Monday, June 20, 2011

Young Kashmiri designer makes waves in fashion world

(I wrote this one in 2007. Wow, time just flies.

New Delhi: He travels the fastest who travels alone. And up-and-coming designer from Nigeen area of Srinagar Zubair Kirmani is no exception to the axiom. Zubair may have embarked on the journey all alone but today he is a name to reckon with in the fashion industry in a short span of time and his creations are nothing but his metier. It is a triumph of sorts. Only few would dispute his aptitude and genius with apparel. But he refuses to sit on his laurels and bends over backwards to leave his imprints in the razzle-dazzle world of fashion for which he deserves unalloyed encomia, if nothing more.

Today, he calls it a mirror image of his inner-self that has taken an artistic form. It is an expression designer Zubair Kirmani coined to describe his first-ever dynamic label BOUNIPUN driven by his past experiences in his hometown Kashmir, as he forayed into the fashion industry to put on view the collection at the India’s biggest fashion savvy event-- the Wills lifestyle India Fashion Week (WLIFW). Born and brought up in Kashmir, Zubair Kirmani’s BOUNIPUN—in other words Chinar leaf- reflected the kaleidoscopic times in the state from worse to normal and at the same time the rising hope among its people through the inimitable apparel. “Having spent a large slice of my life watching the changing shades of Chinar leaves in the Valley, I just have brought my inside out in the form of BOUNIPUN and the collection has brought alive my inner feelings,” says the designer. The prominent shades of blacks, grey and whites revealing gloom, stability and hope in his BOUNIPUN collection symbolised both his passion and emotional bond to his hometown and his aesthetic sense, which is devoid of the erstwhile traditional Kashmiri outfit embroidered pheran (gown) and scarf coupled with jewellery. Zubair’s experimentation with Kashmiri tradition in the form of BOUNIPUN is contemporary. Zubair debuted BOUNIPUN in the 2006 WLIFW when he was part of Hi-5 category a group of five new designers. But, the existence of the label actually goes back to the time when Zubair was a student of Class 12th.

“One fine day while drawing the leaves on my t-shirt, I thought of writing the name BOUNIPUN. I somehow compiled the name. Now, I have also registered it under several Acts to build a brand,” he says. BOUNIPUN sent buyers and audience into a feeding frenzy when models showcasing his light embroidered and less embellishments exhibited with scintillating silhouettes strutted the catwalk. Going down the memory lane, this reporter was overwhelmed when she saw an array of buyers belonging to different countries had flooded this new designer’s hothouse atmosphere of stall despite the outlets of fashion luminaries such as Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani and Rajesh Pratap Singh, among others. The label delivers subtle collections experimenting with textiles. Zubair has created a niche for himself with his signature surface ornamentation that makes his creations resourceful, discreet and elegant.

BOUNIPUN speaks volumes of Zubair’s forte as a talented fashion designer, especially because he had done training in fashion from not a very famed institute as NIFT. But BSc from a little-known institute in Bangalore. “When I was in class 6th, I started reading magazines, which carried photos displaying all kinds of razzmatazz. Then I used to make leaves and draw paintings on T-shirts. Gradually, I picked up a bit and became serious as I got into class12th; I began approaching tailors to know more about fashion,” recalls Zubair amid peals of laughter. “In fact, whenever I asked anyone about fashion in Kashmir, they criticized me. For any Kashmiri, fashion was something like wearing bikinis or shorts only,” says Zubair. “Fashion is beautiful provided ideas are intrinsically woven and systematically implemented into the collection; fashion is how you live. If you wear good things you will love it,” he believes.

BOUNIPUN primarily focused together on both contemporary minimalism and classic heritage from its roots. The brand rediscovered importance of crafted detailing in his avant-garde collection. The brand’s metier lies in sophisticated women’s western line and men’s fashion formals. “I do minimal changes in my new collection rather than making rash changes every season. All my apparel on the fashion shows since 2006 hardly have any major changes, except for some addition or subtraction in geometrical motives, recreation of detailing,” he affirms. Zubair, who belongs to Nigeen area in Srinagar, also has to his credit a mixed qualification background, though he left the degrees halfway in an attempt to devote more time to his most favored beat of fashion.

“My parents wanted me to secure a BSc degree in Electronics. I studied Electronics for a year in Kashmir. Unable to concentrate, I left for Bangalore to pursue Engineering. It continued for a year until I met with an accident,” he reveals. The designer adds: “It was a blessing in disguise for me because while I was recuperating, I told my parents I am not going to follow it and successfully managed to convince them. I got a chance to learn and develop professional skills in fashion when I finally started working with some choreographers. It was when I was doing the course in fashion in Bangalore.”

Zubair proudly says, “Fashion gave me a chance to bring out my creative instincts, which both science and engineering failed to do. And I am lucky because I began my career with Quintessential (Boun) Chinar, which has always inspired me and triggered a lot of poetic imagination in me.”

To a poser about his role model, Zubair says, “When I started, I was inspired by Rohit Bal, and Tarun Tahiliani . However, designers don't generally have any mentors as they always look forward to coming up with something new. Similarly, I developed my creation, which is unique in its existence. I do make mistakes and make strenuous efforts to improve upon it with each trial.”

When asked about his collections he has come up with so far, Zubair says, “The focus was mainly on interplay with subtle sensuality given by the effect of surface transparency. They were created by the use of natural fabrics crafted with motifs inspired by Kashmiri tradition, the purity of white remains undisputed with use of unadulterated natural hues.”

Zubair now wishes to develop his own signature in Kashmir and setting up some units in the Valley.

“Kashmir has a lot of potential in handicrafts and handloom products such as shawls and others. I want to ease the techniques in embroidery in the Valley, revive Kashmiri shawls and modernize embroidery to give them a new contemporary look. I will start with garments and my units in the Valley will be in coordination with my Delhi office,” he suggests.

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