So long, torture victims. Hello, fashion victims!
The pampered daughter of the murderous dictator of Uzbekistan -- a reviled tyrant who once boiled a political foe alive and has killed, tortured and enslaved thousands of his countrymen -- will unveil her new line of spring creations during Fashion Week at Lincoln Center, the New York Post reported.
And human-rights advocates say Gulnara “GooGoosha” Karimova -- a high ranking official in her father’s government once bluntly described by US diplomats as “the single most-hated person in the country” -- should not be given the privilege of a prestigious Sept. 15 runway show given her complicity in her father Islam Karimov’s reign of terror.
“There’s nothing fashionable about lending a high-profile platform to the senior official of one of the world’s most repressive governments,” fumed Steve Swerdlow, Uzbekistan researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The jet-setting Karimova, 39, has tried mightily to project a glamorous image: making a video with Julio Iglesias and booking Sting for a fashion festival in Tashkent in 2009 -- a gig for which he was roundly criticized.
She also launched her colorful “Guli” fashion line, which is heavily influenced by Middle Eastern and Asian cultures.
It features embroidered trims and traditional flowing Uzbek blends of cotton and silk.
But U.S. diplomats in Uzbekistan said, “Most Uzbeks see Karimova as a greedy, power-hungry individual who uses her father to crush business people or anyone else who stands in her way,” according to documents released by WikiLeaks.
The firestorm is an embarrassment for IMG, which produces Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
“We’re horrified by the human-rights abuses in Uzbekistan, and hope that the attention Human Rights Watch generates is able to effect change in the country. We also hope to work hand-in-hand with Human Rights Watch during Fashion Week and beyond to challenge those in power in Uzbekistan to take action immediately,” an IMG spokesman said.
Nevertheless, IMG said it had no plans to cancel the runway show.
Representatives for Karimova said the fashionista was out of the country and unavailable for comment.