Edita reports | Is Fashion Freedom?

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I have been toying around with the idea of seeing Baku for a very long while. After hearing my mum’s Azeri escapades my desire to see Azerbaijan only grew stronger. Here’s why:

E: I want to go to Baku.
Mother: Child, in Baku’s finest restaurants, I was escorted out with security and using only underground exits!
E: You have a pop star past that I am not aware of?
Mother: No, there were lines of admirers outside. Fans of my face and blonde hair, to be exact.

I then facepalmed to the power of blonde hair in what was Soviet Azerbaijan at that time.

We then moved on to deepen my obsession with going to Baku for the arts, food and fashion. It’s no secret that I am captivated by traditional Azeri dress and jewellery.

While all of this travel lust was scrambled in my head – trust me I only voiced this compulsion to my mother – I got the most peculiar invitation. What are the odds that I was invited to celebrate Azeri arts by visiting an exhibition of photography by Alexandra Kremer-Khomassouridze?

The exhibition was called Faces of Freedom and displayed a simple concept: Portraits of women, three each, one without any veils, one with a hijab and one with a niqab.

Alexandra admitted that taking these images changed her and it changed her models. Some women came in dreading the fact that they would need to pose in a hijab, others shed tears at the idea of taking the scarf off. While photographed, the women were discussing what freedom meant to them.
Faces of Freedom

Back at the gallery, Alexandra observed me observing her works. I admit, I tend to look at art with the curious eyes of a child. We started talking about the reason why she felt the topic of freedom of expression was important to her. She told me about her personal test, trying to go hijabi for some time. Her findings shocked her. She wasn’t expecting to feel safe or secure. But that’s what she felt. She felt a different kind of freedom but that’s because she could take it off and pop it back on as she pleased.

Initially before going to the exhibition I assumed I had a pretty good idea what freedom meant. But as I write this, in a horribly crowded train barely able to move, I am not so sure anymore. Granted, I can wear a scarf or twenty at a time if I want but does that make me free? This led me to think that fashion or being a master of your appearance isn’t freedom – nor should it. I see it as a birthright or entitlement – one of the components of freedom but not freedom itself.

A free person can wake up and do whatever the hell he wants. Or not wake up – he’s free, isn’t he? A free person can wear whatever he wants or nothing at all. Who’s to say he is insane? Freedom is no boundaries, no restrictive opinions. In a sense, being free is living in a personally comfortable chaos.

I kept on picturing myself as Alexandra’s model and I was imagining ways to rock all three looks and in my head I did. That’s only because it happened in my imagination. In our own alternative universes we all are free. Just not in the real world where we’re forced to define what freedom is; that in essence automatically makes us captives.

Can you imagine yourself in these pictures?

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26 Comments

  1. I can definitely see myself in these pictures. Fashion allows us to feel free in how we express ourselves through clothing. Whether we’re veiled or not, doesn’t change the fact that we’re free to make those choices. It’s society that’s carved out this distinction that if you’re veiled and fully covered you are somehow oppressed. How can you possibly define freedom in terms of fashion? It’s ludicrous.

    I love Alexandra’s thought process here, which completely refutes what society says and reveals freedom in its truest form.

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  2. These images gave me a very strange feeling… They made me think how much our opinion about a person can change depending on what we see before our eyes… The entire face or just the eyes, or no eyes… The very same woman can be perceived like three absolutely different people! It’s odd and hard to explain. And also a bit mind-blowing to realise how something so simple can change so much. x

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  3. What an interesting exhibit! Is it coming to NY? Yes is interesting to know that is some countries were women are forced to be veiled that there are…wait for it…female flashers! And they do it for similar reasons that male flashers do it in the west. Interesting.

    Allie of ALLIENYC
    allienyc.com

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  4. This was so compelling and thought provoking. Some great ideas about what makes one truly free, but for many it think it ourselves that hold us captive, but of course, I man places that I have not been brutal repression reigns. But it is interesting, one can no know what represses them until one walks in their shoes, or wears their head coverings.
    xx, Elle
    http://mydailycostume.com/

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  5. These pictures are very strong and thought provoking. To me fashion is freedom, but it’s also something that limits you in a way – whether you are muslim or not – which is not necessarily a bad thing. We all dress to meet society’s expectations to some extent, but these limitations also give us freedom, paradoxically. Loved this post.

    Bella Pummarola

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  6. Edita this was an absolutely brilliant, brilliant post. The idea of self-representation/freedom in fashion is something I’ve actually thought about quite a bit. However, in my opinion your closing statement basically sums up everything perfectly–

    “In our own alternative universes we all are free. Just not in the real world where we’re forced to define what freedom is; that in essence automatically makes us captives.”

    Your thoughts are so interesting, would definitely love to see more posts like this one!

    XxMO
    madame-ostrich.com

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  7. Freedom is always an interesting topic to think and talk about. I agree with you that the fact that we have to define freedom makes us captives. It’s hard to define freedom in the context of fashion, because it’s so culture bound. Each culture looks upon clothes in a different way I think.
    But it’s important to realize that as you say, fashion is a part of freedom, but not the only thing.

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  8. This is amazing! We have so many freedoms we don’t even begin to appreciate. Even when these women chose to wear these garments, they can be opening themselves up for a lot of abuse and prejudices. Something we know nothing a bout really. Very moving this xx

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  9. This is an incredibly thought-provoking post, particularly the background of the models used and their feeling upon entering the photoshoot – each dreading it for different reasons!

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice

    x

    Reply
  10. These are very good pictures. I remember in Bangkok, having a similar experience – people staring at you simply because you are blond and foreign.. but you have to be further away from the city centre. In the centre everything was very normal, like the Western tourist attractions, except for ridiculous heat…
    http://www.minsbeautyequipment.com

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  11. Freedom is something that can be defined in so many different ways, depending on where you are from and what you have learned. I find the question about freedom very interesting. What I also find interesting about this exhibition is how much our opinion can change just by looking at someones clothes. We tend to feel sorry for a muslim who is covered up, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t feel comfortable in their clothing. A very strong and amazing exhibition.

    https://trocimal.wordpress.com/

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