A Haute Couture event raising charity for children, inspired by the Mother Teresa Charity Fund, took place at the city’s Le Meridien Hotel on Saturday, where strutting their stuff on the catwalk were a group of people we may be more used to seeing in far more staid circumstances.
Indeed, it was a cross-section of the diplomatic corps stationed in Dhaka that took a break from their usual business of negotiations and maintaining friendly relations among nations to don the creations of six Bangladeshi designers -- Farah Anjum Bari, Shaibal Shaha, Lipi Khandker, Kuhu Plamondon, Chandana Dewan and Maheen Khan.
The programme kicked off to the soothing tunes of the American band ‘Soul Shack’ on the rooftop of the chic hotel where the audience represented a cross-section of Dhaka’s intelligentsia containing artists, journalists, the fashionable elite, and of course the faces of the city’s Diplomatic Enclave, and expatriate hotspots.
Sandra Tabajara, the spouse of the Brazilian Ambassador to Bangladesh, who herself was also a key figure in organising the event, set the mood for the evening ahead with a graceful speech, lauding the fact that everyone related to the event was “working for children who are in great need”.
Maheen Khan, long regarded highly for not just her creations using indigenous fabrics like khadi, but also her personal elegance and grace, echoed Sandra’s sentiments, reaffirming with her that the greatest joy does indeed spring, not from acts motivated by the self, but rather a cause greater than ourselves.
That took us into the main event if you like – a bold and magnificent fashion show where some of the most prominent ambassadors, the ones conveying endlessly to improve our human rights record or something, threw off inhibitions and rocked the attires they were asked to promote.
Later another set of embassy heads along with their families graced the floor showcasing their national costumes -- Russia, Bhutan, China, Iran, the Maldives, Morocco, Myanmar, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Vietnam and obviously Brazil.
After this segment, the ramp closed with all the models on stage where Sandra Tabajara once again thanked everyone related to the show, lauding their efforts and support for a greater cause.
UNB bumped into numerous key figures who partook in different portions of the event, including the hosts, designers and models before and after the event.
Ambassador Joao Tabajara de Oliveira Junior, prior to the fashion show, mentioned that he was ‘enthusiastic’ about the whole event and said he always feels great to join people to work for common yet noble goals, in this case, helping the children.
The Ambassador also credited the fruitfulness of the show to his spouse, Sandra, saying “She did an amazing job working for the needy children.”
Kuhu Plamondon, whose work was due featuring in the fashion show later, said she was too excited as her longtime friend, Tehmina Khan along with Shaheen and Sabrina, would be rocking stylish dresses designed by her (Kuhu) and also expressed happiness for being connected with an event for good reason.
Everyone related to this show should be inspired by their works, she added.
Maheen Khan said she feels proud as through this program the designers are representing Bangladesh.
“At the end of the day, I feel lucky for being part of a great team,” she added.
Lipi Khandker, another prominent designer, mentioned that it was her first work in any charity show and it gave her a good feeling.
Chandana Dewan, the woman behind the label CHONDON, said the show she witnessed was a lively one, lauding the models who worked for free for a greater cause.
To Shaibal Saha, the crafts and fashion designer of Indigo, the whole programme was an ‘unorthodox experience’ for which he credited the hosts saying that events of such scale should happen more frequently.
“It’s an unbelievable journey which I expect to return to,” the designer said.
Managing Director of Bay Eastern Ltd. Farah Anjum Bari joined UNB prior to the show, saying she felt compelled to contribute to society and the children in need through this event.
UNB also happened to get insights from Azra Mahmood, one of the top models of the country who termed the programme as “Brilliant” and said it was indeed a great initiative and being able to be part of which is a great honour to her.
Celebrated actress Tarin, who dignified the stage walking down the ramp, also shared her views about the show with UNB. She said even though many top models of the country were absent, the event itself “set it apart as many of the embassy officials partook as models which was a great sight to enjoy.”
All this had been possible with the patronage of the Brazilian Embassy in Bangladesh, the support of the Spouses of Head of Missions (SHOM). Cosmos Group, REVIVE, Bashundhara Group, Mutual Trust Bank Limited, Dhaka Page3, Bay Developments Ltd, Bangladesh Heritage Crafts Foundation and Le Meridien Dhaka were the sponsors of the event, while United News of Bangladesh (UNB) was the media partner.