Fashion designers in Azerbaijan are often influenced by the country’s nature and landscapes. Khayala Asadova founded Uventa in 2012, and since then the brand has been showcasing Baku fashion on the global stage at international Fashion Weeks. Here, Asadova shares the story of the house with Maria Webster
Baku: Can you tell us how Uventa started?
Khayala Asadova: From an early age I was interested in fashion and dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. However, I ended up getting an education in a completely different field. But the principle of “yours won’t get away from you” has played a significant role in my life. Everything started ‘innocuously’ – with advice on choosing outfits for girlfriends and loved ones. Later I moved from advice to action, ordering dresses for them from seamstresses according to my own style. At some point I realised, without realising it, that I was achieving my childhood dream. The time for the next step had come – I opened an atelier for tailoring, which initially worked solely for its own needs – for myself and a circle of my girlfriends. However, the quality of the products and original designs quickly became a talking point for more and more ladies, and the atelier became popular and had a wider and wider clientele. I never wanted to stop there. In 2016 I transformed the atelier into a full-fledged brand with its ready-to-wear collections, which Uventa immediately showcased on the runway of Azerbaijan Fashion Week.
Baku: Have you done any shows on the international stage?
KA: Yes, following the show at the national Fashion Week, our confident march through the international Fashion Weeks began. In 2017, Uventa presented Azerbaijan at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Moscow. In 2018, we showed our couture collection at the Oriental Fashion Show in Paris, making a lasting impression on the audience. Our recognition on the international stage has also increased with our participation in Kazakhstan Fashion Week and Dubai Fashion Week. In January 2020, we showed our next couture collection with intricate hand embroidery in Paris. The collection was a combination of Eastern and Western style aesthetics. At the awards ceremony organised by the Oriental Fashion Show, held at UNESCO House, Uventa was even awarded a special prize for its 2020 collection and for achievements in the fashion industry as a whole. It was a significant event for us, and for all of Azerbaijan. Recently we returned from Georgia, where we presented our current Spring-Summer 2023 collection during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi, which garnered a lot of enthusiastic feedback from Georgian fashion personalities.
Baku: Where does the brand name originate from?
KA: In the beginning, the atelier I set up was part of an entire complex for women, where in addition to sewing the dress of your dreams, you could spend time in the beauty salon and spa, undergo a series of rejuvenating treatments, and get your body in shape in the fitness room. The complex needed to come up with a name that would combine all aspects of the establishment. First of all, a logo with angel wings was created. I’ve been collecting angel figurines since my childhood and used to buy them, I even had a wing-shaped pendant hanging around my neck. The visual identity I chose made it easy to find a suitable name, with mythology as the main source of inspiration. It was decided to name the complex after the angel of youth, Juventa. The unusual phonetic sound as well as the embedded meaning were so popular with everyone that the name was retained by the fashion house even after the complex closed, when I decided to focus all my attention solely on the fashion sector.
Baku: What is the main fashion focus for Uventa?
KA: At the moment, the House of Uventa creates mainly women’s outfits along two lines – couture and pret-a-porter. We believe that the global fashion business has changed a lot over the past few years, and most fashion houses focus too much on monetising their products. For us, however, the basis for each catwalk collection is first and foremost creativity and a desire to show the world our ideas and original vision. A casual line with more democratic prices is intended to expand the audience and allow a wider range of people to dress in our outfits. Uventa clothes are a model of sophistication and style, but with a challenge and even a certain amount of provocation.
Baku: Who are Uventa’s customers?
KA: Our collections are designed for all those who are not afraid to be different, and who like to combine styles such as chic and sport in one image. Uventa’s customers are girls and women aged 18 to 50 from various social backgrounds and interests, all of whom want to look stylish and different from the rest. At the same time, we also offer bespoke looks for men as well. We consider this point essential in order to use the full range of techniques available. For example, I like to add a touch of masculinity to certain women’s outfits, which gives the resulting image a strength of character.
Baku: What makes Uventa different and how are you showcasing Uventa’s unique points throughout your branding statements and visual identity?
KA: The differences are enormous! For example, since its opening, the House has worked with the world’s leading fabric manufacturers from France, Italy, Dubai and Turkey. Some fabrics are created exclusively for Uventa using special designs, such as hand-embroidered fabrics from India. Uventa models are also replete with various unusual accessories (such as the flexible spine from the Spring/Summer 2023 collection), which are also created by third-party manufacturers exclusively for our brand, making our collections unique and unlike any other brand’s products.
The Uventa fashion house is also a role model for a host of younger brands that have recently been increasingly appearing in the Azerbaijani market. We believe that the success of our brainchild is not possible in isolation from the development of the entire fashion industry of the country. To this end, we have established Baku Fashion Academy, the main aim of which is to transfer the experience of leading fashion specialists to a younger generation with an interest in the field.
Baku: Where do you stock your collections?
KA: We currently have four showrooms in Baku – Stock, Freedom Concept Store, Which and our showroom. In addition, we have three outlets in Istanbul – Nişantaşı, Zorlu and Emaar Square Mall. Very soon we will also have a showroom in Moscow. We are currently finalising negotiations about it. And after our participation in Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi we have received a proposal of purchasing our collections in one of the boutiques of Tbilisi, which we are considering. We are also interested in presenting our collections in the Middle East – Dubai, Qatar, etc., and we will actively work in this direction in the near future.
Baku: What are your upcoming plans?
KA: Among our plans for the future a special place belongs to the creation of the first collection of accessories, bags and shoes, which we will start creating soon. And the next big project, which aims to have a positive impact on the entire fashion industry of the country, will be the creation of Baku Fashion Week, which we were inspired to create by our participation in international fashion weeks. We will use all the experience we’ve gained from our overseas shows to create a new, modern venue for us to showcase our own collections as well as those of other local brands, for which support is an important part of our operations.
Online Editor: Candice Tucker