If you were dropped into the Esentai Mall and had to guess what country you were in, you could mistakenly feign yourself in Dallas or Hong Kong. This shiny new hunk of a building in Almaty (Kazakhstan) houses pretty much every big brand name store front you can imagine: Louis Vuitton, Lanvin, Stella McCartney, Prada, Marni, even Sask Fifth Avenue and it’s easy to forget this was once the fashion-stripped Soviet end of the world. Today it’s a shopper’s paradise, perhaps only for the new generation of stylish to-do Kazakhs but nonetheless an asset to the country’s growing fashion image.
But there was one little store that literally stopped me in my tracks: the Sprezzatura pop-up shop. Even for New York standards the small selection of young designers and cool brands is impressive. I had only vaguely heard of Steven Tai, a graduate from Central Saint Martins who showed his FW14 collection for the first time in London in February, and I didn’t know Etre Cecile, a slogans T-shirt line whose four creators are as anonymous as Daft Punk, and I was happily surprised to see Ostwald Helgason hanging in the neat, white space. The store is meant to stay around for a few months and become a sort of hub, with wifi and a soda cooler and space to hang out.
White shirt and midi skirt by Steven Tai; Chalkboard bag by Benedetta Bruzziches; Shoes by Roger Vivier; Green baseball cap by Stussy; Traditional Kazakh jewelry.
Photos by Marina Karpykova.