Oct 1, 2009
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Chechnya seeks to become fashion capital

Oct 1, 2009

MOSCOW, Oct 1, 2009 (AFP) - Move over Paris and Milan -- the next centre of high fashion could be... Chechnya?

The war-torn Russian region will make the leap into haute couture with this month's opening of a design studio in its capital Grozny, Chechnya's eccentric strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov said in a statement released on Thursday 1 October.

Grozny, Chechnya

"The opening of this design studio is a great step forward towards the development of high fashion in the Chechen Republic," Kadyrov said during a visit to the Laura and Medni studio, quoted in the statement.

Due to open later this month, the Laura and Medni studio could become one of the largest fashion houses in southern Russia, said the statement, which was posted on the website of the Chechen regional government.

Kadyrov "attentively" toured the studio, which is run by two Chechen sisters who previously worked as designers in Moscow, the statement said.

The leader stressed that the new studio would promote the traditionally modest clothing worn by women in Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region located in the North Caucasus mountains.

"This studio can propagandize the national garb of our women, helping to preserve and strengthen Chechen traditions and customs," Kadyrov said.

Chechnya is best known as the site of two bloody separatist wars that followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, and it continues to be plagued by a low-level Islamist insurgency and suicide bombings.

The region has seen intense reconstruction efforts and increasing stability under Kadyrov's Moscow-backed government, but critics accuse him of using brutal tactics and running Chechnya as his own personal fiefdom.

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