Two years after the revolution and Kiev is an increasingly vibrant city, but it’s still overlooked as a travel destination. The Ukraine’s capital stands on the hills and the wide river Dnieper, with 11th century churches and unique Soviet modernism among the key sights. Long hot summers and cheap flights from Europe are an added reason to go. But the most remarkable thing to explore in the city at the moment is the new wave of emerging youth culture, and fashion designer Anton Belinskiy is best placed to lay it out here for Amuse.
Belinskiy is part of the new wave of Ukrainian fashion and his work channels the emerging energy of local youth seeking to define their identity. Born and raised in Kiev, he’s run his brand for five years and already enjoyed international recognition with a nomination for the LVMH prize in 2015, a show with VFILES in New York and a range of stockists around the world. Kiev has always been integral to his creativity and he embraces its unique atmosphere: ancient heritage mixed with traces of Soviet history and layered with the flash aesthetics of 2000s rampant capitalism. Here’s where he hangs.
“Kosatka cafe and bar is a perfect place to hang out in almost any given situation: to see friends, sit with a laptop, have breakfast, lunch or drink in the evening. The same goes for Zigzag café, which was recently opened by the same owners. Both places are contemporary, with nice interiors and good prices. Yaroslava is a historical bakery that’s been at the same address for over a century. Their speciality is incredibly cheap and delicious pastries and pies loved by Kiev inhabitants of all ages and backgrounds. In my lifetime it hasn’t changed much, and I remember very well how I used to go there as a child with my mother.”
“Kiev markets are always a great inspiration because of the crazy mix of things one can find there: from food to Ukrainian folk dresses and from flowers to Chinese knock-off sportswear. Markets often have great architecture too. Besarabsky market, right in the centre of Kiev, was constructed in 1912 and has a beautiful glass dome. There is also a great vegetarian fast-food called Vegano Hooligano if you need to grab something on the go.
The building of Zhytnyi market from 1980 is one of the most interesting in Kiev, with a ceiling, which sort of hangs on four poles. The Lesnoy second hand market at the remote Lisova metro station is like a whole planet with used clothes and other goods. It’s divided into sections, with more refined stuff to piles of crumpled things you have to dig into. Thanks to its very low prices, most young people of Kiev find vintage clothes there.”
“The circular building of the Salute Hotel was finished in 1984 is one of the symbols of Kiev. It was supposed to be a skyscraper but the plan was scrapped, so it’s only seven stories high. The rooms are quite cheap, around $50 per night, and it’s a great chance to experience the atmosphere of the era long gone.”
“Hashtag bar’s speciality is whiskey, both straight and in cocktails and sours. It also hosts pop-up exhibitions of emerging Kiev artists and illustrators, and has decent DJs playing in the evenings. Squat 17B is a bar in the courtyard of a real squat in central Kiev. It has rugs and pillows to sit and lie on with a glass of wine or cider, so it’s a perfect place for summer, and also very cheap.”
“Cxema is probably the most famous of the new Kiev raves [covered by i-D in their Exploring Ukraine’s Underground Rave Revolution film]. It has raised a whole generation of party-goers. Every time I see huge amounts of cool kids and new faces. It happens in various locations including a skate park under the bridge. Cxema founder Slava Lepsheev has also recently launched the new night called Volodya which is all about punk and rock bands, as he’s trying to revive the culture of going to gigs.”
“You could find this in a usual guide book to Kiev, but I still find it very inspiring. Saint Sophia’s Cathedral or simply Sofia Kyivska dates back to the 12th century and has stunning frescos, which are a must-see. I also have been to the National Art Museum of Ukraine numerous times, particularly to see unique works of suprematism and Ukrainian avant-garde.”
“Among the new independent art spaces, check out Port Creative Hub. It’s located just by the river and hosts exhibitions, talks, workshops and other cool events. Izolyatsia, an art foundation and platform for cultural initiatives, used to be located in a converted factory in Donetsk but moved to Kiev because of the armed conflict in the area. Now it’s based in a former shipyard. The work Izolyatsia is doing is very important, culturally and politically.”