Welcome to Dhaka! – Musarrat Rahman

This designer makes us travel through her clothes and shows us the history of a population often exploited from fashion itself. “I was always into fashion as a kid, but I couldn’t draw at all so I didn’t think I had the creative talent needed to pursue a design education or career. I remember seeing Rupaul one day as a kid and thinking “Wow this gorgeous, glamorous lady has dark-skin and is tall just like me!” – that was it, I fell in love and that’s what started my lifelong obsession with drag. As a teenager I got into helping out drag queens in my hometown of Dhaka, Bangladesh with makeup and clothes. In Bangladesh the LGBTQI community is constantly under threat from the law and extremism since being gay is still a criminal offence so we had to keep these parties really secretive and on the down-low. I’m a really tall girl at 6ft so some of the queens would always raid my closet and borrow my shoes but we would still have to improvise a lot and make many of our own costumes for the performances. My sewing was absolutely awful then so I decided to do a diploma in fashion design and absolutely fell in love with the whole process of it – from research to development to final product. After my diploma, I pursued a BA in Fashion Design which I just finished a few months ago. I recently started my label right after graduation.”

What kind of materials and textures do you use? It really depends on the mood of the collection but I love to work with locally and ethically sourced textiles from Bangladesh. In my country, weavers are paid poorly for all their hard work but they produce the most amazing results. I’m trying to work with more weavers directly so I can ensure that all the fabric I use is ethically produced. I think the days of fast fashion are over; people want to buy clothes that are well-designed, high quality garments that have been made without any exploitation.

What inspires you the most? I’m always very influenced by my surroundings. I grew up in the world’s most densely populated and fastest growing city which is Dhaka and it was absolutely crazy. It’s so loud, chaotic and colourful. Everyone is always dressed up to the nines in brights, clashing prints and gold – Bengalis love gold! Now I live in London which is a super cool city. The weather is shit, but the people are amazing. It’s always so inspiring walking down any street in London because you can see and feel all the history there is in it.

Where does your passion come from? I love doing research to develop an idea in my head and I love seeing that idea come to life afterwards, I think the constant learning I get to do through research is what I’m most passionate about and what inspires me the most.

It’s easy to be a young designer in the fashion world? What’s the hardest thing? It’s hard to keep up sometimes, things are happening so fast around you! Nowadays it’s also very important to be able to socialize and market yourself which I find hard to do sometimes as I can be quite shy around people I don’t really know. We live in such a social media driven world that sometimes I find it hard to keep up.

 What’s the concept of your latest collection? This collection is inspired by the chaos, colour and beauty of Dhaka city. This most densely packed metropolis has an incomparable energy as well as a vibrant and unique sense of street style. It is the people of Dhaka that have inspired this collection, the vivid colours of life brightly projected across the concrete skyline.

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