The long awaited and highly anticipated fashion show finally took off on the 3rd of November and concluded with a bang on the 4th. It was two days of the finest representation of conscious creativity. The organisers put up a show that was truly wonderful to be a part of. The panel of designers welcomed the guests at the entrance, and they could be spotted mingling with the audience all over the venue. What an interactive way to start the show.
One after the other, the show was full of surprises. The audience was given a heads-up, more like a promise, that there will be twists to the show that no one should miss. And boy did they keep their word. The show commenced with a dance drama that leaped into the history, heritage and the struggle of Khadi -- The Khadi Story. But the real shocker was the appearance of Gandhi in the dance drama. The play in snippets, seamlessly blended in with the designers' cues.
The council of designers along with the foreign guest designers presented various ways of implementing creativity and consciousness in their line of clothes that ranged from saris paired with fantastic blouses, and kurtas and shalwar-kameezes, to jackets, coats, pant-suits and fusion dresses.
It was clear in their designs that they gave utmost value to our cultural heritage. And both local and foreign designers waged praise to the weavers, and the man behind the spinning wheel.
Every local participant showcased unique designs that were inspired by authentic Bangladeshi motifs. The lines featured admired traditional relics like the traditional floral embroidery, shitol-pati, hatpakha, shonkho-shakha and kori, rickshaw art and potochitro, and more traditional patterned designs like the terracotta, old grill work and wood work. And also, traditional ornamentations like the Kaanbala, GolapBala and jhumka and many more.
The designers expressed versatility that the khadi fabric and the traditional relics can bring when assembling these elements to our modern tastes. When it comes to Khadi, it is only normal for one to envision plain, solid, and usually one toned weaves of material. Khadi as a symbol is really a white piece of cloth. However, some of the designers breathed in new life to the material with the latest trend: the block art. Rickshaw art is the biggest current hype; thus, the lines by Chandana Dewan and Lipi Khandaker really caught the eye.
What's most fascinating about their cues is that, although they were both inspired by the same thing, their creations were unique from the other, and elicited different reactions from the audience.
While Chandana Dewan pleased the eye of the minimalist movement with patchworks recreated from the colours of rickshaw art; Lipi Khandaker took a bolder approach. Lipi Khandaker's clothes featured the different characters of Rickshaw Art, which included the signature water lily and the peacock. She even incorporated the 'Jhalor Style' rickshaw decorations with her layer cuts and frills like the hood of the rickshaw.
Now that rickshaw art is back, designers Afsana Ferdousi and Tenzing Chakma took it even further by going deeper into our roots with potochitro. They merged two local heritages in one. Afsana Ferdousi took us back with her chronological series of the history of Khadi from inception to resurgence.
While Afsana Ferdousi took the approach upholding the rich history of khadi, Tenzing Chakma presented the marriage of Khadi and potochitro with his trendy bohemian style take: which is timeless in its appeal and thus a sustainable design for the future.
The show was thematic to the fullest. All 26 designers maintained a colour scheme with their inspirations for their Khadi lines. Designers Kuhu and Emdad Hoque in their unique styles showed the bold potential of the Khadi through black and white. And Maria Sultana Mumu flaunted the more daring side of Khadi with her all pink colour scheme with her theme Shakha and Shonkho.
Besides the colour scheme factor, the soundtrack to each sequence was tantalising, and it indeed synchronised with the designers' sequences. Afsana Ferdousi accustomed her own soundtrack for her line with a groovy folk song. Kuhu's line was tracked by 'karar oi louhokopat' to entail our ethnic story -- oppression and liberation. And Sarah Karim harmonised her line of bold mirrored-embroidery and shiny tassel work with Rihanna's shine bright like a diamond, which was truly the gem of the show.
The aspect that caught the eye the most amongst all the designers' lines were the blouses. Everyone gave a new face to the traditional blouse with ruffles, fringes and long frock-sleeves with intricate designs. This has definitely started a new step, towards something new in our traditional wear. Expect these blouses to go viral.
From introduction to conclusion, the show just kept getting more fascinating. Whether it was intended or not, what I perceived from the timing of Gandhi's appearance towards the end is that it perfectly symbolised the resurgence of the Khadi today. Although the Khadi seemed to have been completely lost with the rise of machine-induced textile industries, the Fashion Design Council of Bangladesh took the bold stance against the mainstream to create a new roadmap for designers who want to push awareness for conscious and sustainable designs for the future.
Photo courtesy: Studio Lorenzo, Farhan Ahmed