Azerbaijan has firmly placed itself on the map and in our minds as the recent host of the 2012 Eurovison song contest. Over-the-top outfits and tacky music aside though, Azerbaijan's true cultural heritage is in its traditional folk music and ornate decorative carpet-making and other crafts.
In preserving elements of its ancient culture as well as being strongly influenced by modern Western culture, Azerbaijan is a hotbed of interesting East-meets-West architectural design and art. It's a country that sparks curiosity as few people from outside know much about it.
The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS), whose objective is to raise awareness of Azerbaijan's rich and vibrant culture, have teamed up with luxury German fashion house EDSOR of Berlin, purveyor of quality Italian silk pieces to royals, politicians and film stars since 1909, to produce the Karabakh-Azerbaijan range of ties, pocket handkerchiefs and scarves.
The Karabakh region is a beautiful and culturally significant region, home to some of Azerbaijan's most important poets, authors, artists and composers. As well as the striking colours and intricate carpet-inspired patterns, the designs feature images of the eponymous equine breed, the Karabakh racing horse.
The aim of this joint venture is to educate people in the ancient Azerbaijani culture, and show support for the Karabakh region, which is currently under threat due to the occupation of the region by neighbouring Armenia. Large numbers of Azerbaijanis have become internally-displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees and proceeds from this collection will go towards the Shusha Children's Music School in Azerbaijan, which educates children about the IDPs in order to help keep this rich culture alive.
Located in Kreuzberg, Berlin's vibrant creative hub, the EDSOR factory produces biannual collections of ties, bows, pocket squares, hand lined scarves and shawls, cashmere scarves, ascots, cummerbunds and tailor-made dressing gowns. Berlin, a city steeped in dark history but which is renowned for progressive and avant-garde art and fashion scenes, seems like the perfect setting for the traditional but up-to-date Karabakh-Azerbaijan collection; EDSOR being an ideal choice for manufacturing the range, with their emphasis on modern but timeless elegance.