We’re always on the lookout for the next great design. Of course, great designs don’t create themselves. Learning to craft something beautiful takes patience, time, and willingness to learn. We’re proud of all the dedicated folks out there committed to learning to do what they love. That’s part of the reason we started our UncommonGoods Scholarship program.
This time around, our scholarship team was wowed by the beauty of winner Arzu Huseynova’s fashion design. Arzu, who’s collection was inspired by Burning Man, received $1,000 to use toward continuing her education at The New School in New York, where she’s currently enrolled as a fashion design major.
We asked Arzu, who speaks four languages, to share a little more about her career aspirations, her love of fashion, and how her mom’s tailor shop inspired the collection that earned her this award. Check out our Q&A below to learn more.
Describe your background for us a bit. How do you think your surroundings and early life experiences helped shape your interest in fashion design?
The influence that fashion and clothing had on me throughout my upbringing is hard to overestimate. I witnessed the process of tailoring since I was a kid at my mother’s tailor shop. As a child, I remember two things that amazed me most: First, I found it enchanting to witness how a simple rectangular piece of fabric miraculously turns into a garment; and second, the startling transformation of those who would try on a newly sewn dress, their posture straightening, their face lighting up, as if another personality woke up in them. Today, in my everyday job of personal stylist and designer, this amazing and miraculous shift in people’s self-image holds the same enchantment and amusement as it did back in my mother’s tailor shop. I have been addicted to that feeling ever since.
When did you first learn about fashion design, and how did you decide to major in it?
I am pursuing my dream of becoming a fashion designer today, because this outstanding woman taught me my very first stitches and continues to support me every step of the way. With the dedication and discipline she put into every stitch, she taught me in her simple way that if I put my heart to anything, I could achieve it. Growing under a mother who loved creating beauty inspired me to devote my talents to making the world a little more beautiful every day.
In fashion design, the line between reality and imagination is as thin as it can be. I believe I can change the world with this super power. It is my dream to create fashion and clothing that does not just make the world a little more beautiful with every stitch, but [also] puts smiles on people’s faces. I want to help people around the world, especially women like myself, express themselves better with fashion. My works as a fashion designer in development have been inspired by the adventure of my experiences with the diverse cultures of more than 20 countries, and the rich history of my homeland [Baku, Azerbaijan and then Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia]. I know first-hand the incredible strength and barriers women around the world have to overcome. As a fashion designer, I want to help and mentor aspiring young ladies with stories like mine, battling the odds of poverty to fulfill their dreams of becoming fashion designers. I am confident a course in Fashion Design is a first step in the right direction.
Do you have a favorite artist or designer whose work has influenced your own?
I admire and get inspired by many designers, but Alexander McQueen and Christian Dior had the most impression on me. Two completely opposite points of view, personalities and spirits, I believe, connect to inner personalities in me. I think everyone has this conflicting sides to themselves.
Describe the creation of this collection. What was your inspiration?
As per Burning Man collection named “Mirage,” I wanted to show just how today’s modern woman of the East can break free of her constraints and reveal her inner spirit. It was the first time when Eastern inspiration is brought to the deserts of Burning Man. The deserts of Burning Man summoned colors in my imagination. I was inspired by the women of the East, who were restricted of any kind of freedom for centuries. As you know, freedom is the soul of the Burning Man Festival. I couldn’t find a better place to set those women’s spirits free than endless deserts of Playa.
Do you believe that design can be a force for good in the world? If so, how?
I am convinced that fashion and design can be a force for good, because I am one of those people who thinks that beauty can save the world. Garments we put on are not just functional pieces, those today make statement. I know for a fact that fashion is not just about looking good and being dressed up. It has an immense influence on people’s self image, and self esteem, therefore on their behavior and input they bring to the world.
The more people feel better and happier to see themselves in the mirror, the more positive results we can see in society. I understand that it may sound ambitious and maybe even dreamy. This is from results I have witnessed with my clientele, especially those who came for make-over and completely changed their wardrobes, hair styles, and [overall] appearance. Some got better jobs, some found relationships, some opened to life and began enjoying instead of existing. But every single one of them experienced intense changes for the better.
Was that just serendipity or coincidence? I don’t know. What if it is not?
Now that you’ve won the scholarship, look into your crystal ball… as best you can, anyway. Where do you see yourself after graduation?
I have a big dream one day send down the runway my designs for Dior’s House. I will work as hard as it takes to get to become a creative director of Dior one day.