Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 6, Issue 25, Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Dhaka Fashion Week:

Glitz, glamour and gorgeous garments

The Dhaka Fashion Week 2011, sponsored by the Raffles Design Institute Dhaka, New Jarwa House and fashion house Zeenat, was a holistic fashion extravaganza over a four-day period that included a combination of photography exhibitions, roundtable discussions, lectures by designers and of course, fashion shows. The event was organised by an advertising and event management firm that shares its name, Dhaka Fashion Week.

A brainchild of Kawshiki Nasser Tupa, a model herself, the Dhaka Fashion Week (DFW) kicked off with utmost glitz and glamour in the capital on 15 June 2011. It showcased the country's best fashion designers along with upcoming designers on one platform to display their creative endeavours.

Overall, fifty designers, including seven designers from India, displayed their work in the event. The reason for including international designers was to enrich the fashion scene so that the local designers get to have an opportunity to share their thoughts with them and learn more about fashion outside the border.

Already in its fourth year, DFW aspires to continue making the mark it has made throughout the years. The core motive of the event underlines change, something that will congregate all sorts of fashion professionals like designers, photographers and makeup artists to create a comprehensive package.

This will not only lead to greater exposure for all, but also ensure that each of them get to work better with each other in order to make the overall process more efficient and harmonious.

Keeping with this year's theme, 'A Celebration of Sight', the designs incited a lot of 'oohs' and 'aahs' from the audience. The fact that Dhaka Fashion Week, in association with Child Sight are furthering the notion of awareness about prevention and cure for child blindness, added more than a trace of nobility to the glamorous affair.

DFW has always been a more creative and designer-focused event than just being buyer-centric because they believe that it is the art that needs to be appreciated in the first place for it to grow.

Going by the theme of bringing about a positive change in the fashion industry, the discussions held by DFW last year led to the creation of fashion journalism as a course to be provided at Independent University. Make-up shows by Elegance, Dreams and Ban Thai were also presented, making way for the launch of the Westin's exclusive bridal package.

A round-table discussion held on 16 June at The Westin Dhaka brought together a varied list of individuals, each with a stake in the fashion industry, thus bringing to the table a well-rounded and wholesome set of perspectives about our local fashion scene.

Participants present included international merchandisers, local garments industry representatives, fashion designers, media and lecturers and management personnel from the Raffles Design Institute in Dhaka.

The morning commenced with an audio visual presentation of fashion shows organised by outgoing graduating students from the Raffles Design Institute in Australia, showcasing both the talent and near-professional level of expertise that any given batch of the institute's students reach upon completion of their courses or degrees. This was followed by an introduction of everyone present, offering a brief description of each participant's background, occupation and line of interest in fashion.

With participants better acquainted, the floor was given to the core discussion -- 'The Role of Fashion Professionals in the Fashion Industry: A Bangladesh Perspective'. The discussion was further narrowed into four sub-topics, with each category focusing on deriving a clear definition of who fashion professionals are, whether there are sufficient numbers of such professionals in the industry, the places and processes of training they undergo and finally, what initiatives existing fashion houses and fashion professionals can undertake to aid future entrants into the industry to grow.

Two hours of interactive and invigorating discussion, presided over by Terrence Tan, College Director, Raffles Design Institute, closed with a consensus being reached that anyone with a stake in fashion -- whether garments exporters, fashion journalists, entrepreneurship provisioning bodies or the more directly related models, designers, photographers -- can be collectively termed fashion professionals.

Similarly, the need for quality training for future professionals interested in the many different branches of fashion was also widely recognised.The roundtable was concluded with a visit to Raffles Design Institute's premises located in Gulshan.

The next highlight of the four-day-long event, the fashion shows, took the mercury level to its height at the Living Room of the Westin with big names in the modelling world gracing the stage with panache.

The fashion show series was inaugurated by the beautiful designs of Chutti Adhikari, an Indian designer. The use of the soft, sensuous and fiery colours of the summer on simple products and motifs of nature was a feast to the eyes.

Two other Indian designers Niraj and Rashi made their debuts at the DFW 2011 with their lines inspired by the Sepoy Mutiny. They worked on Indian fabrics, especially khadi and linen, to form Western silhouettes.

