Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ikat Porcelain Tableware

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Emerald Hermès plate from the Voyage en Ikat collection
Oscar de la Renta's 2005 ikat-inspired women's collection triggered a world-wide ikat trend in fashion, then interior design. Now Hermès has launched a collection - Voyage en Ikat - that puts ikat firmly on the table.

More than twenty hues centred on sapphire, ruby and emerald, are enhanced by 24-carat matte gold and come to life in designs composed "thread by thread".

This exquisite collection, which includes platters, presentation trays and tea sets, is hand made by master craftsmen in Limoges, France. It is available for viewing and purchase online.

Tashkent-based Rimma Gazalieva, is a leading Uzbek porcelain artist. She has been producing tableware inspired by Central Asian design - particualrly ikat and suzani patterns - for many years.

Rimma Gazalieva regularly holds master classes in Tashkent. Her pieces, including small items such as coffee cups and sugar bowls, can be bought at Human Wear in Tashkent, a boutique visited on Uzbek Journeys tours. You can view more samples of Rimma Gazalieva's work on her Facebook page.

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 Rimma Gazaliev's ikat-inspired tableware

Related posts:
Oscar de la Renta's Love Affair with Uzbek Ikat
Uzbek Ikat as Interior Design Element
The Story of Uzbek Silk Production: Step by Step
Ferghana Valley Silk Ikats: Tying the Clouds 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Kyrgyzstan's Bus Stops

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Cotton flower bus stop en route to Osh. Image: Lilya Kas'yanova
Bus stop spotting can easily become an obsession in Kyrgyzstan.

Dotted on the main highways and country roads, these bus shelters did not follow an austere, Soviet model. Instead they are a riot of mosaics and murals depicting Kyrgyz mythology and patterns as well as patriotic themes from Soviet times.

These bus stops are so surprising, so marvellous and at times so quirky, e.g. a yurt-shaped bus stop, a traditional Kyrgyz men's hat (kalpak) bus stop and stops with hammer and sickle ornamentation.

Kyrgyz bus stops can be viewed as public art - installations along city and provincial streets. Some of them are utterly impractical as bus stops but marvellous structures. Their heyday was the 1970s and 1980s.

Photographer Christopher Herwig travelled through 13 former Soviet republics photographing these marvellous structures. His deluxe, limited edition hardcover book was funded through crowd sourcing and sold out within two weeks of publication.

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A sunny, gentle Kyrgyz bus stop image
It is the most comprehensive and diverse collection of Soviet bus stop design ever assembled. It also includes interviews with the people who helped design and construct them.

A second edition is planned for autumn 2015. Sign up for notification about when it is available on Herwig's website. Do watch the video on that page for some fabulous images of creative bus stops and listen to Herwig talk about his obsession and the project.

Kyrgyzstan has some splendid bus stops - the tragedy is that they are rapidly deteriorating. Alexander, the driver on Uzbek Journeys tours, is very accustomed to clients calling out to stop for a bus stop photo. He is now a little obsessed by them as well!

Related posts: 6 Quirky Things About Kyrgyzstan 
5 Reasons to Visit Kyrgyzstan
100 Experiences of Kyrgyzstan

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Christopher Herwig's marvellous image of worker, dove and carousel bus stop - you will see this on the Kyrgyz tours

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Valentino Haute Couture Meets Suzani

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Valentino's Central Asian suzani-inspired jacket
Although Garavani Valentino retired in 2008, creative directors of the fashion house, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, have continued Valentino's signature opulence.

They are also respectful of the house's preset design codes, from Valentino's special red to his beloved high neckline.

The Valentino 2015 haute couture spring/summer  collection, in parts folkloric, was inspired by Central Asian, Russian and Ukrainian patterns.

It included stunning dresses, skirts and accessories with Central Asian suzani designs.

This is not the first time Central Asian patterns have been incorporated into couture pieces. Oscar de la Renta started the ikat trend in 2005 and then Dries von Noten and Gucci followed.

Since then, ikat continues as a strong fashion and interior trend.

Although there are many embroidered items for sale in Uzbekistan, Samarkand designer Nargis Bekmuhamedova sets the benchmark for quality, style and design.

Working with a women's cooperative in Nurata, Nargis commissions suzani embroideries for her unique coats, dresses and accessories. She also uses old suzanis and vintage woodblock printed fabrics to make exquisite coats, skirts and jackets.

On an Uzbek Journeys tour you visit Nargis' atelier in Samarkand. And in Tashkent a visit to to one of the finest embroiderers in the country is included:  Medena creates bags, ballet flats and boots as well as dresses and skirts.

Swoon at the images below of Valentino 's meticulous detailing and embroidery.

Related posts:  Samarkand: A Fashion Show & Uzbek Concert
Nargis Bekmuhamedova - Samarkand textile designer 
Symbols in Stitches: Uzbek Suzanis
Suzanis as Upholstery: the Brilliance of Bokja Design
Oscar de la Renta's Love Affair with Uzbek Ikat

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Valentino's to-die-for suzani-inspired boots

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Valentino's signature red, high neck and exquisite detailing

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Valentino's mix and match suzani patterns

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Valentino's couture pieces left and right with traditional Central Asian suzani centre