“You Feel a Terrible Case of Survivor’s Guilt”: Ukrainian Model Pasha Harulia On Working Through the Crisis

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A photo of you went viral, where you’re carrying a poster that says “Stop War.” How was that experience?

That was the first protest I went to after the war started, at the Russian embassy. My husband woke me up because I was sleeping. It was 5 a.m., and he says, “I might be wrong, but I think they’re shooting missiles in Kyiv.” It wasn’t a surprise at all. We thought that sooner or later, the shit’s about to go down, and we will all feel the consequences.

We went first to the Russian embassy. They wouldn’t let us come to the gates. They made us be on opposite sides of the road. People were pissed, really. I’ve never had the intention of getting my picture taken. I’ve been recognized so many times at protests already. They’re like “Oh you’re the girl with the big white fur.” I’m trying to find the positive moments [like those] but it’s getting harder everyday to find something to laugh about.

What do you wish that people in the fashion world would do right now ?

I really do wish that everybody would donate and raise awareness. Fashion is a necessity, but it’s not an obvious one. A lot of car businesses are not exporting to Russia anymore. This is really important to the economy, so this is an impact that is going to make people in Russia very uncomfortable. I saw that Nanushka and Ganni are not exporting to Russia anymore, which is amazing. I wish more brands would pick up on that. I get it, it’s a business and Russia is a huge market. But do you want to support a war criminal? There are dead bodies lying on the side of the road. This situation calls for that.

I loved what Balenciaga did [Editor’s Note: last week the brand wiped its Instagram page and posted only a statement of support for Ukraine and a pledge to donate to the World Food Programme. Its show on Sunday, which took place after this interview, also paid tribute to Ukraine]. That’s how you do it. 

After Fashion Week, what is next for you? What further action do you plan to take?

Just yesterday, my husband and I were thinking about going to Poland to volunteer, but we were told that there were so many volunteers that they don’t need help, which makes me really emotional.

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