Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy wearing Bunto kazmi at Oscars Main Event

Pakistani Fashion Designers at the Oscars

Sharmeen in a custom made Sana Safinaz design at the Vanity Fair Oscars after-partyIt doesn’t come off as a surprise that Obaid-Chinoy chose to wear female designers, from her clothes and her jewellery: “I am wearing Bunto Kazmi for the ceremony and will be wearing Sana Safinaz and Saniya Maskatiya for Oscar-related events. My jewellery will be done by Kiran Aman of Kiran Fine Jewellery and Sherezad Rahimtoola of Labels. I am really excited to showcase local Pakistani talent, and that too all women,” revealed Chinoy. Interestingly, all designers, like the film-maker herself, are Karachi based.

While traditionalist courtier Kazmi and the urbane Sana Safinaz hardly came off as a surprise, Maskatiya who is just a year-old with her own fashion label, definitely came as a shocker.

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy wearing Bunto kazmi at Oscars Main Event
Bunto Kazmi

“I have designed an ivory coat with gold and silver as well as resham and zari work on it. We also used the Persian motif that I was working on and had saved for a special occasion — who knew that it would be the Oscars?” says designer Bunto Kazmi. “We have used a variety of work from vasli to French knots and motif of birds to create an elegant outfit,” adds Kazmi’s daughter-in-law Sehar, who was also involved in its creation.

Sania Maskatiya

“It’s a great honour for any designer to be given such an opportunity and I feel truly humbled. I designed two traditional outfits for Sharmeen, since she had especially asked me to,” beams Maskatiya.

The first outfit was designed for the Academy Award Nominee Luncheon. The dress is a hand-embroidered (hath ari) piece in which the tree of life serves as the focal theme. “The tree has multiple local birds such as the cuckoo bird, sparrow, parrots and owl and has other elements which include butterflies and bugs, while the front is decorated with a peafowl, locally known as surkhab. The base fabric used for the dress is an exclusive Maskatiya computer-embroidered creation,” explains Maskatiya.

Sharmeen Chinoy in Sania Maskatiya at Oscars Luncheon

The young designer adds that the, “The second outfit that I designed is fit to be worn at one of the Oscar-related events. An emerald greenkameez and churidar pajama outfit embroidered in hath ari. The front of the dress depicts men going for hunting on horses using traditional archery tools. Within the narrative there are predators such as the tiger, king cobra and viper looking for prey. Other animals in the narrative are deer, rabbit and birds such as swans, geese and the woodpecker. At the back of the dress there are three boxes each depicting a different hunting scene. The inspiration was taken from ancient Mughal hunting scenes and flora and fauna of the same epoch. The technique of appliqué and hand embroidery was incorporated to create the imagery.”

Oscar Nominee Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy wears Sana Safinaz's upcoming Export Pret-a-Porter at the 84th Annual Academy Awards screening event
Sana Safinaz

Sharmeen’s outfit was chosen after careful consideration of the fact that not only does she represent Pakistan; she is also the face of modern Pakistani woman. Therefore we had to maintain a balance of western and eastern fusion. Keeping these sensibilities in mind, we designed a soft, silver-grey, front-open kurta with delicate silver and gold work. We also designed three other outfits for Chinoy to wear to various nominations, lunches and parties. These too, were a fusion of eastern and western design philosophies,” said the designer.

Sharmeen in a custom made Sana Safinaz design at the Vanity Fair Oscars after-party 2
Kiran Aman of Kiran Fine Jewellery

“Sharmeen will be wearing a pair of vintage gold earrings with diamonds and pearls that are from my ‘Time Scripts Man, Man Scripts Time’ collection. I have also designed a cuff band for her to adorn at the event. It is again in vintage gold, diamonds and pearls, with a unique clasp at the back that has the Pakistani flag attached to it with a gold rope. The flag is in white diamonds and green sapphires. I have named the piece ‘Amun’ which means peace,” states Aman.

Sherezad Rahimtoola

“Keeping in mind the historical importance of the event and Chinoy’s own profile, I have specially designed hand-crafted, long diamond earrings with rubies, a bracelet (cuff) of diamonds and rubies, a classic ruby and diamond ring and a pair of long diamond earrings in gold and enamel finish,” shares Rahimtoola. “The gem stones were selected to match Sharmeen’s ensembles,” she adds, while listing down the gems used for the documentarian’s exclusive jewellery.

When asked why the culturally sound film-maker chose these designers,

Obaid-Chinoy said, “I chose these designers for a variety of reasons. I was eager to showcase Pakistani fashion at the Oscar’s and thought that it would be ideal to wear women designers exclusively. I have also worn these designers before and have admired their work for a long time; it seemed like a perfect combination of my personal style and the message, I wish to give.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2012.

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