Designer Focus: Bunto Kazmi

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In this post, I will talk all about a famous Pakistani designer, Bunto Kazmi. My obsession with Pakistani bridal fashion started with learning about her 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 in the early days of 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. And now the mild admiration has slowly turned into a full-fledged obsession. Yes, in my free time, I become the doe-eyed fan who examines endlessly the wedding pictures of Pakistani elite, all to see the latest embroideries and trends in wedding wear.

What do I know about Bunto Kazmi’s designs? She definitely 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. 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 heard it right. There are no samples to look through. Just trust in her aesthetics and business sense. Since each bride is given individual consideration, Bunto Kazmi’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 the Pakistani designers and their team of workers get their inspiration from the runways of Paris or world arts or architecture. Bunto Kazmi’s team are gleaned from the sub-continent heritage, royal courts of the India Sub-Continent and Persia, and cultural folklore transcribed tirelessly onto different types of expensive fabrics. She herself says she is not fond of experimenting with bridals. However, after seeing her apprentice/daughter-in-law’s designs, I can tell she has also worked with modern brides. Her couture is expensive (a few thousand dollars to be exact), but if seen as heirloom pieces that can be passed from mother to daughter, they can be considered as priceless articles.

Not much of a Pret designer and true to her love of heritage art, she has taken to creating large tapestries and formals for clients as well. Designing shawls 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 her name she gave to the exquisite and elaborate craft, her label has also introduced the fashion world with various embroidery methods and designs. The circular kamdani you see on Bunto Kazmi’s bridals or the large silk thread embroidered rosettes that you mostly see on Valima (Reception) events were seen on her brides first. 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 chattapatti, 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. 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.