While publicists and security guards at fashion shows often seem like dictators, Gulnara Karimova, who is set to show her line Guli at Lincoln Center on September 15, is the daughter of an actual, murderous, dictator--and human rights activists are none too pleased that her clothes are hitting the runways.
Karimova is daughter of Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov (he's famous for boiling an enemy alive). She has been linked to the Russian mob, and labor rights activists have charged that she and her father are responsible for the enforced labor of children in cotton fields, the New York Post is reporting. She's also been a pop singer (stage name Googoosha) and done a jewelry collaboration with Chopard, according to an April profile in the Telegraph and a 2010 article on HuffPo, respectively.
She's not so beloved in the world of politics and human rights, but this is the second time she's showing at New York fashion week--she showed in September 2010, too. Her line, Guli, is established in Europe and she's shown at Milan in the past. IMG reps told the Post, "We’re horrified by the human-rights abuses in Uzbekistan, and hope that the attention Human Rights Watch generates is able to effect change in the country. We also hope to work hand-in-hand with Human Rights Watch during Fashion Week and beyond to challenge those in power in Uzbekistan to take action immediately.” IMG isn't canceling the show.
The International Labor Rights Forum is planning to stage its own fashion show outside of Lincoln Center during the controversial designer's show. A rep from the Forum told the Post, “Models will include local college students who will be wearing T-shirts and costumes illustrating the link between the fashion industry and forced child labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry." According to the group's website, Karimov uses Uzbek cotton in her line. The group hopes to bring attention to the country's child labor practices, in hopes that the US garment industry will stop buying Uzbek cotton. (Macy's, the Gap, Wal-Mart, and H&M have already stopped buying from the controversial country.)
Should Karimov be allowed to show, or should NYFW organizers take a stand?