Meet Ivan Frolov, The Ukrainian Designer Who’s A Hot Favourite Of Blackpink’s Lisa, Beyoncé and Kylie Minogue

For the 30 year old Ukrainian designer, fashion is his weapon of choice to fight the ongoing war in his home country
Blackpink’s Lisa in Frolov. Photo: Courtesy of Frolov

Ivan Frolov arrives as a hard-hitting reality check in the realm of high fashion. Among his dedicated clientele, the designer is best known for his glittering pieces spotted on stars like Beyoncé, Kylie Minogue and Sabrina Carpenter. But behind the sparkling costumes and cheerful hearts strewn across his work, is a small, integrous team lead by Frolov in Kyiv, Ukraine as they continue to find the silver lining amidst the ongoing war in the country. My conversation with Frolov took place while we were some 8,000 kilometres apart through a computer screen, but even through the pixels, the designer radiated a sense of calm resilience unbothered by the frivolities of the fashion industry.

Ivan Frolov. Photo: Courtesy of Frolov

GRAZIA Singapore: You’ve been very vocal about the war affecting Ukraine, and you also presented at London Fashion Week as a Ukrainian voice. How has the ongoing war impacted you as a designer and has it been translated into your designs?

Ivan Frolov: The most important thing for me is to save my work from the influence of the war. I don’t want my work to be a part of the speculation that comes with the war because it’s too serious of a topic for me. At the same time, it is also my priority to preserve the DNA of the brand despite the current situation; we’re still very much about sexy gowns, corsets, the exploration of the human body and sexuality.

Crystal-embellished pieces in the Frolov studio. Photo: Courtesy of Frolov

The war didn’t change us, which shows how strong we are as a brand and as a nation. We have our separate charity projects that bring awareness to the war, and raise funds for those affected and rebuild their homes. At the end of the day, I see these as separate projects under our brand because I don’t believe in using the war and our Ukrainian identity as a publicity strategy. We are still able to do what we do the best despite the war. Of course, there’s a huge dissonance that comes with being in Ukraine and making a gown for Beyonce or someone like that. Our embroidery masters will be stitching crystals onto an evening gown with air alarms going off in the background, so it really shows how we’re staying strong and preserving the brand DNA despite everything going on.

A gown being completed in the Frolov studio. Photo: Courtesy of Frolov

GRAZIA Singapore: It’s a testament to Frolov and the Ukrainian spirit. On the note of Beyoncé and her dress, how did it feel to see your designs being worn by the biggest names in the world?

Ivan Frolov: Truth be told, I didn’t feel anything special at that moment. I was actually on a train between Ukraine and Poland when I saw it and it’s rather difficult to travel out of Ukraine because of all the transits. Before the war, my biggest dream was to design for Beyoncé and she was the person I wanted to dress the most. But when it happened, it didn’t feel like my dream came true. Right now, we only have one dream, and that’s the victory of Ukraine.

It’s a strange feeling because I’m also very proud of my team for making it happen, because it wasn’t an easy process of getting the pieces to Beyoncé. It’s important to us when big celebrities show their support for Ukraine.

Beyoncé in Frolov. Photo: Courtesy of Frolov

GRAZIA Singapore: Could you share more about the process of creating custom pieces for the stage?

Ivan Frolov: We keep the process the same regardless of the client, be it an order through our website or a couture client or a celebrity. But when it comes to designing pieces for celebrities, we work extensively with their stylist—from moodboarding to understanding the demands of the performance. For the stage, we always do our research to prepare comfortable costumes to ensure they can breathe properly, move freely for choreography, and the more technical onstage equipment that they’ll need to wear.

With these factors in mind, I’m always thinking about the comfort of my client on stage. I think the best costumes always leave the wearer feeling like it’s a part of them, and they don’t think about whether it suits them or not—because it fits perfectly, there’s no separation between the dress and person. I think the highest level of professionalism is when you’re able to find this balance between design and comfort.

Kylie Minogue in Frolov. Photo: Courtesy of Frolov

GRAZIA Singapore: How would you describe the Frolov woman?

Ivan Frolov: Every woman in the world is a Frolov woman. I believe the human body, regardless of gender, is already couture because each individual’s body is so unique and beautiful as it is. In our last couture collection, we created a huge mirror in the shape of a heart. And that mirror itself was one of the looks in the collection, as it’s the only way one can see the best couture creation—the human body.

At the end of the day, I know some people may feel that Frolov isn’t their style, but there’s a magic that happens with our dresses. They might not like embroidery or corsets, but when they try our pieces, the magic happens and they love it. I love and believe in this magic and it works for our brand. It’s the kind of magic you can only experience if you’re willing to try. Frolov opens people’s minds to feel their sexuality in new ways, and I feel that all the time with our clients. I always encourage them to try something new, even if it’s out of their comfort zone—and they always end up loving it.

Sabrina Carpenter in Frolov. Photo: Courtesy of Frolov

GRAZIA Singapore: So what can people expect from Frolov down the line?

Ivan Frolov: We’re currently working on two new collections; our couture and ready-to-wear collection which will be shown during London Fashion Week in February. As for other things going on with Frolov, we’re definitely going to be dressing some big celebrities—that’s all I can say for now!