BY REBECA SCHILLER
Making a Difference with Style
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is abuzz, and it all has to with an award-winning fashion designer with a social conscience from Kyrgyzstan. Starting December 10th, a pop-up store in downtown Jackson will feature the designs of Aidai Asangulova, and officially launch her fashion line in the United States. But it’s not all about the clothes: this introduction shows how fashion, design and social responsibility can fuse together to make a better world.
Recognized for her elegant line of hand-rolled silk-and-felt scarves, Aidai Asangulova was born and raised in Kyrgyzstan to a family of yurt makers. Felt-making has always been part of Aidai’s life, and later while working as an artist in Bishkek, she developed a unique technique that fuses felt and silk in her creations.
Aidai’s beautiful work benefits not only her employees (sheep growers and makers of hand-woven silk) and vendors, but also her native village. She is investing a portion of her earnings toward the creation of a women’s handicraft cooperative and the construction of a shop for the sale of goods made by women in her village. Using traditional felting techniques, Aidai helps keep alive her country’s cultural artisan heritage. Her fashion line, AIDAI, also benefits its partners in the United States as a sustainable business venture and a source of earned income for non-profit programs. Finally, she brings exquisite clothes and accessories to women who appreciate beautiful things.
The launch of AIDAI in the United States is being produced by Vista 360° in collaboration with a new Jackson Hole company called High Design–dedicated to promote the work of talented young designers from mountain regions around the world. The initial focus will be on marketing and brand development for small artist-led businesses in the developing world. The principle partners of High Design are Claire Fuller, Saxon Koch, Nona Yehia and Candra Day. Vista 360°, their non-profit partner, is dedicated to fostering cooperation among mountain people around the world to help preserve mountain traditions, strengthen communities and protect mountain places.
Vista 360° has been working with Aidai and other artists and women’s cooperatives in Kyryzstan since 2005. Joining with Aidai’s design studio in Bishkek, BUKON STUDIO, this partnership aims to launch Aidai’s work on a national scale, starting in Jackson Hole. The fourth partner in this venture is today’s enlightened customer, who appreciates the connection between beautiful design and social benefits.
Candra Day, Founder of Vista 360°, explains the collaboration, “We envision a world in which people feel closely connected to one another through design and recognize their interdependence in every facet of life; a world in which talented, committed people from poor regions of the world have the same opportunities — and possibilities for Great Good Luck — as their colleagues in the wealthy regions of the world; and a world in which everyone has an opportunity to make contributions toward creating a better future by buying, wearing, enjoying and appreciating beautiful, hand-made things.”
The AIDAI Pop-Up Store will be open from 11:00 to 7:30 each day for five days, from December 9th through December 13th at 120 W. Pearl Street in downtown Jackson. The opening party will take place on Thursday, December 9th, beginning at 7:00. There will be a series of afternoon entertainments, called THE WISDOM OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS, including hands-on design workshops and conversations with designers and fashionistas offered from 4:30 to 6:00 on December 10, 11, 12 and 13. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, please call 413-5847.