Martina Frattura – REBIRTH: The Elegance of Ukrainian Resilience in Couture

19th June 2024

Martina Frattura tells arc about a recent collaboration that saw her illuminate a one-day fashion exhibition for luxury clothing brand Khris K.

This is the retrospective of last February’s one-day exhibition of the independent luxury clothing brand Khris K: a testimony to the unlimited potential of light as a means of expression; a bridge between people, disciplines, and emotions.

Originally from Ukraine, now based in Portugal, Khris K is a brand that conveys messages of strength and hope and stands for resilience and optimism. More than just illuminating garments, light becomes the vessel for the emotions and convictions of visionary designer Khrystyna Kurliak, embodying the brand’s dedication to natural materials, zero waste, craftsmanship and exclusivity, as well as the message of renewal in the new clothing collection.

Working with lighting designer Camila Grimaldi, when we were asked to join the event team last year, it was immediately clear that it would be more than just choosing and placing the lighting fixtures.

The nature of a one-day event enriched the work with new design details, requiring a more scenic than architectural approach, as well as much-needed new collaborations.

We were required to transport visitors into an environment that would allow them to resonate with the designer and her artistic message in an ethereal, all-white cultural space, the one chosen as the canvas on which to develop our vision.

Central to our concept was the notion of spiritual upliftment and healing through communion with nature. This is how ‘REBIRTH’ was conceived: an event with an approach as spectacular as it is functional, co-curated with the designer and her team, where light finds its stage.

Going out and subverting the schemes of the catwalk, we imagined a metaphorical river, where stories ebb and flow, reflecting the complexity of life itself. Imaginary waters, a non-linear body of water that breaks, meets roots, is sometimes shallow, sometimes deeper, and where light becomes the current that guides visitors along this journey. In the illuminated room, the audience is invited to explore, reflect, and stop as they walk along this imaginary ‘river’.

The audience is called to ‘return to the source’, guided by the verdant charm of a Ukrainian forest that materialises between the bare walls of the room, ceasing to be just a passive receptor, but becoming a co-protagonist, looking at the islands ‘on the banks’ that house the designed clothes.

One of the new design challenges was to work in synchrony with an ecological and sustainable floral design company, which was needed to transform the space into a forest of scents and shades, and with a company specialising in lighting supplies for events, which supported our concept and helped us to fit perfectly into the limited time allocated.

Even the realisation of the lighting scenarios, with assembly and disassembly in two days, would not have been possible without the guarantee of flexibility and adaptability until the last moments before the event.

These logistical constraints dictated the choice of lighting: battery-operated luminaries with Wi-Fi DMX control, supplemented by wired projectors.

While ‘the source’ was represented on a structure belonging to the space itself with a video projector, the river was suggested by a series of linear luminaires placed in sequence, where the same ‘chase effect’ became the guide to the route along the clothes.

The choice of the wireless power and control system, also for the lighting dedicated to the exhibited garments, proved to be a far-sighted choice that allowed us to integrate any modifications, as well as considerably shortening the installation time of the luminaires and the fluidity of our and the other installers’ work.

Light became the pivot linking fashion, nature and human emotions, casting a luminous spell that transcended the boundaries of physical space and remained in the hearts and minds of all who witnessed its splendour, all in the very short time of a single day’s event.