NY Fashion Week cancels show by Uzbek leader's daughter

Sun Sep 11, 2011 3:07pm EDT
 
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The organizers of New York Fashion Week have canceled a planned show by the designer daughter of Uzbekistan's leader Islam Karimov, who has been accused of human rights abuses.

Gulnara Karimova was due to present her Guli spring/summer 2012 collection on September 15 at New York Fashion Week. Karimova showed her collection at the event in September last year, but her family connections only hit the headlines this week.

Her 73-year-old father has ruled the Central Asian nation of 28 million since 1989. Human rights groups accuse the tough former Communist boss, who enjoys vast powers and brooks no dissent, of violating basic freedoms and blocking democracy.

"As a result of various concerns raised we have canceled the Guli show," a spokesman for IMG, which organizes New York Fashion Week, said in a statement.

Harvard-educated Karimova, 39, who is also Uzbekistan's ambassador to Spain and to the United Nations in Geneva, was not immediately available for comment.

A September 8 statement promoting the Guli show said it would "feature thirty looks in natural silk, organic cotton, leather embellishments, rare Uzbek fabrics such as shoi, and intricate ikat prints -- all updated with contemporary shapes and cuts."

Almost 100 designers are showing their collections for spring/summer 2012 at New York Fashion Week, which started on Thursday, and dozens more are showing at other venues around the city to coincide with the semi-annual event.

Human Rights Watch said it was glad New York Fashion Week would "no longer showcase a designer who represents such a repressive government."

"The message is clear that abusers will not be allowed to launder their image at the expense of human rights," said Steve Swerdlow, Uzbekistan researcher for Human Rights Watch. "Companies need to act to ensure they don't unwittingly end up supporting abusers again."

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

 
<p>Uzbek President Islam Karimov speaks at a news briefing after the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Tashkent June 11, 2010. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov</p>