The most out of the box design of this line actually involved a box where the dress ended in a box! When asked what brought them to the DFW and how they liked it, the duo answered, “Dhaka is a very good market for Indian designs, thus we chose to make our debuts here. DFW has treated us beyond expectations and the people we have to work with are very cooperative. We may launch our store here in the future depending on the response”.

Another line that was quite extraordinary used feathers as a common element in the designs. Model Emi flaunted a halter-topped dress with a blue feathery bottom akin to a flamingo.

Similar feathery dresses prevailed throughout the line. Perhaps the most eye-catching design was that of a dress with peacock feather motifs and circular plates sticking out along the length of the dress reminding one of flying saucers.

Rita Singhania, also from India, brought mostly traditional designs to the audience using different drapes in saris keeping in mind the upcoming Eid season. “Dhaka Fashion Week will help my brand, Virachi, obtain huge exposure in the market here where a lot of fashion and brand conscious individuals are known to be more than willing to avail designer clothes”.

Giving the show a more Bengali touch a short dance routine was performed by four of the models on the ever-so-famous Bangla song Lila Bali, followed by a wedding line of clothes with couples sporting sari and sherwani, lehenga and panjabi and a white wedding dress, complete with the veil, and suit.

The show, choreographed and directed by Kawshiki Nasser, ended there, setting the stage for the fashion shows which followed the next two days.

The next fashion show kicked off with Roxana Salam's 'Mariamah' collection, which has carved quite a niche for itself in Malaysia and hopes to do the same worldwide. The clothes beautifully meshed together the ethnic touch of burqas and hijabs with more stylish tones and designs, building a bridge between religion and fashion.

This was especially ideal for those who do not like to compromise their style too much for anything else and it looked fabulous. Some of the shoes that went along with the dresses were very well received, whilst others did not manage to incite enough excitement.

Of the numerous designers involved in the show, Jatra truly stood out, as it created a bond between fashion and actual Bangla Pop culture, choreographed perfectly to the theme of bangle movies and Rickshaw pop art.

All the models wore street fair masks and did a wonderful choreographed dance/drama-esque show on stage to a wonderful mix of Bangla cinema pop songs. Jaatra kept our bright vibrant culture alive while incorporating the youths' signature fusion style onto their clothes. Bright colours, graphic prints, traditional embellishments complimented men in extremely comfortable looking dhotis and pyjamas.

'This has definitely become my new favourite place to shop and I'm heading there first thing tomorrow to buy out the whole collection sans the men's wear' Musarrat Rahman, an avid fashion fan gushed.

Escapee followed Jaatra's beautiful presentation. Bright and sparkly dresses, churidars and velvet-minidresses/fatuas hybrid took the stage to a mixed reception.

The show progressed onwards and at the close many were left wishing for the show to go on. Thankfully for them, there was still the grand finale to look forward to.

The Dhaka Fashion Week is the most anticipated event for fashionistas and it saw numerous of the invited elites in attendance, all awaiting their first sneak peek at the latest fashion trends which are to sweep the country in the following months. The four-day event generated much interest and appreciation, at the end of which very attendees felt it was not worth its hype.

-- LS Desk
Photo: Zahedul I Khan


Kibria: An irreplaceable icon in our art

One recalls Mohammed Kibria, the beloved “teacher, guide and philosopher” of hundreds of students and teachers, who have gone through the Department of Fine Arts, Dhaka University. The self-effacing, tall, lanky and soft-spoken prince of prints, gently guided one and all by saying “Put a line here, add more colours there. This image could improve and be better balanced thus.”

He was like some hovering angel over the Dhaka fine arts scenario for ages. There was nothing pompous or arrogant about him, although as an artist, he towered over others. One does not know if the visiting artist Salim from the US was right, when he commented that the government and art patrons should have better projected Mohammed Kibria overseas.

Many of his students and admirers like Rokeya Sultana, who now resides in Gulshan, have often said, “Let's go and visit him at his residence in Dhanmandi,” but due to the hustle and bustle of the crazy cosmopolitan existence, one failed to do so. Although, when he departed this earth, with him went a little piece of oneself.

