some well-established.
Here she is rocking a gem-adorned dress by another rising star of the Ukrainian fashion scene, Artem Klimchuk:
A dress by Vita Kin’ in the style of a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt:
And here – in a colourful coat by Lilia Pustovit, a well-known designer whose clothes are available in Europe: