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7 April, 2017 00:00 00 AM

Dressing for Boishakh

By Limana Solaiman Mridha
Dressing for Boishakh

Pohela Boishakh is almost upon us and celebrating this traditional festival to herald in the Bengali New Year has become an inherent part of our culture. We dress up early in the morning and visit the various celebratory locations where cultural institutions such as Chhayanaut and the Faculty of Fine Arts of Dhaka University organise cultural functions and colourful parades, alongside traditional fairs to welcome the first day of the Bengali calendar.

For fashionistas, it is another occasion to bring out their artistic side to explore and pair up the old with the new in terms of themes and colour selection. Many designers choose to stick to the simple yet elegant red and white combination, while others incorporate elements from other cultures and bold colours to brighten up the festive mood. If you take a walk in any shopping street or mall, everywhere you look, you will find the mannequinsin the window sporting outfits celebrating this festival. 
The Weekend magazine scouted some local brand stores to see what they have to offer us for Boishakh 1424 and here is what they had on display.
Maheen Khan’s fashion house Mayasir is sticking to the traditional red and white colour theme, because that is what her clients prefer. Khan has been a part of the Bangladesh fashion scene for about 25 years now and her unique designs and boutique house have a cult following. She has managed to incorporate our traditional hand-stitched embroidery to her designs to promote Bengali elements in her couture. About her new Pohela Boishakh collection, Khan said: Pohela Boishakh is a secular festival that is immensely popular among people from all walks of life. I wanted to create designs that connect with the customers and are in line with our Bangladeshi heritage and culture. We have launched a very contemporary selection for the modern women for Boishakh. The styles are very bohemian, at the same time smart and casual. I shied away from the traditional three piece salwar-kameez sets and came up with pieces our young customers prefer. They want to be more versatile with their ensembles, they want to create their own compositions, you know _ pull together single pieces that they can wear with trousers, skirts or just traditional flared pants and churidaars.
So, I did single pieces that can be mixed and matched with avant-garde cuts that are structured, but are not form fitting. The function of an outfit is very important and nowadays, women want pockets or they want buttons rather than hooks, and designs that would make a statement but at the same time not too overbearing. We have used flowers of Bangladesh with lyrics from our poets. We have used krishnachura (royal poinciana), lotus and rose motifs, and also incorporated Bangla calligraphy. I have not incorporated these designs in my sarees, as I feel a saree is timeless and also an investment. I do pieces that are hand embroidered or hand appliquéd, a piece that you can wear all throughout the year. I am a revivalist and I have worked with traditional weaves and embroidery of Bangladesh, and I have tried to experiment with design application.
Over the years, we have monitored our clientele and what they like. We have tried bright colours and different hues, we have tried pastels, ivory and whites. But then we have come to realise that people actually like the vibrancy of different shades of red, which is the predominant celebratory colour in our culture, and people still prefer it for Boishakh celebrations.
The designs and motifs of Yellow scream youth and the ensembles are geared towards the younger age group. This Boishakh, the popular local brand is promoting sublimation prints of our architectural heritage. Shubhagata Bhattacharjee Shuvo, a junior executive designer at the ethnic wear department said: The demand for this type of collection is high. For women, we have come up with a palazzo pant that has extra flare to add‘oomph’ to the design. We have used bright colours paired with white to break out of the norm of just red and white. Materials such as cotton, georgette and mesh fabrics have been used, keeping the sultry temperatures in mind.
The Kay Kraft brand has been around for almost 19 year now, since beginning its journey as a home-based boutique house. Producing mainly handloom based handcrafted fashion wear, it engages a significant number of grassroots level artisans and small entrepreneurs from all over the country. Saila Noor, a designer for Kay Kraft, said: We have used mainly folk motifs for our Boishakh collection. Artworks such as traditional patachitra (patua) and madhubani (mithila) paintings, flowers and also geometric patterns are used in the outfits. For the last few years, we are doing our Boishakh designs in vibrant colours, such as orange, magenta, green, also some red and white are there for those who stickler for tradition. We also have family sets with matching outfits for the entire family. Also, the same motifs are used in sarees, shirts, tops, kameez and panjabis. We also have couple’s outfits for various occasions.
This time, Aarong’s collection features designs that emulate the geometrical patterns of mola, the traditional artwork of the indigenous Kuna people of Panama and Colombia. Fayez Hassan, executive designer at Aarong, said: Apart from mola art, we have worked on two more themes that include clip art and gamchha (check and stripe) print sarees. Clipart has been used to bring about a youthful look to the series and add the ‘back-to-school feel.’ People have experimented with gamchha material in clothing before, it is not something new, but our blouse pieces that are paired with the sarees are quite unique, with multicolour floral patterns that bring out the contrast with the gamchha check. We also have another series where we have introduced pastoral elements in panjabis, such as scenes from a village fair. 
Since the temperatures will be quite hot during Boishakh, we have worked with cotton mainly and added aari (sparkles) work and beads to bring about the look of arts and crafts. We have tried other colour schemes before, but this time we have been loyal to the conventional Boishakh colour themes, but added vibrant blues and greens to the designs.
Other brands like Raang, Bibiana, Deshal, Anjan’s and Aranya also have their special Boishakh collections and they are all colourful and remarkable, too.
For budget shoppers, if you take a walk down Baily Road, you will find many small boutiques displaying fashion wear from freelance designers and these apparels will not break your bank. Another good place to shop on a budget is Mohammadpur’s Tajmahal Road. Many shops with affordable and good quality clothes are there in a row, and you will definitely find something good to satisfy your taste. If you are on the hunt to grab a trendy panjabi or kurti for a reasonable price, Aziz Supermarket at Shahbagh is the place for you. There are numerous shops to choose from and you will also find T-shirts celebrating the occasion. 

Photos: Courtesy

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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