Almighty Almaty — Ravenous Days & Wild Nights by Robb Young

AIKA ALEMI, S/S 14 designed by Aika Jaxybai (photo by Yan Ray)

About eight years ago, Diane and I took one of our most frisky, memorable "double trouble" trips to Kazakhstan.  As some of the first international fashion folks to touch down in the country, we were the first daring double-act from abroad to run the gauntlet of local designer gear as it swish-swashed down the Almaty catwalks.  Needless to say, a lot has changed since then.  Almaty today is a bigtime boomtown and on the express-lane toward more serious style vistas. This week, I was lucky enough to be invited back by the founders of the Kazakhstan Fashion Institute, Sima Rozikova & Zhanel Bertayeva, to see with my own eyes just how fast and just how far things have come along.


If the Aika Alemi brand is anything to go by, creative things really can and do happen at lightning speed in Kazakhstan today. Aika Jaxybai, who has held high-flying executive roles for multinational companies around the world and moonlights/daylights as a film producer among a myriad other artistic roles, only bought her first sewing machine a couple years ago.  Already, she's being tapped as the country's first designer with the talent and tenacity to make it big abroad — endorsements from key international buyers are coming thick and fast to prove it.  This season, Aika used deceptively complex reversible patchwork strips
and quilted textures in effortlessly elegant contours of what Diane
herself might call a "shaded view on white" — a pristine palette ranging from snow, clouds and mist to the