Aziza Karieva

Saida Amir

Saida Amir was born and grew up in Tashkent. She was named best fashion designer of the year by TOP ART 2011, awarded by the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan. Saida graduated from the famous Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Saida is twice over awardee of the British Council’s fashion projects, and in 2007 she was trained as a special assistant at the British Fashion Fringe Competition in London. Aside from Uzbekistan, her works  exhibited in Kazakhstan, Moscow, Paris, Dusseldorf, Washington and London.  

My personal acquaintance with the British Council goes back to February 2007 and to a lucky coincidence. It was at the very beginning of a fashion and textile project called The New Silk Road, which was organised by the British Council. As soon as they learnt I also was a fashion designer, British Council staff offered me a place on the project and suggested that I should immediately join the team.    

The seminar lasted five full days and all the participants worked side by side at different art and craft workshops. In the end, based on the work done over the course of the whole seminar, our British guests selected me as the best candidate for a familiarisation trip to London.    

I was really inspired by the experience and I wanted to be involved in other British Council projects. Soon afterwards came the next phase of The New Silk Road project, which this time was very different in structure. I also invited many of my Uzbek designer colleagues to take part.  

We then began working closely together on the British designer competition Fashion Fringe. British Council’s role in Fashion Fringe was to select four finalists and send them to the countries involved in the New Silk Road project: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In these countries, the finalists had to draw inspiration from the culture of the country and reflect this in their future collection, and they also had to choose one protégé to create a new capsule collection for the competition. 

As a result of thorough selection, I was chosen by a British designer as a Special Assistant – protégé and in July I went to London again for training as a project manager assistant. I gained immense experience, which inspired and encouraged me even more and reinforced my conviction that I was on my way - and that I was doing what I had to do. This experience decided me to continue my professional academic education in the UK and make my old dream come true: to enter Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, which is a part of the University of the Arts of London and is the world’s top fashion higher education institution. So, as soon as I returned to Tashkent I started attending the Independent Learning Centre at the British Council, where I became a member of the conversation club, improved my English and prepared for my IELTS exams.        

At the British Council Centre I always experienced friendly and professional support from the staff who really cared about each of their visitors. It was a sheer pleasure to visit the Centre, as apart from providing knowledge and free access to learning materials, it facilitated communication at the conversation club with interesting, open and friendly people.   

The British Council’s activity in Uzbekistan played a huge role in my life. I have acquired a valuable experience, expanded my horizons and seen new opportunities opening up for me. I have gained confidence in my strength, come across a great number of interesting people and met new friends. Looking back, I am now thankful to my fate that one winter day I was in the right place at the right time!