RELISHING MORE SPACE: While Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Iran Tuesday to meet with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei First Lady Jill Biden met with her Ukrainian counterpart, Olena Zelenska, at the White House. President Joe Biden also made a cameo with a bouquet of flowers at Tuesday afternoon’s South Lawn event, according to a White House pool report.
While the fashion choices of first ladies and female politicians are routinely scrutinized by the press and on social media, Zelenska chose statement jewelry pieces for her second meeting with FLOTUS in two months. Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Mother’s Day two months ago to meet with Zelenska.
At least 12 million people have left Ukraine after Russian soldiers invaded the country nearly five months ago. For Tuesday’s photo-op in the Beltway, Zelenska opted for a brooch and earrings from last year’s Guzema x Gunia capsule collection titled Nezalezhna, the Ukrainian word for independent. Jewelry designer Valeria Guzema is helping those impacted by the war through fundraising and donating profits through the Guzema Foundation.
Zelenska was also scheduled to address Congress Wednesday.
Zelenska’s accessories Tuesday featured an abstract pattern inspired by ancient floral embroidery that is used for traditional handmade “rushnyk” Ukrainian towels.
When Zelenska met with Biden in May in Uzhgorod, she wore a “Freedom” pendant for Guzema’s most recent drop to benefit its foundation. Zelenska first wore the Ukrainian fine jewelry during the 2019 election and at the inauguration. For the latter, the architect and screenwriter sported custom “I Need More Space” earrings.
Her trip to Washington, D.C., included meetings Monday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as well as one with Samantha Power, who heads up the U.S. Agency for International Development, which has been instrumental in supporting the Ukrainian government and humanitarian needs. Perhaps like the late former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Zelenska chose seemingly symbolic Ukrainian-made jewelry — a limited edition archive Nezalezhna brooch and the custom “I Need More Space” earrings.
As is the case with all sectors of society in Ukraine, the ongoing war is hitting industries hard. In 2019, the fashion industry accounted for 16,000 jobs in apparel and footwear, and 16,000 more in fabric manufacturing. That same year, combined, they generated $1.18 billion in revenue.