|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 31, Tuesday August 19, 2008|
You cannot do without clothes; maybe a day or two without food is possible but certainly not clothes. Think about it for a while and then react; no sane person, not even a beggar can come out in the streets without their flimsy rags wrapped around them.
Therefore when people talk about the three basics of a society being food, shelter and clothing, Bibi Russel re-arranges the order and likes to think of the sequence as 'clothing, food and shelter'. From this mere thought she planted her famous slogan 'Fashion for development' into our minds.
Today, her painstaking labour to improve the textiles of Bangladesh has bought her work to this illustrious platform and is enjoying fame especially in the global market. Working for nearly 14 years in Bangladesh, mainly in the sector of developing fabrics and textiles, Russel has recently opened her first ever outlet in Dhanmondi, Rd-27 opposite Nando's. “Scandanavian and other European countries are already carrying products from Bibi Production, and this Christmas, it will hopefully reach the shelves of Belgium. But before that I wanted a store of my own in Bangladesh. Thus with the help of my sisters I opened this store and am simply ecstatic to see for myself the reaction from my customers,” Russel says and emphasises on the fact that she didn't want any foreign joint venture but a small store of her own. “Even if they buy a bangle or a bag I love to see young people dropping in and trying out my clothes,” she adds.
“Going a little back into history I first saw Bibi Russell as a model in a MotherCare magazine for pregnant women way back in late seventies,” says an ardent fan, “My aunt was pointing to a beautiful lean model to me and saying 'You know she is Bangladeshi?' From that day till now whenever I see her I feel the same pride I felt years ago. A Bangladeshi among Europeans in that era was indeed an achievement, she is actually a pioneer whom we at times fail to appreciate. Today the work that she is doing with fabrics is undoubtedly praiseworthy. Her professionalism on fashion shows, her strict discipline with models, her sincerity with quality, makes her stand out in the crowd,” she adds, while Bibi's customers stand in queue to get her autograph or request her to carry plus sizes for them.
The fact that Bibi is different from all our designers reflects in her store, which is needless to mention like chalk and cheese from any boutiques in the city. Simple, artistic but with almost a threadbare look to it, her racks are filled with handloom short dresses, tops, kurtas, panjabi and all devoid of any prints, motifs, embroidery, sequins, zardozi etc. “ I don't want any such embellishment in my designs, I want the fabric to do the talking,” she explains. “If any one is looking for block prints or embroidery the other stores in the city are there to cater to them, mine is all about richness of the textile and simplicity of the design. I take pride in my patterns.”
Bibi sincerely believes that it is mandatory for a designer's store to carry the designer's handwriting; it simply cannot be a look like of any other designer. Her store carries deshi denims, organic coats and blazers, Rajshahi silk ties, waterproof handloom umbrellas, gamcha slip-ons of course her extraordinary jamdanis, her famous 100 percent recycled thread bangles and painted wooden ones among other handloom items.
The collection and also the store are currently displaying items and are decorated on 14 theme colours and she says that these theme colours will change periodically to bring in variety and diversification. Her store, she thinks, is for the middle class and lower middle class mainly, but expatriates and ambassadors also frequent her store.
“A person who walks into the store is not obligated to buy my products, if it doesn't cater to their taste but they have the option to choose and mix-match their own outfit once in my store. I am not selling any sets, each item has an individual tag and they can buy a kurta and match it with another dupatta or a shalwar, or simply wear it with denims, whatever feels right for them, they can do it here,” she explains the mode of operation.
This internationally acclaimed designer who is given the UN tribute of Asia Icon for Fashion for Development is yet to have her full potential truly appreciated by her deshi citizens, but for now nobody is stopping her from taking her beloved Bangladesh to heights she has dreamt of.
'When the going gets tough, the tough gets going' has always been her motto, thus 'akla cholo re' her slogan reflects her mindset and we earnestly believe this passionate woman will blaze a trail.
By Raffat Binte Rashid
On The Cover
You cannot live with them; you cannot live without them; you cannot scramble them about like letters on a scrabble board. They are our cousins. Amidst the highs and lows, the comradery and the bullying, the relationship between cousins have withstood the test of time. Turn to Centre for the scoop...
The role of uncles and aunts in our lives is indeed quite significant. Almost all of us share a unique bond with these characters of our lives. We put them in a special place of our hearts and they are the people who you can turn to every now and then. It is in fact the relationship that makes you grow strong roots with next of kins and often learn a lot about family values.
From the times of our adolescence we come across them frequently and often pester them with candies and what not. They never scream at you or impose their ideas; they try to guide you, help to make the right choices in life.
They also keep your secrets and understand the ups and downs of your life. When it comes down to handling matters of relationship, they are simply the best. Girls are often more social with their aunts and whenever they meet up, its all about cracking up family jokes, shop talks and finding out the hottest guy in the class room or in the neighbourhood.
The chitchat sessions are longer than expected and hours seem to fly like seconds. As we grow, sharing and interaction with uncles or aunts lessen. Commitments, academic or social, soon surround us and this affects relationship.
Uncles and aunts will always have a soft corner for you, no matter how far the distances may arise. They have seen you grow up, and some of them have even known you more closely than your own friends. We may at times consider them back dated and orthodox but whatever they may be, the relation that connects should matter at all cost. It's not hard to find an uncle or aunt to whom you can confide in and make yourself feel at ease. They are the people who can pull you out when you are down.
By Yamin Tauseef Jahangir
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