Ukrainian fashion designers Iryna Prachenko and Olena Hryshyna had their lives turned upside down when they were forced to flee their hometown of Kharkiv, Ukraine earlier this year.
5 months later, the former classmates are now teaming up for a new business venture that aims to find and magnify beauty in even the most unlikely places.
Imago Photography Studio is a new styling and photography business inspired by Iryna and Olena’s shared desire to keep creating. The word “imago” means metamorphosis, and by capturing aspects of a person they may not have seen before, that’s exactly what the pair hope to inspire.
“Each person ultimately tries to understand and find themselves,” Olena explained. “A lot of people have to spend their whole lives on this, and some manage to do it faster. What can speed up or at least facilitate the search? Perhaps a side view of yourself? L The main thing is not to be afraid to take risks and as a result, you see another side of yourself.We believe that our mission is to help you see your inner beauty and reveal it to the world.
In their new venture, Iryna has taken on the role of photographer, while Olena works as a stylist. Although this creative path was very different from the one they experienced in Ukraine, it also proved to be a transformative force in their own lives.
“We really want to create. When we started doing it again, it was like a breath of fresh air,” Iryna said. “Everyone we’ve photographed has loved them and that’s really important to us. We put our creative energy into what we do and seeing people enjoy it gives us more energy.
Since starting their business, Iryna and Olena have captured a wide variety of people and scenes. They mainly focus on individual and family photos, life moments and fashion photos. The world of fashion is a world they both know well, having studied fashion design together in Ukraine. Discovering a passion for yoga and realizing that she couldn’t find the yoga clothes she wanted, Iryna decided to make her own and thus, her YOX brand was born.
“I wanted to create something shiny, beautiful, elegant and interesting.
“My graduation work was my first collection. I organized production and started selling clothes, first in Ukraine, then all over the world. Garments were sewn to order with individual adjustments as requested by the client,” she said. “I liked receiving feedback from customers, seeing how clothes change the state of a woman when she puts on a beautiful suit, how femininity manifests itself, how her gait changes, her posture straightens, her gaze shines . I wanted to bring more beauty into this world.
Olena studied at the Academy of Art and Design and worked in interiors before continuing her studies in fashion design. She then participated in three seasons of Ukrainian Fashion Week alongside other design students before creating her own clothing brand called GRA. This clothing line emphasizes sustainability and promotes the idea that you can have stylish, high-quality clothing without harming the planet. Olena’s designs incorporated natural materials, including myco-material – a 100% biodegradable material created from mushroom mycelium and technical hemp.
Both Iryna and Olena have achieved great success as designers in Ukraine. However, when war broke out, they were forced to divert their attention from their creative dreams and get themselves and their children to safety.
At this time, Iryna’s friend and musician from Gorey, Damian Brady made a public appeal for accommodation in Wexford for Iryna and her children. Her appeal was met with a large number of offers and Iryna soon found herself with accommodation in Ballygarrett. Thanks to the many offers of accommodation received, Iryna was also able to help friends in Ukraine to flee. One such friend was Olena, who came with her children in April and now lives in Ballymoney.
“We were confused for a few months because it was like we had arrived in another dimension. It was like we were born again,” Iryna said. “Of course it was difficult, of course , there was a lot of pain. But I always try to look at situations in a spiritual way, try to understand why it happened and what lesson life is going to teach me. I need to be strong inside, especially for my children.
With little understanding of Irish style preferences or where to source materials, and no premises to take over production, Iryna and Olena soon realized that continuing their fashion business in Ireland would be extremely difficult. This is what inspired them to take a new direction in the form of Imago.
“Thanks to our Irish friends, we found a way out,” Olena said. “They gave us the time and the opportunity to come together here, to understand what we want to do here and to be happy at the same time. That’s a lot. Many of us haven’t had such a opportunity at home, because we had to survive. But in Ireland, we had this opportunity, surrounded by so much care, friendliness and a desire to help, which meant a lot to us. We are very grateful for it.
“We would like to tell the Irish that the help they give us is paying off. We are happy in this country doing creativity and what we love. We want to show the beauty of this country and its people through our creativity.
You can find more information about Imago Photography Studio on the Imago Photography Studio Facebook and Instagram pages.