Chopy Fatah draws her inspiration from garments given to her by her grandmother and the history of Kurdistan. Photo: Chopy Fatah
Chopy Fatah, a well-known Kurdish singer and performer, talks to Rudaw about opening a Kurdish clothing shop. Chopy, who released her first album in 2003, says she is inspired by traditional clothing and Kurdish history, but also by modern designers like Chanel and Roberto Cavelli.
The native of Kirkuk who has lived most of her life in Europe has opened Chopy Designs in Erbil's Naz Quarter on Danial Qasab Street. One of the biggest challenges for Kurdish clothing designers in Europe is the unavailability of the proper fabric. Chopy plans to blend modern fabrics with traditional designs, so garments match the climate in Kurdistan and elsewhere.
Chopy sees her experience as a singer being positive as she ventures into the clothing business. She believes one endeavour shouldn’t hinder the other: ‘I want to be known as Chopy. I will never quit art.’
Rudaw: You are currently working with a Kurdish clothing brand. How did you come up with the idea?
I came up with the idea. I have been doing works of art for nearly 18 years. I wore Kurdish clothes at all the parties and concerts where I have taken part in. I have always taken pride in Kurdish clothes. This idea struck me and I wanted to serve my society in whatever way possible. This will make me very happy. Many women asked where I got the clothes I was wearing. They
I am very interested in old Kurdish styles.
were asking about their designer as well. I have always been interested in Kurdish clothes, and I thought I should serve Kurdistan in this respect.
Can you describe its design? Is it a mixture of old Kurdish styles or a combination of your ideas and old Kurdish clothing?
It is a mixture of all these things you have mentioned. My mother gave me a cloak that was worn by her grandmother. Having this robe at home made me very happy. I have spent all my life in Europe where it is difficult to find Kurdish fabric. And this posed difficulties for me in making Kurdish clothing. My mother and I have had many discussions, thinking of the design I want to use. Sometimes I think about what to wear for next week’s concert.
There are no such difficulties in Kurdistan where there is too much fabric. I am very interested in old Kurdish styles, like the old piece
I reassure my fans I won’t give up on works of art.
of cloth that I mentioned earlier. I like folk style as it reminds of the history. That is why I have used this style for color and design. But the clothes will be modern and practical. We are in the summer season now, which is why the clothes should not be thermal and heavy with dark colors. I have taken these things into account. The clothes will be a combination of old and modern styles in a way that retains our history.
You have so far been known as a singer. From now on, would you rather be known as a designer or singer?
I want to be known as Chopy. I will never quit art. I have prepared a song and clip which I will publish soon. But I also like Kurdish clothes and presenting for television programs.
You have opened an exhibition. Is it to sell fabric, or design too?
It is for both. The show floor is on two levels. The first floor is for tailors and storage. People will be happy to visit Chopy Designs. We will do everything for customers. We have clothes for parties and brides too. We also have Kurdish fabric.
What are the prices like for your clothes?
We have plain things for cheap, and things that are expensive. We use unique fabric which was very difficult to get. We use fabric
On the one hand, there are rules that apply to designing. On the other hand, there aren’t any rules for it.
that doesn’t exist in the market.
How many people have got an opportunity to work with you?
Our staff consists of nearly 30 people, and this will increase. I have sent clothes samples to friends and people want them. That is why we need more staff.
Do you have plans to export your brand?
Yes, we have the intention, but currently our main focus is in Kurdistan.
Would your customers get to choose the design they want, or would you choose what design to use?
In the west, there is a saying: “The customer is king.” We want to please people who come here by giving them what we have and what they want. When they come here, they learn from my designs too. They want their clothes to be very special and unique for the party that they go to. We sit together and listen to their wants. We can make new designs for them.
Where did you learn designing? Did you study it or it was just your hobby?
I tried hard to learn it. It’s been nearly a year I have been reading about design making. I see designing like… On the one hand, there
Husbands of women who come to us tell us we have beautiful clothes for their women, but not for them.
are rules that apply to designing. On the other hand, there aren’t any rules for it. It is about the person’s imagination as to how they want their designs to be. For example, I designed the robes that you see in my shop.
What designs impress you in the world?
I am impressed mostly by Chanel because its products are high class. I also like Roberto Cavelli products.
Do you not feel like working on design-making will distance you from works of art?
No. On the contrary, it enriches my knowledge of art. I have prepared a clip where I have used my design ideas. I reassure my fans I won’t give up on works of art.
Have you thought about men’s designs too?
Why not? Husbands of women who come to us tell us we have beautiful clothes for their women, but not for them. We will surely think about this too if there is demand for it.