“I Will Stay Till the End”: Ukrainian Model Eugenia Dubinova on Why Her Country Is Making Her Proud

Ukrainian model Eugenia Dubinova was born and raised in Kyiv, Ukraine. Having just appeared at New York Fashion Week, she is currently residing in a bomb shelter back home in Kyiv, as the city faces aggressive invasion from Russian troops under the orders of President Vladimir Putin. Over the past week, Dubinova has heard explosions nearby, while her boyfriend, Eugene Slavnyi, has volunteered to defend in the city center. She has heard stories from friends of the bombing in nearby Kharkiv, images of which are depicted below, killing innocent civilians. She has also witnessed the resiliency and strength of her fellow Ukrainians as they face an unprecedented onslaught. Below, Dubinova shares her experiences thus far—and why she’s remaining hopeful for her country.

I was born and raised in Kyiv, and I still live here. I started modeling at 16. Working in fashion, I want people to know what’s going on in Ukraine. As a fashion model, I would like to see more fashion media and designers be more active. A lot of people are showing solidarity all around the world, but some designers are not even paying attention to this. The situation now is not only our problem. I have designers who have helped me. I texted Kim Jones a few days ago, and he helped my boyfriend; the Rodarte sisters have been sending me a lot of emotional support help. My agency in Milan started collecting things to send to Ukraine.

I came back [to Ukraine] after New York Fashion Week. When I was in New York, I started reading news that airlines were going to stop flying to Ukraine, and I got really scared. I thought, I need to see my family. If this [war] happens and I won’t see them and my boyfriend, I’d feel really guilty. When I was back, on February 24, I woke up to a call from my dad at 5 a.m. He said, “Eugenia, read the news.” I opened my phone and saw that Ukraine was being bombed. It was shocking. Me and my boyfriend, Eugene, who is a journalist, live together in Kyiv, so we went to the store to get food and water, because we didn’t know for how long it could be.

We decided to stay in the city center with friends. Logically, we were thinking that nobody will bomb the city center. The Russian president said he would never touch city land, which was a complete lie. At first, you just felt panic. You didn’t know what was going on. We were listening to the bomb sirens, which meant we need to go to the shelter, and me and my friends were between the bomb shelter and home. The next day, I was at the bomb shelter while my boyfriend stayed home to shower, and he called me. He said, “I don’t want to stay here anymore. I need to go to resist for Ukraine. I don’t want to sit still and wait for something to happen.” He and his friends left on January 25 to resist with the Ukrainian army. I lost a piece of myself, but it made me love him more, seeing that he can defend me.

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