Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   | Volume 7, Issue 09, Tuesday, February 28, 2012



Humaira Khan's Couture:
Your own fairy tale

In this world of mass production, it is almost impracticable for one to get her dream dress to materialise. While the Indian products are ruling the wedding fashion scene in Bangladesh, with wedding attires like saris and lehengas being named after Bollywood actresses, there are some who want to go the alternative way to look a bit different from the rest. They are the ones who go abroad before the big occasions, visiting places like India and Pakistan to get their own designer dresses done to perfection, according to their taste. But why go for such hassles, wasting time and energy when you can get your own customised dream attire made right here in the country!

Thanks to Humaira Khan, one of the most renowned designers in the country and the owner of the popular boutique shop Anokhi, this boon has been brought right to your doorstep through the introduction of 'Humaira Khan's Couture Collection'. Humaira Khan has been running Anokhi for the last twenty-three years. Its success lies in its niche offerings to the highly loyal customer base it has developed for over two decades, who bestow their full trust in the designs carried out by Humaira.

Anokhi has always targeted the premium segment of the society, with their goodwill being built through word of mouth. Serving her clients for so many years has helped Humaira anticipate their needs. Hence, the idea of coming up with her own line of clothing stemmed from her desire to cater to all her clients' wishes, so that they do not have to look elsewhere for that perfect piece of attire for that very special day.

'Humaira Khan's couture' is basically a service which will get you impeccable attire customised to your own taste and sewn to perfection. The creation will be at par with any designer clothing from foreign designers. Humaira Khan herself dedicates her time and energy behind creating each of the pieces. It is a lengthy process that starts by making an appointment where you discuss your own likes and preferences to help Humaira visualize that dream attire and sketch it up. Then there are subsequent sessions where Humaira sets out all the material, creates at least two to three demo designs for you to choose from, gets the design approved by you, test-fits it and then finally delivers the finished product.

“It is an amazing feeling to see somebody walk out of that dressing room, glowing like a princess wearing something that I have created,” said Humaira. She is very particular about cuts, placings, necklines and puts a lot of emphasis on fit, something that is usually a matter of concern for most clients. “How a dress will look on a person depends highly on how it fits her body type,” she added.

Anokhi started as an endeavour to fuel her personal interest of designing, catering to a very niche premium segment -- the reason it never took a commercial look. Her theme was always to keep her designs young, chic, understated and elegant. But now after so many successful years of existence, she wants to give it a more professional look, something that will be a comprehensive solution for her existing base of loyal clients. Humaira said, “Once somebody puts on an Anokhi creation, they seldom look elsewhere, the reason why my clients have immense trust on my designs and will close their eyes and give me the responsibility to dress them up my own way. I have had myself creating a dress that has been worn in the Grammies.'

Humaira Khan's couture designs seem to be right out of a Mughal fairytale, with ample use of lavish fabrics like velvet, silk, chiffon, net, etc. with one-of-a-kind embellishments like silver ribbons, crystal stones and gold foils, coupled with flowy cuts.

So if you have already decided to go for Humaira's Couture, make sure you have at least twenty days to four months at hand before the big day and get your initial appointment done as soon as possible. Remember, it is one special occasion where you deserve nothing less than being treated like a princess.

By Afrida Mahbub
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Model: Peya and Isha
Wardrobe: Humaira Khan for Anokhi
Makeup: Farzana Shakil



a thousand years in stones

Siem Reap was the place to be in South Asia during the 1960s which saw a steady stream of the rich and famous. After a long catnap of 30 years, Siem Reap is back in the express lane as one of the hottest destinations in the world. With Angkorwat as the eight wonder, Siem Reap was destined for great things. The post-war Siem Reap is a cosy place, with more guesthouses and hotels than temples, world-class wining and dining and sumptuous spas.

Getting There
There are a few ways to go to Siem Reap. You can go through Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand as there are no direct routes and the cost is approximately Tk.60,000 or a little over that.

