The Bangladesh Wedding Couture Week (BWCW) made its debut on 6 October at the 14th floor of Le Meridien. The show was attended exclusively by the capital's upper-class, sponsors, diplomats and expatriates.
The ambassador of Italy himself, Enrico Nunziata, took to the stage multiple times to bequeath commemorative awards to the myriad sponsors that helped bring the event together.
The production quality was severely lacking, which remains a mystery given that Dhaka doesn't suffer from scarcity when it comes to event management talent.
The entire event had the vibe of an expo rather than a formal black tie fashion gala. Thankfully the organisers had a keen eye for talent and each of the featured designers were firing all of their creative cylinders right up until the very last moments of the show.
Producers of the event clearly understood their target markets and started off the show with Jarwa House debuting their latest line of wedding jewellery.
The entire line was tasteful and smartly veered away from overusing gaudy configurations of gold and diamond just for sheer concentrated value on one set. Almost every piece had small rubies and emeralds that broke up the aesthetic monotony of gold and diamond to great effect.
Jarwa House's choice of display was also commendable; models in deep green sarees drew all the attention to the jewels. Jarwa houses opulent sets would be perfect for those who prefer a minimalist aesthetic at wedding functions without sacrificing the cultural paradigm of being dressed to the nines at such events.
An interesting palette
The theme of the first day was entirely dedicated to 'Gaye Holuds', and the prevailing colour palette of the upcoming wedding season are bright pastels and multi-colour palettes.
Over the course of the first night, the colour scheme rarely strayed except for the classic traditional whites for men and reds for women.
Sarah Karim's designs took to the stage first, her design label was the oldest and most established out of the three headliners of the event.
"The people that work for us, the artisans that do the bulk of the work, have a collective experience of almost 75 years now. This organisation was initially started by my grandmother as a charity to support the artisans and their craft," said Karim.
Right before debuting her wedding line she said, "The palette that we've set is actually bright pastel colours, chunks of yellows, some lime greens and fuschia pinks, so that's a very interesting palette to have."
"We mostly used light fabrics, organzas, muslins and net, because on that day, remember the bride likes to dance, and she doesn't need to wear something that is heavy in terms of weight."
Work wise of course, they used the traditional Gota Pakhti, which they specialise in. They also tried our hand at mirror work because it seems to be popular this entire season.
The veteran designer's experience and artistry shine through her balance of traditional compositions and modern fluidity of movement.
A refreshing male fashion line
The second fashion line of the night was essentially a show stopper set to the tune of a metal cover of 'Feeling Good.' Men aren't really catered to that overtly in South Asian fashion, and it was refreshing to see a male fashion line that champions light and fun colours for formal events.
Zurhem is a menswear luxury brand, and from the very beginning, they have had a lot of grooms coming to them. So they have always had to make a lot of suits and tuxedos for weddings. Sherwanis, punjabis, kurtas, name anything, they have made it.
"This is why we wanted to get into the Bangladesh Wedding Couture Week, it's a big platform for us because we can showcase our collection that men can wear to their weddings," said Mehruz Munir, Managing Director of Zurhem, introducing his collection.
For day one, the theme being holud and mehendi, he generously used a lot of colours.
"You will see a lot of floral embroideries and a lot of leaves, that is actually my favourite kind of work. This is a collection where I gave the most, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have had making them," he added.
A play of colours
The sister design duo that makes up the brand 'Sahar Rahman Couture' were the last to hit the stage with some of the latest designers to foray into the wedding fashion scene.
Before they unveiled their line, Amana Rahman said, "When you think of Holud, automatically fun colours are what comes to mind, and our collection is totally based on that."
Sahar Rahman added, "So we played with a lot of bright colours together, you'll see in our collection that we have used multi colours that still look so soothing to the eye."
"You'll see a lot of Ghota work, Zuri or hand thread work. We hope you love our holud collection. We have created it with so much love, especially for BWCW, and we hope you will love it too."
The 3-day fashion show was arranged per event-specific clothes, starting with Holud on day one, Wedding on day two and ending with Reception for the final day.
A disjointed event
The designers all deserve their flowers and should be lauded for trying to kickstart wedding season fashion lines in the face of stiff competition from India. The designers definitely deserve to be up there and are the sole reason the fashion show was a success.
The same cannot however be said about the event itself.
The vast majority of the space was sectioned off for the multiple booths and stalls that filled up the antechamber to the runway. Only one stall 'The Muslin' was fashion related and was selling hand-loomed silk shalwars and lehengas.
The stage and the runway area were dark and cramped, supplemented by a seating arrangement that was unconducive to viewing. The ceiling of the runway was bedecked with glitzy and reflective chandeliers, but it remained inappreciable till the stage lights came on.
When the show got underway, a live feed of the runway was being broadcasted to screens, but there was a clear issue with the colour correction, which altered up a lot of the hues and overall had a distracting effect rather than placing all the focus on the clothes, colours and jewellery.
Hopefully, the BWCW organisers will address these issues in the future so the event can become a mainstay of Dhaka's annual fashion events and foster a healthy appreciation of domestic wedding fashion brands.