For The Love of Kamdani and Modernizing It


Hi guys and a happy Wednesday to you! We, Californians are begging for some rain so that the drought conditions improve and we can take long showers again. lol. I think a little rain is in the forecast this afternoon iA. Right now at 4:00 a.m., I  have the fireplace lit, got my cats warming next to it all the while I listen to some healing music on YouTube and write this post. It’s going to be a great day iA.

To continue the Sub-Continent Embroidery Week, today; I wanted to share some information on kamdani. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, kamdani was called “Chamki” embroidery around Karachi bazaars because kamdani work is literally shiny and metallic. The name evolved into badla, then fardhi embroidery to kamdani or mukaish embroidery, which is what the embroidery is called today. Like any other embroidery,  some like an extra ‘heavy’ look and some like the ‘light’ look when it comes to their outfits.

Kamdani is a one of the go-to options for wedding attire and bridals. While some like the cheaper Kamdani-only look, others like to mix Kamdani with zari or zardozi (wire work) to give it a more luxurious aka heavy look.

Some History

Kamdani is essentially a metal work technique (some people refer to it as  metal applique) and comes in two metallic colors-gold and silver.  A flattened metallic wire, called ‘badla taar’ is pierced through the cloth or threaded with a needle and twisted to create patterns. In the past, real silver and gold wires were used for this work, referred to as ‘real work’.  However,  a variety of threads and metals are used now.


Kamdani work had flourished under the Mughal ruler,  Akbar. The artisans were encouraged to come up with new designs. However, it saw a decline under Aurangzeb’s rule. Then, this work saw a revival under the Nawabs of Awadh, who were extremely fond of gold and heavily embellished clothes. Kamdani work is now done all over the Sub-Continent on women’s 3-piece suits, sarees, dupattas, and bridals.

Kamdani Today and It’s Future

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, kamdani was also used with silk chunri work (See HERE) and on plain georgette or chiffon fabric, which was very wedding appropriate, but is totally outdated. While Kamdani embroidery is mostly used with chikankari now, or by itself, I thought it would be fun to share some ideas on how to creatively modernize it further.


I love, love, love what Sonam Kapoor is doing with kamdani/mukaish work in the first outfit. For lenghas creatively mixing different embroideries is genius. How about similar to this dress, have a kamdani spray on the dupatta, a metallic blouse, and a beautiful chikankari lengha or gharara?



I know how expensive a full kamdani saree is going to cost people. However, there are numerous bazaars in Karachi, where you can get this work done without the designer-price tag. To modernize it, pair the lovely kamdani saree with some zari or zardozi (wire work) blouse or worked crop-top choli. I would totally suggest going geometric on the blouse to contrast the floral flourish of the kamdani designs on the saree or vice versa.


Kamdani Suits:

Now I know upper-middle class in Pakistan and Pakistanis living abroad would avoid the traditional heavy and shiny kamdani embroidery like a plague. But, how about giving it some personality by purchasing some light fabric that has a pretty pink floral pattern, and getting silver kamdani work done on that? I don’t have pictures because this a completely novel idea. However, do look into a patterned silk or georgette fabric and getting some kamdani embroidery done on it.

Accessorizing It!

Now, comes the fun part–accessories. I love, love, love investing in some metallic designer heels because as a Pakistani-American, who wears traditional clothes, they go perfectly with our colors and the embroidery. How about accessorizing the lovely kamdani with some pastel Eventually Pumps (See HERE) or accentuating the metallic colors with some metallic Sunny Sandals (See HERE ) or the NuNakedStraight sandal (See HERE). For some arm candy, no one can add a modern edge to something traditional like Alexander McQueen. Check out SOME of his pre-loved pieces HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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