Check It Out
Mingling fabrics with arts
Naheeda Sharmeen, who has had as many as nine solo exhibitions of her saris, shalwar kameez and kurta-pajama sets in Dhaka and Chittagong, is confident of her creations in silks and cottons. Wife of the well-known artist, Ahmed Nazir, and daughter-in-law of the oldest living legend in Bangladesh's art world, Safiuddin Ahmed, she has been a star pupil all through her academic life. She blends her passion for sewing, cutting and designing with her forte in drawing and painting. She has excelled in both fields, and today has an outlet for in-vogue women's wear at ARA Centre, Dhanmondi. Earlier, Sharmeen's gorgeous, but cool saris were presented in art galleries like Gallery Chitrak and Shilpangan.
Sharmeen says that she does not imitate and adapt from overseas fashion magazines. "I create my clothes from my own imagination, with my expertise in this field. I blend my pastel and inviting colours, combing motifs taken from local flowers and other folk designs, and scenes from the countryside. I combine block prints with paintings, using highlights like Balochi and Sindhi mirror-work, beads, sequins, cowry shells and embroidery. My saris and women's wear include traditional stitches like Lucknow and Gujrati stitches. These are at times blended with others taken from different parts of the subcontinent -- which have now become the integral part of traditional stock-in-trade of our eastern traditions. I use simple stitches too -- like lazy-daisy and satin.
"Yes, like most other creators of fashion-wear for the bourgeoisie and upper echelons of our society, I have my team of painters and tailors, whom I've trained myself. It's only after my success in sale of the fashion fabrics that I've lately had the courage to proceed to have the shop, which naturally consumes a fair portion of my time and energy. I have my homemaking duties-- like all women entrepreneurs. I'm not just presenting a commodity, but giving my clients something artistic to take home and flaunt with ease, on festive and fun occasions such as Eid and casual parties."
Fashion wear form Sharmeen's collection may be worn to work too by the fashion conscious women and teenagers with a penchant to deck up and liven up their daily existence in offices and schools. "There is nothing gaudy or outlandish in my collection. The fashion wear is for the subtle but sophisticated. Suitable for all weather in Bangladesh - muggy, cloudy weather or bright, tropical sunshine - the women wearing clothes from my collection are bound to feel confident and 'fresh as a daisy'".
Indulging in nostalgia, Naheed speaks of the days when she was only seven or eight, when she spent her afternoons in sewing and embroidering her clothes and painting and drawing. She got her inspiration from her family, friends and all she came across in her academic life. During the lunch break, she tutored her fellow students to stitch and embroider in the 'Dark Room'. "This was painted from outside and meant for photography, lunch, etc. I also drew on the board, when classes took place during my academic life. This gave me impetus to draw and colour." At the university in Chittagong, she had superb teachers, like Alok Roy and Dhali Al-Mamoon, who inspired her in her love of composing figures and forms. It is their guidance that helped her in her earlier years in painting and drawing. I moved on to fabric wear, as this was most satisfying for me," says Sharmeen.
What does she hope to create in future - although her hands are full - shuttling between her home, that of her in-laws and her outlet? "I hope to create fashion accessories with fabrics, like other fashion designers," says Sharmeen.
By Fayza Haq