By: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish designers will be represented during a solo segment called the “hidden beauty of Kurdistan” during London Fashion week organized by the House of iKons on February 21 next year.
Zarya Azadi created the segment. An experienced Kurdish catwalk model originally from Batman in Turkey’s Kurdish majority southeast, Azadi is also a Yezidi (Ezidi).
“The fashion show that I am working on, in cooperation with the House of iKons in London, is an effort to take part in the fashion world as Kurds from Kurdistan to gain international recognition,” she told Kurdistan 24.
“It was a challenge since we had to find Kurdish fashion designers around the world, and we searched for them in different areas until we could select at least five designers in order to create the show.”
Azadi’s family fled to Germany as refugees in 1991. After that, she studied BSc in Real Estate Management at Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom and picked up fashion as a hobby.
Azadi also works with NGOs like Mundo Cooperante to highlight issues against women’s oppression. She has launched a campaign of her own, “Evolve Your Heritage,” and is the club leader of Girl Up Kurdistan, a United Nations Foundation initiative to empower Kurdish girls and women, for which she says she is looking for members.
“I have many international friends and cooperation partners, in London, Paris, Milan, Berlin, Los Angeles and New York. We started with London to work with the CEO of the House of iKons, Ms. Savita Kaye. She gave us the chance to participate in the fashion show as Kurds highlighting Kurdish art and culture and the hidden talents of Kurdish fashion designers.”
The designers of the House of iKons have platforms worldwide and work with celebrities such as Jlo, Katy Perry, Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, and many more. This platform supports emerging designers worldwide to enter the fashion industry and gain international recognition.
Next February, the Kurdish solo segment will be shown named “The Hidden Beauty of Kurdistan” with several Kurdish fashion designers from all four parts of Kurdistan.
“All designers and creations are unique in every way highlighting all different types of fashion styles as well as traditional Kurdish clothing. This is not a competition but rather a celebration of the uniqueness and diversity we share as Kurdish people as one nation,” she said.
It includes Atelier by Khoshkar Horre originally from Afrin, now based in London, à la mode by Ala Hadji originally from Zakho, now based in Berlin, Inci Hakbilen originally from Haymana, now based in Hamburg, JoJo Braut & Abendmode by Nesrin Hassan originally from Rojava, now based in Bochum, and Yadê Couture by Sadiye Demir originally from Mardin, now based in Bern.
“All five designers are very talented and have been in this industry for many years. All of them have their unique life story of how they moved from Kurdistan to Europe and how they pursued their dreams of becoming a fashion designer with all the hardships they faced. I am immensely proud of each one of them as they all have come a long way to take part at this international event.”
A glimpse of what to expect from the Kurdish solo segment was already shown digitally on September 19 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We weren’t planning to be part of the September’s show from the beginning,” she added, but the House of iKons’s CEO Savita Kaye allowed Zarya Azadi to take part, free of charge online.
“It was a nice step forward to advertise for the upcoming show in February and it was broadcasted live, also on Youtube. And then later it was also shown on Amazon Prime Video USA.”
However, Azadi said it was quite challenging to do it online. “This considering the fact that everyone had to email and forward their content. Using images and videos, this was quite challenging, and everything had to be sent to London.”
Azadi added that they named the “project as ‘The Hidden Beauty of Kurdistan’ as we want the Kurdish designs and costumes to be known around the world.”
She said that this has never been done before and will be the first time in the history for Kurdish designers to be showcasing their collections during the London Fashion Week.
This unless the COVID-19 pandemic delays the show with the UK government imposing increasing restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus in the UK.
Editing by Khrush Najari