Azerbaijan-inspired doll raises €1800 for UNICEF project for children in Darfur

Tilmann Grawe ranks amongst the foremost Paris-based fashion designers of the past 20 years. His creations have graced, amongst others, Lady Gaga, Aishwarya Rai and Lara Fabian. Tilmann has become renowned for ready-to-wear garments that enhance femininity, combining classicism and new technologies, and they incorporate such unusual materials as lizard skin and ostrich feathers. He has now collaborated on a unique charity project, commissioned by the French office of The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS), raising €1800 for UNICEF.

Over the past five years, Tilmann has applied his creativity to the UNICEF France Les Frimousses de Créateurs charity challenge, which is now in its tenth year. The concept is simple – some of the world’s greatest fashion designers and houses, including Giorgio Armani, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Gucci – decorate a doll in a unique manner. This doll can either be specially made for the designer, or is a standard doll supplied by UNICEF. The dolls are then auctioned at the Petit Palais in Paris to raise money for a children’s vaccination programme in Darfur, Sudan.

This year, Tilmann visited Baku for a fashion shoot, during which he became captivated by Azerbaijani culture. He was subsequently commissioned by TEAS France to create the Ulduz Buta doll. Tilmann commented: “I was there when TEAS France was launched in Paris earlier this year. I was aware that UNICEF enables designers to use their skills to help others, so we thought that we could collaborate and I could make something for TEAS. They saw what I had done in the past, and the dolls that had sold, noting that each had a narrative element.

“The little doll is named Ulduz Buta, which was originally a basic doll from UNICEF. It’s a shape that I like – the doll always has my head, by the way! I altered the doll to represent the Azerbaijani ‘buta’ form. In Sanskrit, ‘buta’ means ‘fire’, and in Azerbaijan it relates to the ancient Zoroastrian religion. The head is in buta shape, and the whole body is covered with different buta elements, in various sizes. We started with the basic colours of the Azerbaijani flag – blue, green and red – starting at the bottom with the blue, and going up to the green. Every little buta shape contains a piece of red, so we have some movement on the doll. The doll is without gender, was born in Baku, and was born in 1991, when Azerbaijan regained its independence from the Soviet Union. I am delighted that children will benefit from the money that it raises.”