When we speak of "fashion",the synoynms that line up in our mental dictionary on a parallel note are "trend","fad",and more often than not, "style". Style,though, is a blatant misappropriation for fashion because style is a more individualistic stance. Fashion, on the other hand, is a more popularized form of expression and is infatuously linked with a mass-appeal peculiar to it. The boundaries between fashion and style are fuzzy still and we do not exactly know when a particular style comes into fashion or when a particular fashion or trend reflects itself in a style of dressing up.But when a style scales the heights of mass-appeal and evolves into a fashion statement, a generous quantum of credit should be given to the person who initiated the style.And when such an evolution happens,individuality breathes a whiff of fresh air into the glitzy monotony of the fashion industry- for even fashion goes out of fashion and seeks inspiration. Considering the scenario of international haute couture, it would not be too much of an exaggeration to give ace Bangladeshi designer, Bibi Russell, her due credit for throwing the doors of the fashion market open to the "gamcha" style- it is essentially her brainchild and fuels her creativity to brandish a magnificent couture range one can only drool over.
The gamcha is a very pertinent symbol of our national heritage, an heirloom passed down from our cultural ancestors as it were.What makes Russell's fashion sensibility all the more enlivening is that it effortlessly departs from the hallowed precincts of eliticism and brings fashion down to the streets. Bibi is rooted to her soil and to the people of her land. In the dark labyrinth of the poverty which plagues her country, she discovers beauty and she embraces it in her weaves. She considers the gamcha weavers or rickshaw-artistes as her muses.Her life is a life of devotion-a devotion to the cause of putting Bangladesh and her heritage on the international map under the slogans, "Fashion For Development and Positive Bangladesh".She toils to advance the plight of hand-woven textile industries and its workers in her native Bangladesh.
Bibi believes that the beauty of the gamcha lies in its diversity.It is a functional fashion accessory,the gamcha being conventionally used to wipe the sweat off one's body.However,it bridges invisible social gaps whether it is tied around a rickshaw-walla's waist or a student's neck.What's more,it never goes out of fashion-use it as a headwrap or cover up to avoid sunburns,the demand for the gamcha is overwhelming.As regards Bibi's contribution, much of the sweat has been drained into elevating the gamcha to the world of haute couture.Bibi feels tied down by the need to catch sustainable national and international market for the gamcha so that the hard work of the weavers are valued.It is mind-boggling how something as simple and minimalistic as a gamcha is the thematic corpus of an apparently high-fallutin couture range.
Whether Bibi manages to champion her cause or not,is a tale she lets her achievements spin.Her couture-creation is geared at preservation of heritage, fostering creativity, providing employment opportunities, empowering the rural woman and of course, the eradication of poverty. Her couture house is an employment hub to thousands of weavers and she has organized many exhibitions in Europe, supported by the UNESCO.In her Colombo Fashion Week 2012 collection, the shoes, accessories and other significant everything is made out of gamcha and it is her tribute to gamcha-weavers and rickshaw artistes.We do hope that Bibi manages to impact the budding designers of tomorrow on preserving the rich history and tradition of handloom by creating diversity in colour and style.
|BIBI WITH A FEW OF HER FASHION DIVAS|
ABOUT THE AUTHOR :-
A FASHION FANATIC BY HEART, ARITRA CHATTERJEE IS PURSUING HIS BACHELORS IN PSYCHOLOGY FROM ASUTOSH COLLEGE, KOLKATA. THE PART TIME PAINTER AND GRAPHOLOGIST IS ONE OF THE CHIEF COLUMNISTS FOR ExPRESS MAGAZINE. SOME OF HIS OTHER ARTICLES ARE AS FOLLOWS :-