2021  N3-4(192-193)
The modern Turkmen fashion is an original and distinctive phenomenon, which is noticeably different from what the world fashion industry offers nowadays. We can say for sure that it is driven by the national cultural traditions and the Turkmens’ vision of beauty in general that brings with it a very special sense of decorativeness, harmony and style.
The originality of exclusive Turkmen outfits can be explained by the centuries-old cultural and historical context. As is known, the museums of Egypt, Great Britain and the United States keep the samples of ancient multi-colored silk fabrics made in ancient Merv (presently Mary) that was famous in the medieval East not only as a city of the largest book depositories and observatories but also as a trendsetter of fashion, aesthetic traditions and high artistic culture.
Turkmenistan is one of the few countries in which a national dress has never left the women’s wardrobe. The most modern trends in global fashion are popular in the country, but along with this, there live and develop traditional national clothes with their characteristic cut, natural fabrics, bright decor and accessories.
So, the tendency to borrow elements and design of national clothes, the fantasy ideas that are wide-spread among the international designers of the world get a special interpretation in the Turkmen tradition.
Ethnic fashion for Turkmens is not a trend of time, but the need to feel their belonging to the richest national cultural heritage, and therefore it has its own history both on the catwalk and in everyday life. And the extent to which this history is interesting and up-to-date is evidenced by the very successful participation of Turkmen fashion designers in international fashion shows and contests, as well as close attention to the Turkmen fashion trends by the world-famous fashion designers.
“I admire the Turkmen women wearing national dresses and headscarves every day. For example, we are not used to seeing national costumes in everyday life. It is exotic for us. I go out to the streets of Ashgabat and do not feel myself at a national holiday. Everything is very appropriate, modern, beautiful,” master of the Russian fashion industry Vyacheslav Zaitsev said when he visited the Turkmen capital in 2015.
Over the past several years, famous fashion designers have visited as guests the Ashgabat fashion shows that were previously timed to coincide with Day of Workers of the Textile Industry of Turkmenistan and now with Day of Turkmen Carpet. The Vyacheslav Zaitsev Fashion Theater presented in Ashgabat the collection of the Autumn-Winter 2015–2016 season and evening dresses that were made of the Turkmen silk fabric – Keteni. At the same time, the world famous fashion designer noted the high skills of designers of the Ashgabat Fashion House.
The Ashgabat public also got acquainted with the works by such famous designers as Tatyana Parfenova, Alena Akhmadullina from Russia, Muammer Ketendzhi from Turkey, Kuralai Nurkadilova from Kazakhstan. On the Ashgabat catwalk, Belarusian fashion designer Lyudmila Labkova presented for the first time her new collection of knitted dresses and suits “Summer – 2018” made of Belarusian linen and fabrics blended with Turkmen cotton. Gorgeous evening multilayer dresses made of silk and chiffon were demonstrated by her colleague from Belarus Yulia Latushkina.
The Turkmen public enjoyed more than once the Valentin Yudashkin Fashion House’s shows of new collections. The world-famous Russian couturier also highly appreciated the design solutions of his Turkmen colleagues. Etro Fashion House, one of the top ten Italian fashion houses, demonstrated at the Milan Fashion Week 2019–2020 a large collection in the Baroque style using Turkmen national ornaments. The collection included both casual clothes and evening dresses. The famous Berlin designer with Iranian roots, Nobi Talay, uses Turkmen motifs and accessories in his collections in a very original way.
In short, the relevance of the ideas and solutions of modern Turkmen fashion designers is obvious. And the Ashgabat Fashion House under the Ministry of Textile Industry has always held a leading position in the development of Turkmen fashion. Turkmenistan’s oldest “fashion factory” was established in the 60s of the last century. Their models have been repeatedly demonstrated on prestigious international catwalks. In recent years alone, exquisite chiffon, taffeta, velvet and keteni outfits have been presented in China, Russia, Belarus, Italy and the Republic of Korea. Experts and fashion trendsetters highly appreciated the products of the Miras brand of the Ashgabat Fashion House whose main objective is to promote the Turkmen costume, which is modern and does not lose touch with its origins and cultural originality.
The Ashgabat Fashion House produces embroidery using old techniques, restores historical costumes and creates stage outfits for artists. The Fashion House is the organizer of major shows and seasonal fashion shows, as well as professional contests. In May 2015, they held for the first time a contest called “Chepereller” (skillful hands) among fashion designers and designers of national clothes. This show contributes to the popularization of the national heritage, which certainly includes the Turkmen dress and helps new designers who successfully progress to the world catwalks.
It should be noted that the G"ulZaman Fashion and Flower House was among the first private Turkmen fashion salons to earn international recognition. It held a leading position in the Turkmen fashion industry for a long time.
A new generation of Turkmen designers has emerged in recent years. They are noted for their original interpretation of ethnic motives in modern clothing. For example, in 2019, Ayna Izbasar, the founder of the same-name brand, became the winner of the Golden Needle award at the II International Festival of National Clothes held during the celebration of Novruz in the Uzbek city of Shakhrisabz.
