This collection has been inspired by amulets of the Silk Road. While today travel is considered to be a leisurely activity, historically travel was for the adventurous few willing to take risks for the prospects of fortune, conquering lands or carrying important messages from east to west and vice versa. Embarking on long and unsafe expeditions, travelers carried amulets to protect themselves from the dangers and misfortune of the long journey ahead. Amulets came in different shapes and materials but were generally small, portable and were worn close to the skin and body.
THE HAMSA HAND: An ancient Middle Eastern amulet symbolizing the Hand of God, the Hamsa Hand (also referred to as hand of Fatima) is believed by Jews, Christians and Muslims, to provide defense against the evil eye. In all faiths it is a protective sign and brings its owner happiness, luck, health, and good fortune.
EVIL EYE: The symbol and superstition of the evil eye is one of the strongest symbolic images in the world. The evil eye is thought of as a look given to inflict harm, suffering, or some form of bad luck. The superstition of the evil eye holds that the malicious look is powerful enough to bring about actual disaster for the unfortunate person that is the receiver of the glare. The most popular method of escaping the evil eye’s effects is by the use of evil eye talismans and jewelry. These are meant to “reflect” the power of the evil look. The evil eye amulet originated in Greece, where it was known as an “apotropaic” amulet, meaning that it reflected harm.
ESFAND SEEDS: known as “uzerlik” in Azerbaijani, is a dried plant that is often strung in the homes and vehicles to protect against the evil eye. Esfand seeds were used to ward off evil in Zoastrian Azerbaijan. It is also used as an incense to purify the air as well as the mind, a common practice in homes of Azerbaijan today.
OWLS: have historically been connected with the wisdom of the soul. Owls are often seen as mysterious, mostly because many owls are strictly nocturnal and humans have always found night to be full of mystery and the unknown.
A scarf can symbolize protection, and is a modern interpretation of an amulet. Scarves protect us from the sun, wind and the cold and are worn close to sensitive parts of the body, such as the skin, head and neck. Embelished with strong protective symbols, scarves from the Amulet collection protect and provide comfort to its owner through bad weather, travel and hardships. The color palette references earth notes and spices found on the silk road – shades of olive, saffron, brown, burgundy, scarlet, and ochre.
This collection has been inspired by beautiful patterns on Guba carpets dating from 1850 in Azerbaijan. Carpets were coded symbols that serve as a direct window from history’s memory into the future.
The reflections of a certain historical geographical religious and philosophical way of thinking characteristic of that period is seen on carpets through symbols and extraordinary color. Carpet designs have been selected and carved out of wood and manually transferred onto silk and dyed using natural dyes for this collection of handmade kelagayis.
Inspired by summer vacations by the Caspian sea in the late 80s this collection of handmade scarves utilizes colors that go well with swimwear. Reminiscing childhood memories during the USSR, the designer tried to translate her emotions of that time period into this collection. Referencing nautical prints and old family photographs with her father’s Volga, her mothers fashion accessories and picnicking on the beach this collection is intended to be fun and light. Round shapes, large patterns and repetition have been used to create dynamic and bold prints.
Word from the designer:
“We always focus on our ancient heritage and this time I wanted to look at our recent history and not forget that we were part of the USSR because it adds a curious twist to our identity. I am also interested in transformations. Traditionally kelagayis are designed using ethnic prints and designs that have been reproduced for centuries. In the last collection we used carpet motifs and took one step forward in modernizing them. The caviar and fish prints this season are intended to bring in humor and something fun. I remember the days when caviar was served in a glass jar and was fed to us as a source of vitamin with bread and butter for breakfast. Large polka dots, red colors and stripes have a retro feeling to me and remind me of my mother’s closet when I was a kid. Everything looked large and colorful as a child so I tried to recreate that feeling of exaggeration in this collection.”
The first collection by Menzer Hajiyeva for men has been inspired by ancient petroglyphs found at Gobustan* national reserve. A combination of classic styles and prints, the color palette is mainly compromised of cool blues and grays with accents of warm pink and brown. Hunting scenes from Gobustan have been integrated into the prints in a subtle way for a refined look. Items in this collection are unique or available in limited quantities. Using Italian silks, each piece has been handmade in Azerbaijan in our atelier.
*Gobustan has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for outstanding universal value of its rock art engravings, for the substantial evidence the collection of rock art images presents for hunting, fauna, flora and lifestyles in pre-historic times. Petroglyphs consist of rocks engraved with symbols. They are the most ancient method of carrying and sharing information invented by humans.
Traditionally kelagayis were worn by women of the region as headpieces – “kel” in the root of the word means head. Scarves or kelagayis were markers of status or an event, where colors and motifs told a story: red was worn for bridal ceremonies and black for funerals or by older women.
Dating its roots to tradition it is still customary in modern day Azerbaijan for the groom to gift a silk scarf or kelagayi to his fiancée with the engagement ring.
This collection is inspired by the beauty of love and the joy that preparation for a wedding brings. Lush flowers and delicate lace are a timeless reflection of the eternal beauty of love. A color palette of crème colors, pinks, purples, light blue and wasabi green have been chosen by the designer for a fresh and romantic bridal mood.
For outdoor weddings, the right shawl to drape around the shoulders of the mother of the bride or bridesmaids will complement their style and contribute to the overall ambiance of the evening.
It is an ancient Azerbaijani tradition for the groom to gift a silk scarf together with the engagement ring to his beloved fiancée. A beautiful tradition, this is still customary in modern Azerbaijan. Instead of using it as a veil, modern brides use it as a stylish accessory to incorporate into their daily looks to express their individuality and style.