Asian Woman – April 2007
A Stitch in Time
For Karina Duebner clothes are memories of past times. With the rich culture of Central Asia being her muse, it looks like we’ll be harking back in time this season, writes Shaheda Choudhury.
It’s widely understood that fashion is fickle, with new names cropping up every season hustling to make something of themselves. But although you may not have heard of Karina Duebner she has been quietly turning heads since the launch of her label Tamerlane’s Daughters in 2004. The designer’s biography is equally as auspicious and fascinating as her collection of ready-to-wear and bespoke garments. The half-German, half-Kazakh designer, part-time Islamic arts journalist and onetime investment banker, grew up between Central Asia and Europe. She has lived in Berlin, New York, Moscow and London and has travelled to more than fifty countries for inspiration. And if that wasn’t enough, she is reportedly a direct descendent of the ancient Mongol ruler Genghis Khan.
Duebner’s collections are as nomadic and culturally rich as she is. With an aesthetically bohemian mood, she plunders 19th century imperial Samarkand and produces opulent textiles such as antique velvets and taffetas embroidered with sparkling thread and gold filigree, which she re-works into modern garments with outstanding results. Furthermore, she incorporates precious 19th century artefacts such as amulets and pendants that are guaranteed to give your closet a real taste of luxury and individuality. Not to mention a hefty investment for the future – a definite ‘must have’ for collectors and vintage lovers.
Duebner’s clothes are an entirely different breed in comparison to well known fashion houses and their seasonal ethnic stints. Her cultural fusion of 19th century East meets 21st century West gives an air of authenticity and grandeur to her vast range of day-to-evening wear, from a reversible cape of shaved rabbit fur, lined with 19th century silk embroidery from Tajikistan, to the mesmerising silk satin dress featuring a gilded 19th century amulet for when you want to look and feel like a goddess.
Couture and antiquity has never been so accessible.