Karabakh-Collection by Leonie Mergen – showcasing Azerbaijani heritage – hits the London Fashion Week runway
Press Release: On 18 February, the young Berlin-based designer Leonie Mergen oversaw the UK launch of her stunning new Karabakh-Collection. The line of 18 designs takes a resolutely contemporary approach to the themes and culture of the Azerbaijani region of Karabakh.
The presentation followed in the high-heeled footsteps of its world premiere during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin and at the annual brand event for L’Oréal Professionnel, also in the German capital. London Fashion Week typically attracts 5000 of the international crème de la crème of the fashion elite. The afterparty – hosted by The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) at the Andaz Studio in London’s hip Shoreditch region – was attended by 100 top-flight fashionistas and covered by the BBC and AzTV (Azerbaijani state television).
Despite the inherent challenges in obtaining accurate information about the iconography of Karabakh designs – many books, designs and historical artefacts were destroyed during the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict, which raged from 1988–94 – the vibrancy of these national designs inspired young Berlin-based designer Leonie. She was particularly taken by the Azerbaijani game of chovkan (a more exciting precursor of polo) that also originated in the region and is played on Golden Karabakh Horses.
The ensembles feature patterns reminiscent of the country’s famous tapestries, with signature necklines and sleeved capes making an appearance in both menswear and womenswear. Azerbaijan’s legacy as a hub on the historic Silk Road, and as a leader in horse-breeding, is omnipresent in Leonie’s designs, with equestrian-influenced leather accessories and sophisticated silk elements playing an essential role in her collection.
Sleek magazine wrote: “The designer combined plunging necklines and sleeved capes with buttery-soft leather and delicate silk – a reference to Azerbaijan’s legacy as a hub on the ancient Silk Road. Geometric navy and burgundy patterns evoke the region’s infamous tapestries in the designer’s distinctive first show.”
Writing for C-Heads Magazine, commentator Harry Leath wrote: “Furs, silk, velvet and leather combine to exude an imperious sophistication whilst conceding a polite modesty in form; it is resplendent with deep, regal colours and rich with warm, classic textures. Mergen is an honest admirer of tradition and shows us how we can marry tradition with progression; we do not have to eschew tradition in order to move forward, we must embrace it with unfettered honesty.”
Tale Heydarov, Chairman, Founder, TEAS stated: “The Karabakh Collection is a very interesting project for TEAS. We are very happy to see that it has created considerable interest in Azerbaijani culture and that it has been picked up by a wide audience, ranging from media representatives all the way to industry professionals.”
With regard to Nagorno-Karabakh, he continued: “A fashion collection with this degree of international coverage and attention helps a great deal in showing to a wider public that there is an occupied Azerbaijani region called Nagorno-Karabakh and that steps have to be undertaken to protect our national heritage across all areas of culture and by harnessing the power of civil society.”
Visit www.karabakh-collection.com to see the new line.