A group of eight to 10 protestors gathered outside the Christian Dior store in New York’s SoHo district Thursday to protest the luxury brand inviting a supporter of Russia’s Ukraine invasion to its Paris runway show.
Yana Rudkoskaya, a Russian actress, TV presenter, social media influencer and wife of Olympic figure skating champion Evgeni Plushenko, has long been a vocal supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and she and her husband have expressed support for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last February.
Mild backlash ensued when it was revealed Rudkoskaya had received an invitation from Dior to its haute couture show on Monday as part of Paris Fashion Week.
Rudkoskaya is listed among the list of “1,500 warmongers” compiled by the Free Russia Forum.
This faux pas on the part of Dior prompted a small group of New Yorkers of Ukrainian and Russian heritage to protest in front of the Dior storefronts on 57th and 59th Streets in midtown Manhattan. The SoHo gathering on Thursday was their third of the week.
“This was something that really shocked me because Dior is a name everyone knows,” said Tatiana, a protestor who did not wish to give her last name for fear of reprisal against her family back in Russia. “How did they not do a background check? If you work with Russia—unfortunately in this world, you are either for this war or against it. There is no way you stay in a position to be silent; no way you can ignore what is going on because you are part of it, too.”
Tatiana said most passers-by who inquire aren’t aware of the situation.
“They generally don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “We want to know what’s going on with Dior and how they messed it up. Our position is Dior should be more selective of who they choose to work with and who they invite to their shows. They should be aware of what’s going on in the world and not support terrorism—if they want to be a brand that’s respected in the world.”
At the time of the Russian invasion, the LVMH Group, which owns Dior, donated $5.5 million to victims of the war, and released a statement that said: “The LVMH Group is closely monitoring the tragic situation in Ukraine and stands alongside all those severely affected by this war. The group’s first concern is the safety of its 150 employees in Ukraine and is providing them with essential financial and operational assistance.”
LVMH, which also owns Givenchy, Kenzo, TAG Heuer and Bulgari, announced in March it was shutting all 124 of its stores from Russia.
Most, if not all, major international fashion brands stopped doing business with Russia in the fallout of the war, which prompted Rudkoskaya and other Russian women to take to social media and cut up Chanel handbags after the French brand pulled its shops from Russia and asked Russians shopping abroad to pledge they wouldn’t wear or display any Chanel products while in Russia.
“She is on [a] sanctioned list by Ukraine, she is on list of 6,000 by the [imprisoned Putin opponent Alexei] Navalny team. The list shows all the supporters of the war in Ukraine, all the propaganda people, anyone who supports the war in any kind of way,” Tatiana said. “She has spoken out so often about how she supports Putin and she had no issues traveling into Europe, for the world-known Paris Fashion Week.”
Tatiana said her group wants to see Dior acknowledge its error and apologize.
“At least apologize for making that mistake. I do not know who was responsible for sending her the invitation, but a simple apology and explanation why they made the mistake,” she said.
If that request isn’t satisfied, Tatiana said she and her group will turn out in force during New York Fashion Week, Feb. 10-15, protesting Dior and any other fashion brands with ties to Putin sympathizers.
“If there is any brand that has supported the war in any way, we will have to speak up,” she said.