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PAUSE Round-Up: VFW Almaty’s Ones to Watch

PAUSE Round-Up:

VFW Almaty’s Ones to Watch

Kazakhstan’s New Wave.

 If you’ve been picking your head up in recent years, the occasional indifference towards the “big four” of fashion weeks – ranging from Paris and London to New York and Milan – has been palpable, with the fashion industry looking further afield for more cutting-edge and mostly under-the-radar creative visions. Welcome, VFW Almaty.

Kazakhstan’s fashion scene is one that has grown significantly in recent years, with its central Asian location leaving a lot up to the imagination for the average fashion follower. Pulling in many different creative directions, VFW Almaty takes place in its namesake city, with the event having occupied the south-eastern metropolis between May 1-3 to bring forward flavours from all around its surrounding areas, as well as from many of its resident designers. Touching down in the country’s fast-growing mega-city, I almost immediately felt this sense of urgency, excitement, and edge from both creatives and organisers in and around the buzz of VFW Almaty, looking to introduce me to every single aspect of what the event – and its designers – had to offer.

Whether it’s their unwavering passion for runway storytelling, an affection for underlining central Asian narratives, combatting current societal topics, or pedestaling body positivity, VFW Almaty did what many other respective fashion weeks fail to do, which is to be distinctive. No copies, rehashing, or mimics of what other worldwide designers laid out before them. VFW Almaty was a testament to the region and a love letter to what makes Kazakhstan such a place to cherish and ultimately, champion.

Providing a helping hand in running down everything VFW Almaty showed off earlier this month, PAUSE have narrowed down some of the names you need to be plugged in with moving forward. From literal tents as outerwear and 3-D make-up, to Kazakhstan colour schemes and hand-shaped headwear, VFW Almaty’s designers pulled out all the stops.

Check out PAUSE’s top five designers below.

#5: Assem Sapargali

PHOTO CREDIT: Timur Epov

NDA winner Assem Sapargali proved to be a fan favourite come show night, and it quickly became apparent as to why that was. A distinct affection for movement shone throughout both the show and collection, underlining Sapargali’s championing of both showmanship and subtlety of craft. Everything from braided hair being suspended and connected in mid-air and multi-layered, flowing silhouettes to Inuit-inspired goggles filled out a collection that had a very specific and streamlined design vision. The horizon looks promising for Sapargali.

#4: Rassul Social & Abzal Seidin

PHOTO CREDIT: Timur Epov

An ode to Kazakhstan’s love for storytelling, Rassul Social x Abzal Seidin told a tale of loss and hardship, with the opening walk depicting a small child picking up after a distraught figure, setting the tone for a pulsating set of looks. Stumbling across the runway and traversing what was left behind from the opening walk, the rest of the models instinctively moved with their looks, exacerbating the central design highlights by flaunting extreme make-up design, tasseled overcoats, and a plethora of multidimensional outerwear, all the while engaging directly with audience members. Seeming to transcend runway stereotypes altogether, Rassul Social x Abzal Seidin’s joint effort managed to toe the line between performance and runway display with seeming ease. A marvel.

#3: Qanaker

PHOTO CREDIT: Timur Epov

Thematically, Qanaker ruled over the week. Intertwining fashion with the political and social landscapes of respective countries has always been a difficult feat, but Qanaker did so with class and grace. A show dedicated to highlighting the trauma and reality of women’s domestic abuse in Kazakstan among other historical issues, the brand’s latest runway show again utilised movement, make-up and theatre to help their latest creative endeavour put across its point plainly. Taking the socio-political circumstances in their stride, Qanaker’s latest took from historical cues and reference points to continue to develop the reality of their highlighted issue, bruising and bloodying models in tandem with finely-tailored garments and laced looks to rubber-stamp this historical tint.

#2: Zhsaken x Akmaral Collection

PHOTO CREDIT: Timur Epov

Taking the first day of VFW Almaty by storm, Zhsaken x Akmaral proved to be a display that was aptly placed in the show calendar, acting as a warm welcome to Kazakhstan. Putting forth a metaphorical handshake, Zhsaken x Akmaral’s joint effort laid the foundations of what Kazakh fashion represented whilst playing with heritage patterns, Kazakh colour schemes, and most importantly: flowers. From handing them out to designers at the conclusion of their show to them being scattered across a plethora of pieces, I quickly noticed an adoration of flowers as VFW Almaty went on, with Zhsaken x Akmaral’s range being the most consistent utiliser of them. A mixture of mens and womenswear made sure to cater to everybody, whilst shades of blue and yellow acted as a not so subtle nod to Kazakhstan’s striking national flag, most notably through a pair of arm length blue leather gloves and a spacious yellow floral dress. A victory lap for Kazakhstan’s fashion scene.

#1: fuzzz

PHOTO CREDIT: Timur Epov

Despite the extensive competition in this latest dose of VFW Almaty, fuzzz took things to new heights this season as they debuted action-ready pieces that defied pre-determined fashion codes, and if you’ve ever wanted to literally wear a tent, here’s your chance. This “INDUSTRIAL OUTDOOR” range puts forward a determined, direct, and provocative take on “Gorpcore” coded outdoor wear by wildly oversizing sling bags and dropping cargo pants – both of which drag along the runway floor – as well as adapting a literal tent and making it wearable. This painted picture might not exactly tell the full story, as what is most impressive about fuzzz’s striking garments is their wearability and practicality, with the youthful brand perfectly striking that balance between what is absurd and what is, well, genius. A tactical design base doesn’t prohibit the brand from exploring other outdoor angles, with Flying Sheepskin Coats and Uniform Shirts being just as prominent as heritage outdoor wear stylings such as elongated parka jackets and Desert Caps. Fuzzz are most definitely destined for greatness.

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