“Seek the strongest colour effect possible … the content is of no importance”
For many centuries the Silk Road was a great highway for the export of luxury goods from China to Europe. Silk, fabrics, porcelain, furs, spices, gems, carpets and other exotic goods of Asia moved along this “road” to the West. In the 19th century the Ikat fabrics from Central Asia became very popular among the traders on the Silk Road. Samarkand and Bukhara became the centres of the finest Ikat fabric production called the Han Atlas, which is a 100% percent natural hand-woven and hand-dyed fabric. Its pattern and design was an indication of luxury, power and high social status. Han-Atlas fabric is woven out of silk into a combination of bright colours, such as red, yellow and green. Traders brought Ikat fabrics to the West where they have had a unique influence on the design world ever since.
Nowadays, Ikat robes and Ikat fragments are in demand amongst textile collectors and worldwide fashion designers. The London-based leading collector and textile specialist of Central Asian Ikats, Rip Rau, first exhibited her collection of Ikats in the Victoria & Albert Museum, in London, in 2008. Her collection is the most important in the UK and one of the best in the world. It represents the extraordinary vividness and innovation of Central Asian Ikats made in the 19th century. Oscar de la Renta presented Ikat prints in his elegant spring collection during 2005. Recently the Italian designer, Gucci, created an amazing spring collection of dresses, during 2010, all of them devoted to the Ikat print. The designers Mark Jacobs and Balenciaga also didn’t miss out on the opportunity to include these gorgeous prints into their collections. It’s not only the Ikat prints that became popular among fashion designers. There is another art of urban textile, Central Asian embroidery, which has inspired fashion gurus to create extraordinary dresses. In the next issue of Open Central Asia magazine we will examine this in more detail.
Author and photos: Dinara Mamaeva