Private fashion salons, numerous ateliers and fashion houses play an increasingly significant role in the Turkmen fashion industry. They have shops and workshops fitted with modern equipment. They also have their own catwalks and showrooms.
The Mynasyp brand clothing atelier is among the most popular. Other than luxurious evening and wedding dresses, their collections feature daytime clothes – dresses with jackets and jackets decorated with 3D trim.
The Myahirli Zenan Fashion House, one of the young representatives of the Turkmen fashion industry, is also actively developing. Having started manufacturing clothes under the brand of the same name in July 2019, Myahirli Zenan focused on women’s and children’s clothing and accessories in the national style. Along with orders for individual dresses, they produce ready-made clothes for sale in their own shop.
The originality of the clothes from Myahirli Zenan lies in the transformation of the traditional cut of national clothes, interesting combination of ethnic details and modern design solutions. Participating in the shows of the past year, including the one in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the country’s neutrality, designers of Myahirli Zenan demonstrated an original collection that featured clothes made using the Yangli cut (straight free cut with wide straight sleeves), which is typical for older women’s dresses, and Turkmen scarves, as well as outerwear – short coats and cardigans with motifs in the national style.
Offers for joint ventures coming from foreign colleagues are evidence of the recognition of the path chosen by Myahirli Zenan. It is also worth noting that Myahirli Zenan works for the popularization of national holiday customs by manufacturing the original Sachak (tablecloth) and Bukcha, colorful decoration for the bride’s dowry. In the nearest future, they plan to produce a collection of exclusive dresses for nursing mothers.
In the context of the successful development of modern Turkmen fashion, the works by the Asman Fashion House, established in 2017, deserves special attention. In 2019, the Ministry of Textile Industry of Turkmenistan awarded to the House a diploma for participation in the contest among fashion houses and a certificate for winning the first place in the “best designer” category.
In 2020, Asman took part in the fashion show organized on the last Sunday of May in celebration of Day of Turkmen Carpet. It was also awarded the main prize of the Golden Needle – 2020, a unique contest held for the first time in Ashgabat. The new collection won in two nominations – the best fashion house and the best design of national clothes.
Ancient motifs, details and whole sets of ritual elements introduced into the modern stylistics add the unique charm and almost mystical aura to the Asman collections, thanks to which experts from the fashion world now recognize its characteristic style. The ethnic theme in the unique works by the Asman Fashion House looks sublime and noble. According to their experts, many clothes are made by hand and cannot be duplicated. Hand-made national embroidery with the ornaments drawn from the history and traditional culture of the Turkmens are the inseparable decoration of women’s dresses.
As is known, each element of the Turkmen ornament carries the semantic meaning. In the old days, people were able to accurately read this information. Today, searching for the key to the secrets of Turkmen ornament, designers and craftsmen of Asman visit historical and ethnographic museums, libraries and get acquainted with the archaeological findings. They also study the techniques of clothes manufacturing of the XVIII–XIX centuries.
Young embroiderers seem to have inherited at the genetic level the secrets of their grandmothers. Their painstaking work is comparable to that of carpet weavers. Stitch by stitch, they infuse their Keshte (the art of Turkmen hand embroidery) with feelings, thoughts and moods. At the same time, modern design technologies are also used in hand-made embroidery.
When they receive an individual order, the procedure includes learning the specifics of the client’s requests, measurements and sometimes assessment of the client’s character, followed by consultations. Only after that the fabric is selected, the pattern and colors of embroidery or other handmade elements are suggested. Then, a designer develops patterns, creates sketches and a computer image and discusses it with the client. Designers also offer an opportunity to see a dress in 3D format.
The Asman team consists of professionals in their field. They create beautiful products, not only clothes, but also original shoes, handbags in the Turkmen style and various accessories. They draw inspiration from the images of bygone eras, while ensuring that clothes made in a beautiful ethnic style from domestic fabrics – keteni, velvet, cotton and knitwear – harmoniously fit into modern life.
This Fashion House continues producing seasonal collections and the so-called capsule ones, which are presented not only at shows and their own store but also online, making it possible to significantly increase their client base and learn opinions of professionals from the world of modern fashion.
In May 2020, taking advantage of video communication, specialists of the Asman Fashion House took part in a video conference organized by the Ministry of Textile Industry and made a video presentation of the Asman brand that aroused great interest among industry experts, including traditional trendsetter in the fashion world – representatives of the fashion industry from Paris.
The show of a new collection on the historical theme that the Asman Fashion House presented on 1 December 2020 at the International Exhibition dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s neutrality was a great success. The collection named Zaman (era, time) featured 29 women dresses that presented the distinctive ornamental traditions and features of arts and crafts characteristic of each of the five regions of the country as well as costumes on the topic “White City – Ashgabat.” The intertwining ancient traditions in the national costume and modern silhouettes created an extraordinary effect. Clothes presented in Ashgabat gradually moved to the fashion store “Asman”, and the designers currently actively work on the new collection “Spring-Summer 2021” as a gift for women on the International Women’s Day.
The living heritage presented by the modern Turkmen fashion industry is considered to be part of the general concept of preservation and popularization of the national cultural heritage. And this is the key that allows Turkmen fashion to remain fresh and up-to-date.