Fashion in Azerbaijan In Post-War Times

Author: Nurana Novruz, Gular Abbasova

Editorial note:
Now we are witnessing a real boom of ‘90s fashion, a fashion style we hated, did not desire to wear, and tried to forget. We associated the fashion of ‘90s in Azerbaijan with the color of black, sheepskin and leather coats (made from artificial texture), blazers with bulky broad shoulders, sports costumes with classical shoes, T-Shirts with 'Titanic' prints and platforms, volumized bangs, which caused the madness, and "Cobra" perfume.

Everything mixed: the war just over, the flow of IDPs from Nagorno-Karabakh, the economic crisis, and the struggle for independence..... however, despite the people's fear and concerns, somewhere in the centre of Baku, youngsters started to become involved in art and fashion; they began to mix their artistic skills with clothing design, trying to urge youth to choose clothes with taste.....


Azerbaijan, in the post war period, took numerous steps in a variety of fields, including the revival of the movement. Fashion was one of them. New clothing designers reflect on their own creative ideas during this period.

Starting from the ‘90s, designer Turan Kerimbeyli played a role in the field of fashion with her fashion house "Dom Frida" (Frida’s house). She mainly was engaged in the design of various accessories, while simultaneously applying herself to the design of clothes.

“I started to be engaged in the fashion industry in 1996. At that time, the first fashion festival was held in Azerbaijan, and our compatriot Raf Sardarov came to Azerbaijan and organized the fashion festival. Fashion, and a clothing exhibition, seemed like a fairytale to us. I remember how I prepared for this festival and then received a diploma. When Raf Sardarov came, he radically changed the image of the most famous pop star, Aygun Kazimova. I have all these photos, and can show you. There was the personal imagemaker and designers of Elton John Endri and Lokon at this festival.”

She says that there is a famous designer, Elsa Schiaparelli (whose collection is in a museum now, and is not being sold), whose clothes she could not afford, so used a little of her in her own dresses, and is now thinking to devote one of her collections to this formerly known designer. “It would look very rude from my side to try to be on the same level with one of the famous designers. Currently, I am also young, but I can compare these now and estimate. At that time, there were so few opportunities. I tried to combine fashion with painting and make something interesting. My first project was devoted to national dresses. I was the first fashion designer-painter who painted on the fabrique by hand, because at that time I did not know that I could print my own textiles in Turkey or China. I knew it 3-5 years later. With my first collection, I took part in the festivals that were held from 1996 till 2003. In 2000-2001 I was awarded with “The dress of the year” nomination.  The war was just finished, and when I started to be involved in fashion, the war was already over; fear and concerns disappeared. People started to wear more colorful cloths. Women preferred to be colorful not only in their clothes but also their hair color.” 

The world of Fashion and the world of color is one world. When we talk about the fashion of the ‘90s, the first color that comes to mind is black. Everybody was covered in black; however designer Turan Karimbeyli says that not only today but even during the period of war, the color black did not gain a foothold in Azerbaijan to the extent of its neighbor country, Georgia. Still in Georgia, the color black is highly demanded and its actual color is not only applicable to clothes preferences but also hair color, too.
The black color of dress, for the purpose of mourning is also different, but it did not turn into a constant popular fashion color in Azerbaijan.  I would not say that we love black color much. No, we love more diversity in Azerbaijan. "

Similar to how cassettes replaced CDs, changes in the Fashion Industry occurred as well. In comparison with the fashion of ‘90s, many things changed in fashion, however, there are people who still keep their own styles. Fortunately, at that time, the boutiques opened, and we have also been trying to urge our youth to choose clothes with taste. Even then, there were many people who wore with tastefulness. Cloths from abroad came to our country. Today, we have many shops and opportunities for designers, like fashion festivals, where every designer can show his or herself and attract new customers.

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