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Kurdistan Fashion Week: Erbil hosts ‘revival’ of style

By A.C. Robinson 3/9/2018
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Models and designers from across Kurdistan and the world are showcasing their brands in Erbil this week in the Region’s first ever celebration of fashion. 

“Kurdistan will be really big and has a good future in the fashion market,” said Angelina Makeich, one of eight professional Ukrainian models who arrived in Erbil this week to work with the local models and designers.

“They want it and are learning. Kurdistan will have a strong fashion market because they have a lot of designers and a lot of talented people. There are also a lot of beautiful girls with amazing, unique faces,” she said.

Makeich thinks Kurdistan offers fertile ground for the fashion industry.

“What I see is that they have a growing economic situation and they are also very open minded and trying to learn something new, trying to learn more about fashion,” she said.

It has taken about a year to pull together the three-day event taking place at Erbil’s Divan hotel, with 37 designers from Iraq and greater Kurdistan showcasing their designs – everything from formal to casual wear, children’s clothing, and even wedding dresses.

“We have now 40 models selected for the project but it was over 2,000 models who registered,” said Paria Purmazafari, one of the event’s promoters. 

“The purpose of the event is to promote local talent and local art. This event is not only about showing beauty, showing the face or body or anything. We are here to show that Kurdistan deserves art, deserves talent and deserves to return to good times,” she added.

Makeich has been teaching local models how to strut the catwalk like a professional.

“If the models have questions or need some help we help them, show them how to walk, how to figure out walking in a super long dress, and how to introduce them on the stage,” Makeich said.

Eva Rubene, a 20-year-old Russian model from Latvia, has been living in Kurdistan for two years.

“I definitely support this event because it’s a new chance for Kurdistan,” she told Rudaw. “For this culture it’s something new, something fresh, and the fact that we are bringing models from other countries makes it international.”

“Kurdistan is setting an example and I think it’s amazing,” she added.

Blend Abdulaziz, a male model from Duhok, is excited to see a platform for Kurdish models and designers. Although this is his first time modeling, he has been working with a clothing brand in Erbil and Duhok for the past 10 years.

“This is very good and something new in Kurdistan,” he told Rudaw. “Fashion in Kurdistan is important to us.”

In the past, Kurdish models and designers had to travel overseas to the US or Europe to showcase their talent.

“If we have these shows and events in Kurdistan, it’s better for us. We don’t have to leave to another country,” Abdulaziz added. 

Kurdistan Fashion Week is a dream come true for local designers. Sarezh Kdr Rasul and her sister-in-law Hawzhin Ismail Hama, from Qaladza north of Sulaimani, want to see KFW become an annual event. 

“I feel very good and very excited to show my designs on the stage,” Rasul told Rudaw.

“We want to show the world we are capable of doing this. We have the power,” she said.

“I want this event to continue every year because it is very good for all designers and our people to buy local brands,” she added.

Erbil might be a long way from competing with Paris, the global fashion capital, but that didn’t stop Dominique Mas, the French Consul General, from stopping by on Monday.

“It’s really amazing to be here, I congratulate all of the organizers,” Mas told Rudaw.

“Maybe one year ago or one and half years ago we were in war, crisis, we were fighting against ISIS and many Peshmerga and civilians were dying and suffering,” he said. Now culture and the arts are returning to the Kurdistan Region, he said.

“For me it’s a kind of revival of Kurdistan. Something new is happening. It’s a new era, it’s a new time and I’m amazed by this situation in such a short time and of course I want to support these events and want them to increase in the future,” Mas added.

“I feel so happy for my Kurdish friends and friends living in Syria and Iraq to see how normal life can come back so quickly.”

Photos: Mohammed Shwani / Rudaw

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