The Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is no stranger to awkward global PR attention. There was Borat. Now there is a presidential (re)election with 95% turn out and 97% vote for the country’s current ruler. Arts should-would-could be a last resort platform for discourse on socio-cultural realities of Kazakhstan. Welcome KAMILA KURBANI, a young Almaty-based designer who showed her fall-winter collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia in Moscow. Hers was a clearly export-oriented effort depicting the sprawling steppes, the mountain peaks, the nomadic yurts, the stallions galloping through poppy fields under the rolling clouds. You can make a souvenir calendar from these garments, the duty-free kind one swipes on their way out. Ugh… However, the ambassadorial capacity of fashion is not entirely lost here. Kurbani succeeded in translating the natural wonders of Kazakhstan into quite a few beautiful looks. Same poppies, transformed into voluminous pants. The coats with stitching and construction reminiscent of yurt design. The affective pairing of cloud-abstract tops with flower-strewn skirts. It was in these ensembles that the collection departed the confines of a tourism expo and found its footing as a couture cultural messenger. Now, are there Kazakh designers bold enough to tackle the aforementioned sociopolitics?
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