Cover Story

The First Lady of High Fashion

The fashion industry of Bangladesh is thriving courtesy to the immense talent immersed in it. Undoubtedly one of the very best among them is hailed by many as the queen of couture – Sarah Karim. With the wedding season and Eid festivities coming our way, she has brought out a gorgeous collection that is simply a treat to see. Sarah sits down with Colors and talks about the collection and all that happens behind the glitz and glam of the couture curtains.

By Rafa Mashiyat Zahid

Sarah Karim on the cover of COLORS’ April 2022 issue.Wardrobe: Sarah Karim Couture Styling & Fashion Direction: Faisal Tushar Makeover: Enamul Hoque Masum Photographer: Mahinuzzaman Piyan

Sarah Karim has been working her magic for over a decade now. The academician turned fashion designer has given the industry some jaw dropping collections and has perfected the couture culture in Dhaka. Her eye for details and need for perfection in every piece she brings out is what sets her apart as one of the most prolific designers of the country. 

Conceptualizing and articulating the needs and aspirations of the season is the first step for Sarah for any collection she puts out. Be it the biannual bridal collections or the very specifically themed FDCB collections that aims to bring light to Bangladeshi culture or fashion heritage. With over 35 years of history behind the brand, Sarah has developed an intuition about what the market needs at any point in time. Therefore, she says it’s easier now to work around those needs while also experimenting with different cuts and styles.

Talking about her preferences when it comes to the designing process, she says “I am very particular about the color palettes I use for my designs, or the cuts even. Adding to that, no matter how experimental I am being, I never design something I personally would not wear. This is why customers know that whatever I am bringing to them is 100% backed by me”

Furthermore, she addresses the recent shift in brides who are now leaning towards home grown designers rather than opting out for ordering in from outside the country “I think the customers now understand that the designers here are just as capable” She also talks about how shopping locally for the outfit for your big day might be a very smart decision as far as the fitting for these elaborate pieces go. Whenever we are ordering something, we have to put blind trust that the outcome will be perfect along with every detail and the fitting. However, if it is not perfect, there is probably nothing one can do. Instead if the piece is ordered from local designers they would make the clients come in for fittings. Sarah explains “I am a perfectionist. I need to know that my client is absolutely content with what I am delivering. They can come in for as many fittings as they need for the outfit to be perfect in every way. And we work very hard to make sure of it”

As for the most recent collection, Sarah has four distinct sets hitting the market. Since this year the Eid celebrations and the Bridal season are overlapping, she came up with the concept of designing pieces for the bride and her bridesmaids. This way she gets to bring out the gorgeous, intricate and elaborate bridal pieces as the focus of each set, and also more casual festive pieces which the bridesmaids would showcase.

The four sets of the collection are designed around the four events that we see in every Bangladeshi weddings – Engagement, Holud, Wedding and the Reception to tie it all off. The four sets are versatile as far as color palettes, cuts, or the embroidery go. For the Engagement set we can see lots of pastel tones and crystal work. The Holud the color palette was kept to the classic yellows, oranges and off whites, with gota and mirror work. Classic reds and maroons were the focus in the Wedding set along with beautiful zardosi work done all over the pieces. Lastly the reception set was done in deep rich tones of emerald and silvers with heavy embroidery. 

For this collection, Sarah has partnered up with Jarwa House for all the stunning pieces the models are wearing along with her outfits. As usual, Jarwa House does not disappoint when it comes to the gorgeousness of the pieces they provided for the outfits.

Sarah’s uniqueness comes in the form of using tried and true traditional motifs and gorgeous zardosi or karchupi work along with very modern, streamlined cuts and styles. Fusion is her forte and what she loves experimenting with. Even though she loves working with brides and creating the larger than life pieces of art that are their outfits, she would love to work with more casual wear as well “I think there is a huge market there and experimenting with some fusion wear that is casual is something I am looking forward to” She also expressed interest in working with the Dhaka muslin that is being developed simply because of how much history and culture there is behind it. With such an illustrious career behind her, there is no doubt that whatever venture she chooses to embark on next will be just as amazing and successful.

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