Fashion Week in Almaty

Sometimes it is very hard to convey the realities of Central Asia. People can just about get the idea of what remote parts of Mongolia are like– they like the idea of “primitive”.

But what about Almaty? It is a huge modern city with tree- lined boulevards and excellent restaurants and cyber- cafes, situated in the green foothills beween 14,000 foot peaks and steppes like the plains of Wyoming. It is inhabited by Kazakhs and Russians living in enviable harmony (and often intermarrying), Germans, Moslems, Orthodox Christians and Orthodox Jews. What’s more, as a Russian friend says, “you can take public transport to snow leopards”.

And the town is inhabited, thronged, by incredibly beautiful and stylish women. Everyone in the US seems to think Central Asian women look like East German Athletes or Stalinist WW II vets– it ain’t so! Renato Sala, an irreverent Italian archaeologist based in Almaty, once said to us through clouds of Gauloise smoke that ” Kazakhstan has the MOST beautiful women– Stalin or Chingizz or somebody must have killed all the ugly ones!” Only an Italian.

Dress is interesting too. Libby thought to bring “Cover Up” clothes in deference to both what we thought were local mores and to the season, but it was still hot (early September) and the local women were dressed in bare midriffs and slit skirts and very high heels.

So, catching up on the usually serious Registan, I was delighted to see this hilarious post from Nathan last month. I think that the one that he describes as owing something to pre- teen D & D players– the one with the tall covered headress and the less modest “body”– might owe something to the Golden “Man”. (Doctor Jeannine Davis- Kimball says he is a she).

Sorry for the image quality of the G. M.— the only photo available wouldn’t load, and this one is a Kazakh kid’s drawing.

Nasyma Raybayevna
(Above image: Our friend Nasyma Raybayevna, who is studying business in Almaty and has lived in London, with a berkut. Photo by Wolfgang Regar– or, as he is known in Almaty, “Regarbayev”.)

9 thoughts on “Fashion Week in Almaty”

  1. This is my favorite. Sort of a Cross-Your-Heart KKK Victoria’s Secret
    She needs the next size up.
    But don’t they have zippers? Velcro?
    And that wad of Mylar coated plastic cleaning bag around her arm–
    a bit threatening. As a matter of fact, she’s downright scary.

    I am posting this from an email from Annie D, who says she cannot get in. Will check…

  2. Steve. Thanks for the report on Fashion Week in Almaty. Great to get some word on and _of_ Renato. It has been too many years since we hung together in and out of Bangkok. Do you keep close contact with him? Kindly convey my best regards next time you meet. All the best!

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  4. It is really interesting to learn new stuff about places you’d sort of formed a mental image of. Mongloia always conjures up images of remote primitive villages but yor blog has put informed me otherwise. Of course i should’ve been looking for hospital chairs rather than reading your blog but hey, it’s friday.


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