2010 September 9
Just Say Guli!
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(NEW YORK) How many first daughters are showing in New York this season? By our count, just one: Uzbekistan’s Gulnara—aka “Guli”—Karimova, whose ethnic-inspired designs, outrageous taste in gowns, and megabucks couture habit have already made her a name in Europe. The “Princess of Uzbeks” gives us the goss.
You’ve got a PhD, and also a master’s degree from Harvard. What are you doing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week?
I’ve studied in a few different fields, yes, and have a number of degrees—like in sociology, economics, telecommunications, and international relations, as well as the jewelry and accessories design degrees from F.I.T.—and I’m really lucky to be able to get to use them in my everyday life. But design is one of the passions that I pursue. It’s not a job; it is something I feel like doing. It’s the same with poetry and music, which I also create in my spare time. You’ve already shown this collection in Milan.
Why did you decide to bring Guli to New York?
We have a lot of friends and fans in Europe, so New York was the next logical step. We see it as a perfect stage for sharp, fresh, and new collections from all over the world.
According to Wikipedia, you’re also a singer, a philanthropist, a businesswoman, and a foreign ambassador. When do you have time to design?
When you have a lot of ideas, and some of them are really big, the first thing you need is time. Usually, you don’t have that luxury, so you need to build an infrastructure and put the right people in place. That’s what I’ve done!
What can we expect from this collection?
It consists of 34 looks and features traditional Uzbek fabrics: adras, bekasam, atlas, han atlas, silk, and shoyi. All the ikats have been produced by the Guli creative team based on ancient hand-weaving techniques. There is a lot of modern casual-wear made with a traditional concept of fabric and pattern. There is also a line of accessories using handmade golden embroidery, chain stitches, laser-cut silk, and leather. One of the central parts of the line is the Guli jewelry collection, which consists of both “important” pieces and easy, less-expensive trendy ones.
What’s the fashion scene like in Uzbekistan?
Fashion is something very young and new for our country. We have just started to introduce it, and obviously it is not yet such a big industry like it is in the West or in some Asian countries. So in order to speak about Uzbek fashion, you have to understand that it’s like the first steps of a baby. It’s just a small segment of the population who are following it. It’s not only about income, though; it’s also related to mentality and local taste. That said, there are certain people who started to really pay attention to those things and who have created their own style to be in fashion.
You're a big couture buyer. How do you choose your pieces?
I have my favorites, but usually there are some that are more successful than others. I go through and have my own preferences for each season.
When is it appropriate to wear couture?
It’s always appropriate—depending on what lifestyle you’re after and the mood you’re in. It’s also always important how you wear it.
What about ready-to-wear?
My all-time favorite pieces are a black clutch, a Loro Piana jacket, Siwy jeans, and a short black Chanel dress.
You’re fun! Would you ever want to edit a magazine, like Dasha Zhukova?
I had the experience of working with a young team on some publishing projects. It takes courage! But I think it’s one of the most amazing things—to build a product with a unique character that is interesting to many people. If I ever have an opportunity and the luxury of time, I would definitely try it!
BY VALENTINE UHOVSKI
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