design for Life
As part of their ongoing battle against the deadly disease, UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS collaborated with the United Nations Women's Association of Bangladesh (UNWA) to use fashion to promote awareness through a thematic fashion show at the UNWA 2009 Ball at Radisson Water Garden Hotel, on January 31.
The nine designers/fashion houses participating in this event were presented with a unique challenge; the theme of the show was the red ribbon, which is recognized as the global icon representing the fight against HIV/AIDS. This limited the colour spectrum to red, white and black. Secondly, with the ball in mind, in place of a ramp, the models would have a red carpet walkway right through the audience, so choreography would also be a tricky issue.
The show kicked off with Shahrukh Amin of Almira. The collection featured Mughal-inspired kameezes with their high waists and full skirts, teamed with churidars. There were also princess-line kameezes with Mandarin collars, paired with printed culottes. The make-up was very old-school glam, with bold red lips and smouldering eyes.
Aneela Haque was up next, and her line featured her signature text-art fabric. A blushing bride in tomato red, her dashing Prince Charming in a white lungi and kurti ensemble, paired off with a long red jacket; Haque had choreographed her models to tell a story. The collection also featured a medieval twist on contemporary clothes with a white tunic with Ann Boleyn sleeves worn over tight slacks, and other elements like hooded shoulder wraps, waistcoats incorporated into the shalwar-kameez and fotua-trousers ensembles.
A flamboyant Bibi Russel was up next with a wild collection that incorporated elements of a European countryside with quirky traits from our own rural scene. Peasant skirts, bodices the milkmaid head-scarf, ek pach saris, kurtis teamed with the narrow pajamas with beribboned ankles reminiscent of chanachur-wallahs, all in white, with the red-ribbon motif, complete with shoes that resembled fabric Crocs, there was nothing conventional about this collection as the models came dancing down the stage.
Banglar Mela came next, with a more casual line of taat saris, pullovers and trousers, fotuas and capris, with the red ribbon motif incorporated into the clothes and the accessories.
Kay Kraft took the stage next, with a darker palette of red and black. The collection was kept simple and wearable, with basic fotua and jeans, and printed saris. The make-up was also understated, underscoring the serious issue being represented.
Up next was Kuhu with her trademark painted saris. There were also silk fotuas with hoods, and an interesting kaftan dress sported by a model carrying an umbrella emblazoned with the red-ribbon motif.
Kuhu was followed by Kumudini, which dared deviate a little from the colour range to incorporate shades of yellow and orange cutwork and embroidery on the black saris. There were also a corset and gypsy skirt ensemble. As a nod to the awareness campaign, one of the models sported an elaborate hairdo held in place by syringes acting as hairpins.
Prabartana followed, with the emphasis on the rich fabric and textiles in brick red. The cuts were simple and casual, with sailor tops, crop-tops and tank tops paired with slacks, long dresses, and kurtis over pajamas.
Shadakalo provided a very fitting end to the show, with the models moving to the tune of Marvin Gaye's 'What's Goin' On?”. The collection featured saris, panjabis, and dresses in pristine white with delicate silver embroidery, with the red ribbon incorporated into the button holes or fringes, or even represented by the halter blouses.
The hair and make-up for the event were done by Farzana Shakil's Hair and Makeover Salon, and Persona.
The event was followed by dinner, and the evening concluded with live music and dance.
By Sabrina F Ahmad
Photo: Zahedul I Khan