Last Friday’s engagement of Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari, daughter of late prime minister Benazir Bhutto and former president Asif Zardari, was Pakistan’s glitterati event of the year. Of course, it would have invited much more fanfare had it not been for Covid-19 restrictions.
To make sure the event was “safer” for most, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — the party of Pakistan’s most illustrious political family, the Bhuttos — conditioned the attendance of the invited guests to a Covid-19-negative certificate 24 hours prior to the function.
How much of it was business-like can be gleaned that not even Bakhtawar’s brother, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who is the PPP chairperson, could make it because he himself is in isolation after contracting coronavirus.
But this did not detract from the highlight of the show — Bakhtawar, the bride-to-be — and what she would be wearing.
Bakhtawar of course, draws much attention to herself for being the world’s first baby born to a sitting chief executive, her late mother and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, in 1990.
Daily Dawn reported there was plenty of conjecture surrounding what she would be wearing on her big day given there were no clues, images released from a designer’s atelier and BTS videos.
And yet, when Bakhtawar uploaded her engagement portrait with her fiancé, under a glorious pink bougainvillea tree, fashion aficionados were quickly able to discern that her tea pink outfit, with an ornately embroidered shawl draped over it, was the work of designer Nida Azwer.
The shawl, particularly, was quintessential Nida. The designer has always had a penchant for luxurious shawls with miniature Mughal scenes etched out on them with the daintiest hand embroideries.
Bakhtawar had her own particular vision regarding how she wanted her engagement shawl to be, taking it beyond Nida’s usual Mughal scenery.
“It was all very exciting for me as a designer because I was creating a detailed bespoke piece,” says Nida.
“Bakhtawar particularly wanted her mother to be a part of her day and we sat and decided how she wanted the shawl to be. I had to research a lot and look at the pictures that she provided me with, creating detailed sketches before translating them with cloth and thread.”
Describing the shawl, Nida says, “The shawl has two pallus, telling two different stories. One side is embroidered with images from Bakhtawar’s past; her parents’ wedding day with her mother sitting on one side and her father on the other, she and her siblings playing in children’s push-cars, an image of her grandmother, a desk with Pakistan’s flag on it, a study with books on the shelves, Bakhtawar with her cellphone and McDonald’s fries and nuggets perhaps because she and her siblings used to like eating them!
The other side of the shawl captures Bakhtawar’s current life and her future; how she met her fiancé, how he proposed, her home, her garden, her pet dogs.”
“And then, the central panel is etched with the sun and the sky, with beautiful bids flying on it, holding together the two sides to Bakhtawar’s world.”
So how did Nida end up dressing Bakhtawar Bhutto on one of the biggest days of her life?
“She approached me,” she states simply. “I have dressed her sister before. It takes a certain kind of person to forego bling and opt for a design that is entirely based on craft. I think Bakhtawar is like that, she enjoys fine detailing.”
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