Ukrainian model Pasha Harulia has been a runway fixture since she walked for Prada’s spring 2018 show. This season, Harulia walked exclusively for Miu Miu, but her focus is far from Paris. Harulia, who grew up in Crimea and whose family now lives in Kyiv, has been attending protests in Paris almost daily to support her home country during the Russian invasion. Below, the 22-year-old tells Vogue how the past week has been for her and what she wishes the fashion industry would do in light of the crisis.
Vogue: Is your family in Ukraine right now?
Pasha Harulia: Yes, every single member of my family, except my husband, who is here in Paris with me. I live in Kyiv most of the time, so my whole community is there. A lot of people have left, but most of them have stayed.
My family has been in a shelter for the past seven days. Not only was nobody prepared, but those places are always horrible. They can’t be comfortable.
Walk me through what you’re doing this past week. How are you handling Fashion Week and this at the same time?
Right before the war started, I learned that I was confirmed for the Miu Miu exclusive, which frees me from all of the castings. I don’t have to do all this Fashion Week stuff. So I have a lot more time to do activist work. I have a community of Ukrainians here in Paris who work in the fashion industry, and everyone is feeling the same. It’s really hard to focus and to do your work.
You’ve been going to protests; what else have you been doing?
Once we’re done [with this interview] I’m going to another protest. We’re going practically every single day. If there are any gatherings we’re going there, because sitting at home is becoming really hard. I’m not alone. I’m with my husband who is suffering the same amount. But it’s really hard to do nothing. You feel a terrible case of survivor’s guilt. It’s hell. Thankfully, we’re in a great country for protesting. People here know how to protest. And it makes me really happy. A lot of people care and show us support. They’re really showing up.
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.
We are really going to focus on raising funds. My main job is modeling, which is paid quite well if you’re lucky enough to get a job. So I’m going to focus on donating funds that I, a privileged person, can get. I’m gonna go out and get as much money as I can and donate a big share of it to the cause. Our community [of fashion people in Paris] is trying to raise awareness in our industry, because those people have money [to donate]. Just raising awareness is not exactly enough. I’m supporting one specific charity, Come Back Alive. It almost exclusively supports the army. I’ve been called a militarist, but I don’t have another choice. You can hate authority and be liberal, which I am, but sometimes you don’t have time.
A lot of my friends are saying, “Let’s book a show girls and afterwards you can come out to the photographers and show them [the Ukrainian flag.]” I’m going to be using my platform to the fullest. My community of people who are stuck here with this terrible survivor’s guilt are trying to do our best with turning fashion’s heads to the issue.
This interview has been edited and condensed.