Uzbekistan: Gulnara Stages a Subdued Style.uz
Cancelled in New York at Fashion Week and forced to another venue, a subdued Gulnara Karimova, daughter of Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov, staged her style.uz fashion and art week at home with less fanfare than previous years.
British auctioneer Edward Rising did preside, however, over a style.uz auction co-sponsored by Christie's.
Perhaps the lower profile is because the United Kingdom has been stung recently by the Uzbek authorities? Oxus, a British gold-mining firm was forced to out of business, its assets essentially seized and chief engineer sentenced to prison, and the UK Embassy's press secretary was sentenced for associating with outspoken human rights defenders.
Maybe it's just prudence -- or preoccupation with hosting the Olympics?
While the British Council remained a sponsor of style.uz, the British embassy's press releases ignored style.uz this month, and focused instead on a meeting of the British second secretary with Uzbekistan’s Gymnastics Team prior to the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The UK embassy site also featured the British report on "countries of concern" for poor human rights practices, which include Uzbekistan. The report notes "little sign of progress" with negative developments like the closure of the Human Rights Watch office and the sentencing of Leonid Kudravtsev, the Britisn press secretary, although a few political prisoners were fined instead of imprisoned and the European Union opened up its representative office in Tashkent.
The glitterati at Gulnara's gala this year covered by the international press only seemed to be Russian film industry leaders. There were also some famous European firms that sponsored events: Chopard, the Swiss-based watch and jewelry maker; Yves Saint Laurent, the French fashion label, Italy’s Ermanno Scervino fashion brand and Piaget the French jewelry company.
During Art Week, Italian pop star Eros Ramazzotti gave a charity concert for women with breast cancer, but he didn't do any duets with GooGoosha, as Gulnara dubs herself when performing -- unlike Julio Iglesias last year.
Kithe Brewster, the American celebrity stylist, gave a master class and showed footage of his work at New York Fashion week (where Gulnara wasn't). Other participants included Ennio Morricone, a renowned composer, Hollywood b-movie villain Matthias Hues, and French comics artist Alexandre Clerisse.
The German Goethe Institute was also among the sponsors as were Russia's MTS and Beeline mobile phone companies.
The week's events and a banquet dinner were designed to raise money for Gulnara's charity, the Forum Fund, and it's not known if any of the stars present received fees for their appearances, as has been the case at past galas, nor how transparently and appropriately the money raised is spent.