The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry celebrated it’s 50th anniversary last month with a three-day international business conference. DCCI organised a light and sound show along with a fashion show depicting the changes in couture and heritage of Dhaka city over 400 years at the historic Lalbagh fort. I attended the event anticipating a grandiose show. The Lalbagh fort looked amazing illuminated by lights everywhere.

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The fashion show was started off by Tootli Rahman depicting the fashion during the Mughal era. The Mughal rule is considered a ‘golden age’ of textile crafts in the Sub-continent. To say that Tootli Rahman’s collection was a disappointment would be an understatement. Her clothes lacked the finesse, luxury and intricate detailing of the Mughal era. She failed to revive the vintage glamor of the Mughals and instead showcased badly tailored clothes that were mismatched.

Next was Kuhu Plamondon’s collection depicting fashion during the British Raj. Kuhu’s collection showcased the influence of British fashion on traditional Bengali clothing. Men wore jackets with dhoti pajama’s and carried top hats with their kurta’s. The use of lace, ruffles and pleats in sarees were evident of the influence of the dresses worn by the British women. Kuhu was able to reflect the colonial heritage of Dhaka fashion in her collection. I came away impressed.

Emdad Hoque’s collection illustrated the influence on fashion during the independence movement of India and the emancipation of Bangladesh from Pakistan. Models walked the ramp dressed in the colours of Bangladesh. Patriotic slogans in bangla were printed onto the clothes. Sarees in black and write paid tribute to the martyrs of the Balngladesh language movement. Emdad Hoque used traditional hand loom fabrics in cotton and khadi. His collection captured the essence of the revolutionary era. His collection of Jamdani sarees were also very nice, although the pairing of turbans with sarees was not very original (Bibi Russell had done that in the past) and seemed a little out of context to me.

The finale showcased Bibi Russells futuristic collection. Her collection contained beautiful Jamdani sarees and traditional hand loom fabrics in western silhouettes. Some of the clothes featured pathwork in various grameen checks. Models walked the ramp wearing fun accessories made from beads and dry flowers. Her eclectic designs were original and in true Bibi style- fabulous!

The photos were taken by a young dynamic photographer, my friend-Salman Saeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An icon of the Bangladesh Fashion industry, Bibi Russell has single-handedly put Bangladesh on the global fashion map. Her commitment to the development and welfare of Bangladeshi weavers and support for the traditional crafts has been acclaimed world wide.

Bibi Russell graduated from the London College of Fashion and at her graduate show, was discovered by Harper’s Bazaar as a model. She became one of the most sought-after models of the 70’s and 80’s working with Chanel,Yves Saint Laurent,Valentino and Armani among others.

Bibi Russell has rediscovered the ancient craft of hand-weaving and helped the traditional handloom weavers gain international exposure and sustainable income.In 1995 she founded the company “Bibi Productions”. Her work provides a platform for over 35,000 weavers and artisans all over Bangladesh to utilize their talents. Bibi works with materials like cotton, khadi, silk, jamdani and jute. In the recent years, she has been experimenting with crochet in her designs. She does a spring-summer and fall-winter collection each year and exports to Europe and Scandinavia. Her collections – under the tag line ‘Fashion for Development and Positive Bangladesh’ promotes Bangladeshi fabrics and handicrafts for domestic and international markets. (more…)