Staying There
There is no shortage of hotels. I stayed at Angkorwat which was priced at 35 dollars/night. The hotel is recommendable as there is a nice pool and good food. Better hotels like Le Meridian are priced at 200 dollars/night with much better facilities.

Siem Reap - The City
The heart of Siem Reap is still a little charmer, with old French shop-houses, shady tree-lined boulevards and a slow-flowing river. But it is expanding at breakneck speed with new houses and apartments, hotels and resorts sprouting like mushrooms in the surrounding countryside.

The tourist tide has arrived and locals are riding the wave. Not only is this great news for the long-suffering Khmers, but it has transformed the town into an effervescent place for visitors. The tallest building is four floors high which makes for an open atmosphere that let's the sky in.

Things to do Angkor Wat
The Angkor Wat temple is one of the most artistically and architecturally exquisite structures in the world. It is the largest religious monument ever built and the showpiece of Cambodia's Khmer heritage. Rising 65 meters above the earth, Angkor Wat's presence is majestic and awe-inspiring.

Over a period of 300 years, between 900 and 1200 AD, the Khmer Kingdom of Angkor produced some of the world's most magnificent architectural masterpieces on the northern shore of the Tonle Sap, near the present town of Siem Reap.

The Angkor area stretches 15 miles east to west and 5 miles north to south. Some 72 major temples or other buildings dot the area. Suryavarman II built the principal temple, Angkor Wat, between 1112 and 1150 AD. With walls nearly a half mile on each side, Angkor Wat portrays the Hindu cosmology with the central towers representing Mount Meru, home of the gods; the outer walls the mountains enclosing the world; and the moat the oceans beyond.

Angkor Thom, the capital city built after the Cham sack of 1177, is surrounded by a 300-foot wide moat. Construction of Angkor Thom coincided with a change from Hinduism to Buddhism. Temples were altered to display images of the Buddha, and Angkor Wat became a major Buddhist shrine.

It takes about two complete days to scan Angkor Wat. There is a Lara Croft temple which is very interesting to look at; the name derives from Angeline Jolie's character in the film. Angkor Wat is best viewed in the early morning.

Ton Le Sap and The Floating Village
The river cruise will be very exciting for most westerners but for Bangladeshis, it might not quite be our piece of cake. The landscape is very much like any river cruise in Bangladesh but you have to pay 20 dollars for a 90-minute trip. The Tonle Sap is also home to many Vietnamese who have immigrated to Cambodia over the last 50 to 100 years, often to the consternation of the native Cambodian population.

Spas and massage
The Khmers believe that the Thai massage is derived from Khmer massage but is more relaxing as it requires less twisting and turning. The trained masseurs are the real deal. Be careful not to confuse them with the 'shady' ones. Charge varies depending on places but is usually within 5 dollars per hour as long as it's not a five-star hotel.

Food Talk Amok Trey
Fish-covered with kroeung and coconut milk, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. I would say that of all the food I have had there, this was the best. It was recommended by a colleague, Fariha, who had tried this just the day before.

Hemurpajon or Sea Food Pancake
Koreans work in the infrastructure development sector in Cambodia and I tried their seafood pancake which is just brilliant. It's salted pancake with all kinds of lightly fried sea food put together. Anyone who is a foodie like me will surely love it.

Ka Tieu is a traditional Khmer soup made from pork broth mostly but you can find chicken broth ones too in case you don't want pork broth. It is served with fresh green onions, bean sprouts and cilantro with noodles and slices of chicken.

Bar Street
The Bar Street is the place to be. Wonderful open bars and restaurants lend the area a grunge look and it feels as if Bob Marley has personally designed it. It is also a great place for dinner for people who like to be amongst travellers.

Siem Reap is a quiet place for a relaxing holiday. It's amazing if you are not the type who wants to hop from shop to shop. Traders of wood and furniture should try this divine city too. It gives you a feel of peace and serenity, if you want it.

By Taskin Rahman


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