Designer Focus: Bunto Kazmi

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Today’s topic is extra special to me. My loyal readers are probably sick of hearing this and may know this like they know their social security number.  In this post I will talk all about my favorite Pakistani designer, Bunto Kazmi. The obsession started in my high school/college days (see HERE). Being a tomboy as a child, I never imagined my wedding, however, seeing pictures of her work on the internet made me imagine being a bride. This was in the 1990’s, so there was no social media, and even fewer websites covering Pakistani fashion. But, her work stood out to me. And now the mild admiration has slowly turned into a full-fledged obsession. Yes, I not only follow her on social media, but I also manage a Facebook page based on her bridal (mostly) work. Yes, in my free time, I become the doe-eyed fan who examines endlessly the wedding pictures of Pakistani elite, all to see her latest embroideries that she famously scrutinize through a magnifying glass before they are handed to the families.

What do I know about her and her designs? Having the “luck” to see three of her designs in person AND witness their luxurious detailing and intricate craftsmanship, I can really get a sense of her work ethic as a designer. She has a predilection for tradition, mostly based on the by-gone era of Persian and Mughal Empires. Her fashion and design tenets are commended as a perfectionist’s craft. No media hype and advertising for this lady-only her work does the talking. Most of her clients are both young and mature brides-to-be, who are more than happy to specify nothing more than their preferred color palettes, and leave the intricacies to the designer. Yes, you have heard it right. There are no samples to look through. Just trust on her aesthetics. Since each bride is given individual  consideration, Bunto Aunty’s designs are often unique and reflective of her vision for the bride. The bride and her family only see the final outfit once it’s completed.

Taught by her mother-in-law, Sughra Kazmi, her couture is in a league of its own. Most of Pakistani designers, with an exception of one or two, get their inspiration from the runways of Paris or world arts or architecture. Her inspirations are gleaned from the sub-continent heritage, royal courts of Indian and Persia, and folklore transcribed tirelessly onto different type of expensive fabrics. She herself says she is not fond of experimenting with bridals. However, after seeing her apprentice/daughter-in-law’s designs, her label, although rarely, produces one-of-a-kind outfits for those modern brides.  However, Bunto Aunty’s enterprise is based on traditional and beautiful bridal/formal wear. Her couture is expensive, but if seen as heirloom pieces that can be passed from mother to daughter, they can be considered as a priceless article worthy the investment.

Not much of a Pret designer and true to her love of heritage art, she has taken to creating large tapestries for clients as well. She had been designing shawls so this was a very organic move for her. Her hand-embroidered tapestries take up to a year-and-a-half to complete and capture kings on horses or my personal favorite-the famous landmarks of Karachi.

Besides the exquisite and elaborate craft she contributed to the industry, she has also introduced the fashion world with various embroidery methods and designs. The circular kamdani you see on her bridals are purely her concepts and so are the embroidered rosettes that you mostly see on Valima (Reception) brides.The gorgeous tukriyaan (see HERE) work we see in her bridal ghararas are often styled with a long, heavily embellished shirt and dupatta. She does experiment with chatta patti, but tukriyaan is a far more complex method and probably one of her top choices for bridals.

One thing I notice is that when she does Baraat (Wedding) bridals, her colors are often deep (mostly shades of red or orange) and include Mughal influences. Whereas, her Valima (Reception) bridals are often in pastel colors and feature Persian influences. I haven’t seen many Mehndi (pre-wedding) outfits of hers since I am sure few bridals can afford to pay the price for it other than for the Baraat and Valima. Also, because of the nature of her bridals, it can take up to a year to get the dress ready for your wedding day, so plan accordingly.

Well, I hope I have given you a glimpse of the fashion world of Bunto Kazmi. I can’t wait to get my bridal wear from her when I get married. Happy Shopping!!

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