He was admired and treasured by every art critic, who saw his work at home or abroad. I myself, an ordinary writer, felt that I “was not worth putting the buckle on his shoe”. When he confided in one, one felt transported into his tranquil world of images in soft, delicate hues full of mysticism, hopes and dreams.

Geometrical lines in cubistic forms seen in Full Moon, depicted the image of a lady dreaming or “Swimming" (Oil, 1959) had two female figures -- delicate, cute faces, with large eyes, and dainty mouths and noses -- swimming. The limbs, fingers and toes were visible and spread out like in some folk motif. The jet black trees trailed behind the women like dream-like flowing streams. This painting was in yellow ochre, pink, burnt-umber, burnt-sienna and moss green.

This was before he moved on to abstractions, taken from nature and life around him, as happens with so many maestros. Meanwhile the lithograph “Composition in Black and Blue” (1961) held together barred wooden doors -- as if they were locked and held some secret world -- away from prying eyes. The bold blue, brown and black powerful strokes had the signature tone of a very confident painter.

“Painting Blue” (1993) is another dream-like creation with blotches of brown within gray and green masses. A bar of turquoise blue with more solid white and soft grey rectangles for outlines supported the basic images.

When Kibria moved on to abstract expressionism, he did not lose touch with his roots. He continued to use vibrant colours and fine, stirring images. His hues were dynamic and moving, although often subtle and pale. His lines and space formations were unique, to say the least. It was difficult to separate what was revealed and what remained hidden, as his lines and colours merged in the mind of the viewer.

The magic of his choice of colours was only a part of his genius. His energy brought in suggestions of both joy and suffering so fine were the selection and presentation of his objects, and his manner of expressing his mind and feelings.

His paintings and prints remained energetic, simple and concise. There was always the element of fluidity in his compositions.

His textures were more than a mere collection of geometrical lines and shapes. Through them he expressed his memories and desires. His shapes remained lively, yet peaceful. Never involved in making protests or declarations, his works were full of grace, charm and confidence. Every patch of colour had a warm, pulsating story of its own. Despite abstraction, space is carefully used; they speak of his careful education in Kolkata, Dhaka and Japan.

Kibria's search for meaning was a joyous celebration of life. Meanwhile he shifted from moments of agony to ecstasy; everything about him was powerful, though delicate. There was the element of the intellectual in his paintings and prints. Although sometimes pensive, his works were never clouded with gloom.

His lithographs, although sometimes a collection of undecipherable lines and images, were fluid, and led a meaningful whole, when one gazed at them with concentration. His vision remained unique and unparalleled.

By Fayza Haq


How to hang your artwork

The correct way to hang a picture on a wall depends on the weight of the picture and the density of the wall. When hanging a picture over a sofa, don't leave a lot of wall space between the sofa and the picture. Try three to six inches. If you go any higher, the viewer's eye will just go to the wall, not the picture.

Most people hang pictures too high; you should not have to strain your neck to see them. The general rule is to make the centre of the picture roughly five feet from the ground.

Bedrooms will take pretty, pastel-coloured images and a dining room more darker, serious pictures. Hallways and less important areas can often take a series of prints. An important oil painting should occupy a strong focal point within a room. A large painting hung on a staircase will give maximum impact. Do not hang a picture where it looks squashed or place a small picture in a vast space.

If you want to create a wall arrangement using several pieces of artwork, start with the large central artwork as a main focus and then hang other pictures around it, possibly in pairs. Symmetry is essential. Try to balance the room as you cast your eye round it. For sets of prints, use the same frames if they are to hang together.

Don't put one little picture on a large wall or large picture on small wall. If there's not enough artwork to fill up more space on a large wall, consider putting mirrors or a shadowbox in the grouping. Consider resting pictures on shelving hammered directly on to a wall. Or display them on a plate rack in place of plates.

Nor do pictures always need to be on a wall. Consider a bamboo easel for an Asian-inspired decor. There is also wrought-iron or wood easels available, so choose one that complements the look of the home.

-LS Desk
Photo: LS Archive


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