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Klara Khani belongs to the Traditional Roma community of the Gabor tribe commonly referred to as the Brahmin of Roma society for their ultra-orthodox ways and preservation of their ancestral traditions tracing back to their Hindu-Indian origins. She is member of a family of tinsmiths, the traditional Gabor trade, in a society that follows the Indian Jati system of identifying by the inherent male trade. The “ping” of her father’s rhythmic hammer echoes throughout the Gabor courtyard and which now clashes with the churning wheel of Klara’s sewing machine. Other moments of the day
Klara’s competitive little hammer can be heard against the heavier male’s hammer as she bangs in a hundred little nails used to form the pleats of her skirts and aprons. It’s the Gabor unique style of pleating their clothing that gives it that distinct style and shrinks the lengthy ten meters of material into a single skirt/apron. Klara works the traditional way – the old fashioned way - also known as the Gypsy way; it’s slow and meticulous yet in so doing fully absorbs the Gypsy Spirit and all its passions.
Klara began making her dresses back in 2012.
Our little project was looking for a Roma seamstress. I was talking with Klara’s mother because if ever you want to know something about the Roma traditions than she’s the one to go to.
I was asking her if she knew someone who could make the skirts.
Klara surprised us all by calling out from her corner of the room - “I’ll do it!”
“But do you know how?”
“No, not yet, but I’ll learn” – and learn she did. She bought a machine with money she earned through her small business selling perfumes – and then calculatingly went about “stealing the trade” (a popular term of the Gypsies referring to the practice of learning by watching those who know and then doing yourself.) She learned alright, she learned beautifully, but more than that, she began rapidly improving her performance from duplicating to innovating. She began creating her own line of Gabor style dresses and to the point she was being noticed by Roma society’s crème de crème, the trendsetting "Kalaposho" - Roma royalty.