Kazakhs on Canvas

The weather wasn’t that great in Kazakhstan. This time of the year is mostly grey. It rained a lot and we really only had one full day of sun, when we visited the Big Almaty Lake. I’m not complaining, just saying… We’d imagined our shoot in the steppe, a vast region of dry, open grassland, an hour and a half outside of Almaty. (According to my guide book it’s the largest dry steppe in the world, covering approximately 804,500 square kilometers! That’s a lot of yaks…) But unless we wanted to turn this into a mud sliding competition, we’d have to take our business indoors.

Luckily my Kazakh photographer, Damir Otegen, is a connected man. He contacted the Kasteev Museum in the city center and got permission to set up shop on the second floor. We had free reign of the entire museum and soon came up with the perfect rainy day concept. I also thought we’d shoot all my favorite looks from Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Almaty on myself, like I usually do, until Madina Narbayeva appeared with her knitwear collection. (For those who follow me on instagram, she’s the girl with the corn rows and all white outfit I was raving about. She didn’t show at MBFWA, but at the other Kazakhstan Fashion Week.) I dropped her in the hair and make-up chair and gratefully relieved myself from any modeling duties.

I took one or two looks from each of the collections I loved and mixed them with each other and with traditional Kazakh souvenirs I picked up from the Bazaar and the local shops. If you hover over the images you will find credits for Khan Kuchum, Anna K, Ruslan Panama, Alexander Aratyunov, Etre Cecile (from Sprezzatura pop-up shop in Esentai Mall) and Mandarin Narbayeva. It turned out to be an awesome day, with art galore and inspiration for days. Did you see the painting with Stalin on a carpet?? Pretty damn iconic.

Many thanks to Damir Otegen for the photos, Pivot Point for the hair and make-up, Aika for the logistics and Madina for modeling.

May 9, 2014

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3 Responses to “Kazakhs on Canvas”

  1. avatar

    Incredible! Central Asian style can be so fascinating–I suspect their diverse cultural influences and stark natural beauty have something to do with it (and perhaps because commercial culture has yet to saturate every aspect of life). Your shoot still turned out terrifically, despite the change of location. Gotta love happy accidents! Adore the knits, the unusual silhouettes, that *hand* bag, and of course the ladies outside of their ger presenting a Stalin carpet. Just wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

    lovetotalknyc.com

  2. avatar
    hannahtsp - Reply

    She’s got some calm subdued wildness about her. Must be an interesting character. I take it you bring the adidas slippers in your travels… it’s so joooos!

  3. avatar
    hannahtsp - Reply

    She’s got some calm subdued wildness about her. Must be quite a character. I take it you bring the adidas slippers in your travels… it so joooos!

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