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     Volume 6 Issue 3 | January 26, 2007 |

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Paris is Coming to Town!

Haute Couture by Jean-Louis Scherrer.

Dhaka may have become the city of never-ending excitement for the wrong reasons. Fashion is the last thing on the weary Dhakaite's mind at a time of such uncertainty. But the early part of February promises to wow the city's fashionistas in the most dramatic way. On February 9 and 10 the ballroom of Sonargaon Hotel will be turned into an avante garde Parisian catwalk where gorgeous international and local models will strut around in the most exquisite designs created by ten internationally famed French and four of the most renowned Bangladeshi designers. The French designers are John Galliano, Kenzo Takada, Jean-Charles de Castalbajac, Jean-Louis Scherrer, Carven, Pascal Giacomini, Eymeric Francois, Groupe Chanel, Georges Chakra and Loewe. The two-day fashion extravaganza includes fashion shows, gourmet dinner and lunch, a closing dinner and a party to end the event. But what is most important is that all the proceeds of the event will go to care, Bangladesh, a charity organisation.

That's not all. To make the event even more prestigious, the President of Care France Vicomtesse Marina de Brantes and Vice President of Care International as well as famous French actress Cyrielle Claire who is the spokesperson of Care France, will be flown in to the city. Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty will also be present at the event.

Organising the logistics of such a grand event is quite a challenge says Elisabeth Yearbury, former Commercial Attaché of the French Embassy and now an event organiser with a penchant for fashion. “When you are talking about haute couture nothing can be done without the approval of the designers and it is a real challenge to meet the standards that they expect”. The designers for instance are categorical about layout of the catwalk and lighting arrangements (no one except the models should be under spotlights) Which is why a French team of six experts will be flown in to ensure that the fashion shows go according to the specifications of the designers. They include two arts directors, a choreographer, collection manager, sound and light engineers. Emirates will fly in the exclusive designs all the way from Paris.

A Jean-Louis scherrer creation.

This is not the first time that the French fashion houses have come to Dhaka, although nothing of such a grand scale has ever taken place. In March 2002, the French Trade Commission organised a fashion show that brought to Dhaka an haute coutre fashion collection of over 100 garments and the event was completely booked-out. MRS Syndicate, a sister concern of Impress Group, will present this year's fashion gala which is supported by the French Embassy. Chanel I is the media partner of the event.

But this is intended to be more than just a fashion event. Yearbury insists that this is a great opportunity for Bangladesh to show off its own fashion. The four local designers at the show Aneela Haque, Bibi Russell, Kuhu and Rina Latif, have been recognised abroad for their innovative, exclusive, creations, especially those made from local fabrics.

Local textiles, says Yearbury, is an area that needs to be highlighted. “Designers are always looking for new kinds of fabrics and Bangladesh has wonderful silks, Jamdani, khadi etc.” Yearbury, who has been in the country for around five years, says that if Indian fabrics can be made popular internationally why not Bangladeshi fabrics.

The forthcoming event will also give a chance to new talents to showcase their designs alongside the internationally known names. Four local design schools have been invited to show the work of their best students. “ We asked the students to create designs made from material present in the country” says Yearbury. “We were stunned. They were so good. I am really looking forward to seeing how my French partners respond when they see them”.

Yearbury's enthusiasm about Bangladesh is quite obvious. According to her all the people from the French side, the designers and the organisers in particular, have shown great interest in projecting a positive image of Bangladesh. Shaon, former Miss Bangladesh and a model who has found a place in international catwalks, has been chosen as the local model. “She is beautiful and has such a lovely personality”, says Yearbury. She admits that it has been quite a mission trying to organise such an exclusive event. “It is hard work but I work with great people,” says Yearbury who believes there are many things Bangladesh possesses that can put it on the map.

-Aasha M. Amin


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