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.