Traditional motives in today’s fashion

Issue #1 • 2606

(Case study of fashion designers creation – L. Babaeva, S. Amir and L. Saifi)

At the end of the 20th century when Uzbekistan regained its independence, much has been done in the country for cultural development, fashion area included. Frequent festivals and contests including ‘Osie Ramzi’, ‘La haute couture’, annual fashion show ‘Lights of the Big City’, contest of designers of traditional costume within the framework of the Open folk-lore festival ‘Boisun Bakhori’ and many others ensure individual designer’s approach to their work allowing them express their ‘ego’. It is hardly possible to imagine creative work of country’s modelers without folklore and ethnical trends.

Cultural heritage of every nation has always been a source of inspiration for fashion designers. As M. Nekrasova notes, “folk art is a huge world of nation’s spiritual experience and artistic ideas permanently feeding professional artistic culture” (1, p. 8).

Folk motives have made up an indispensable part of the work of many fashion makers. Such festivals like ‘Boisun Bakhori’ bearing the concept of revival of the ideas of a traditional oriental costume, pushes designers to making collections in the ‘folk’ style. Besides that, conduct of fashion shows allowed discovery of new talented designers like Lola Babaeva, Saida Amir and Lola Saifi.

Lola Babaeva works with the “ethnic” style. She has participated in many foreign festivals and contests and is one of the famous domestic modelers today. Excellent knowledge of the history of costume of peoples of Central Asia and other eastern countries allows the modeler use various folk motives while creating clothes. For each new collection, L. Babaeva derives her inspiration from the oriental traditional clothes and enhances it with modern silhouettes, fabrics and trimmings. The designer makes good use of many kinds of the Uzbek decorative applied arts – embroidery, painting on fabric, jewelry and etc. The image created by her presents the image of a true eastern woman.

Up to the 90-s of the previous century the fashion designers used mainly atlas and bekasam of national fabrics. With the revival of traditions and restoration of the technique of making old fabrics, designers received the possibility to work with the materials that once were famous worldwide – adrass, shoi, bekasam and others.

It is impossible to imagine l. Babaev’s collection without headdresses. Thus, luxuriant turbans in the series ‘Arabesques’ made up its distinguishing feature. Being an inseparable part of her models, they may vary greatly. They can be presented by turban-like constructions from traditional fabrics and kerchiefs, skullcaps and caps made by the designer herself or simple traditional male head-ware like a Khorezmean cap – ‘chugurma’.

While creating her new collections, L.Babaeva permanently experiments. When in her hands, anything can be used for making clothes. For instance, she has made a bodice for the costume using decorations for plaits – ‘jamalyak’ – and parts of gold and silver ware. This resulted in the Grand Prix of the festival ‘Osie Ramzi’ for ‘Non-traditional Use of the Traditional Style’ and ‘The Best Feminine Model’.

Saida Amir, the young fashion designer and the finalist of the International contest of modelers ‘Couturier of the Year 2004′ (Moscow) and participant of many other festivals, needed very little time to occupy a deserved place among the famous modelers of the domestic fashion. Her collections comprise models of ‘Haute Couturier’ style (high fashion) and ‘Pret-a-porter’ (ready-made clothes). Saida successfully uses ethnic motives adding special elegance to her models. Being a good analyst, she studies traditional costumes and does not simply copy them, she attaches them her own interpretation.

At the same time, one can feel in her collections certain degree of theatricality (collection called ‘Elegy of the Desert’). It is the influence of the school of the Republican College of Arts where she studied at the “Theatrical Costume’ department. Working upon this complicated collection, she tried to not only display her idea but also create an image for each particular model taken apart. In this collection, one may see a ‘small part’ of the East embodied in the image of the costume called ‘Pomegranate’.

Saida’s models combine well matching traditional and European fabrics like silk and organdie or other artificial fabrics. In her last collections, Saida Amir uses black-and-white, ultramarine and green colors, she feels color, texture, and be those colors bright, contrasting or pale shades. She does not make mistakes in color combinations. It is impossible to name her style with only one word, synthesis of the eastern costume and trends of today’s fashion are easily traced in.

Bright coloring, furnishings and rich figuration characterize collections of L.Saifi who became famous among fashion designers as a ‘master of batik’. Lola Saifi was one of the first in Uzbekistan to apply this technique for creating clothes (she was a member of ‘Batik’ group). Her works are peculiar as they are making up a single ensemble – from head-ware to manually painted foot-ware and traditional jewelry and accessories beautifully supplementing the clothes.

L.Saifi’s collections are characterized by mix of styles, antiquity and modernity. Sometimes ethnic models demonstrate multiplicity of layers – dresses and gowns of traditional cut fully painted in the batik manner and put one onto another.

The designer uses traditional fabrics to create new silhouettes, complicatedly cut elegant dresses belonging to ‘pret-a-porter’ class. For her fashions L. Saifi mainly uses natural fabrics – silk, cotton and flax very often painted by herself. Decoration of her models is based on traditional Uzbek, Eastern Asia ornaments and patterns of the nomadic tribes. While choosing decorations, L. Saifi turns to such kinds of traditional arts like embroidery, weaving, carpet-making and even architecture that applies astral, zoomorphic and vegetative ornaments – circles, medallions, elements of ram’s horns and etc. representing symbols of ancient mythological outlooks and magic images of the Eastern peoples.

In many works, one can trace a part of her character – a joyful and lively person. It often reveals in color or ornamentation. She likes experiments with colors and creates a bright multicolor spectrum conveying her mood to a spectator.

After being acquainted with the creative work of such fashion designers like L. Babaeva, S. Amir and L. Saifi, one can say that folk topic fast entered in the modern world of fashion. Poetizing traditional motives in their collections, designers are significantly contributing to the formation of the domestic school of design.

Binafsha Nodir
Photo by V. Evdokimov

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