Woven together, the rise and fall of southern Pakistan’s Banarsi sari

Woven together, the rise and fall of southern Pakistan’s Banarsi sari
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Banarsi saris sold at Banarsi Silk Weavers Colony in Khairpur, Sindh. (AN photo by Zulfiqar Kunbhar)
Woven together, the rise and fall of southern Pakistan’s Banarsi sari
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Zafar Abbas Ansari holds up sari fabric at his shop in Banarsi Silk Weavers Colony in Khairpur, Sindh. (AN photo by Zulfiqar Kunbhar)
A boy walks past Banarsi Sari Market in Banarsi Silk Weavers Colony in Khairpur, Sindh. (AN photo by Zulfiqar Kunbhar)
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Updated 15 May 2021

Woven together, the rise and fall of southern Pakistan’s Banarsi sari

Woven together, the rise and fall of southern Pakistan’s Banarsi sari
  • Banarsi silk was a luxurious hand-woven fabric once made in the city of Khairpur, in Sindh
  • No official data exists on the history of the industry and the stories are told by the weavers themselves

SINDH: At the Banarsi Silk Weavers’ Colony in the city of Khairpur, in Sindh, 47-year-old merchant Zafar Abbas Ansari was waiting, hoping for a few additional orders of silk Banarsi saris as Eid Al-Fitr approached.
The sari is a garment native to South Asia, where a long piece of cloth is wrapped elaborately around the body — usually in cotton or silk — and worn with a matching blouse.
Although the city does not make Banarsi any longer — it is now made in Karachi, more than 400 km away — customers still come to the city to purchase the fabric.
Inside the deserted 70-year-old market — once a bustling place — Zafar’s shop is among the last three Banarsi shops left. His family is one of the 40 weaver families who brought the industry to Khairpur when they migrated from India in 1952.
“It is almost two decades since Khairpur stopped producing Banarsi saris after the industry’s collapse. However, even today, the brand is popular among customers. They keep demanding Khairpur’s brand,” Zafar told Arab News.
In its heyday, Khairpur’s Banarsi sari was synonymous with luxury, with vendors supplying the fabric not only locally but also exporting to Pakistani families living in the UK and other European countries.
Inside Zafar’s shop, unstitched pieces of colorful saris — the blouse, the petticoat and main sari fabric — are displayed. The shop shows off different varieties of saris, including the traditional katan — a plain woven fabric with pure silk threads — chiffon, as well as synthetic fabrics.
“Banarsi sari has distinction and standing,” Zafar said proudly. “It is worn by royal families because of its grace and elegance. In some families it is an essential part of the bridal trousseau.”


The price of a sari depends upon its type. The most expensive sari fabric available in the Khairpur market currently is worth Rs45,000 ($300) a piece
Khairpur’s Banarsi Silk Weavers’ Colony is named after the city of Banaras in India (now Varanasi) because of the silk weavers who migrated from there.
There are no official records, and the story of the garment comes from the weavers themselves. They say the history of the Banaras sari industry in Khairpur is linked with Ghulam Saddiquah Begum — the wife of Khairpur state’s then ruler, Mir Ali Murad Khan Talpur of the Talpur dynasty.
Saddiquah Begum herself came from Bahawalpur state, and in 1949, the weavers said, during a visit to India’s Hyderabad Deccan, she offered Mohammed Yusuf Ansari — a sari trader from Banaras — the chance to start manufacturing in Khairpur.
She is said to have offered her state’s support for the establishment of the manufacturing units required.
In 1952, about 40 families of the Ansari clan migrated from Banaras to Khairpur and sari manufacturing began on handlooms. Later, the saris were exported to other countries.
Arab News could not independently verify this information.
According to Anjum Sajjad Ansari, grandson of Muhammad Yusuf Ansari and a representative of the Banarsi Silk Weavers’ Association Khairpur, at its peak there were 400 handlooms in Khairpur. Today, not a single handloom remains.
“At Khairpur’s Banarsi Silk Weavers Colony today there are 16 houses of traditional weavers. However only three are involved in this business of selling Karachi-made fabric,” Anjum said.
Like elsewhere, the Banarsi brand was associated with pure silk thread work. Initially, Khairpur used silk imported from China, but later the silk came from Punjab’s Changa Manga as Pakistan developed hatching silkworms and silk fiber producing factories.
The whole family engaged in the manufacturing process, including silk weaving, dyeing, warping, and reeling. It took between two to three days’ work to complete a single sari.
The silk weaving industry was thriving into the 1960s.
“In 1965, Pakistan’s President Ayub Khan visited and gave incentives and subsidies that boosted the industry,” said Anjum.
“However, in the later years successive governments paid little heed to this industry, and manufacturing units were shifted to Karachi by 2000,” he said.
For Anjum, there is still a chance to revive the past glory of Khairpur.
“We have given proposals to the government at different forums. But nothing has been done yet. The Banarsi sari has become a trademark for Khairpur,” he said.
“Khairpur’s distinction was to produce only handmade silk fabric, unlike other areas where machines are involved. If the government is sincere, factories could be re-established and skilled laborers could be recalled once more from Karachi.”


Dior is set to stage its first exhibition in the Middle East

Dior is set to stage its first exhibition in the Middle East
The "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" exhibition at Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Getty Images
Updated 04 August 2021

Dior is set to stage its first exhibition in the Middle East

Dior is set to stage its first exhibition in the Middle East

DUBAI: “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” is a new fashion exhibition coming to Doha, Qatar, later this year. Designed specifically for the Middle East, the forthcoming exhibition is a celebration of the Parisian maison, which is turning 75 in December.

Mark your calendars, for the exhibition will take place from November 2021 until March 2022 at Doha’s M7 art center following successful stops in Paris, London and Shanghai.

The iconic Dior Bar suit. Getty Images

With special curation by Olivier Gabet, the Director of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the hotly-anticipated exhibition will feature a lineup of memorable pieces that have defined the heritage fashion house, such as the iconic Bar Jacket, an iconic garment instantly-recognizable by its cinched waist from Monsieur Dior’s revolutionary 1947 collection as well as other objects that fashion enthusiasts will revel in.

Also on display will be original sketches by the legendary designer for his couture collections, a baccarat blue crystal limited edition Miss Dior perfume bottle from 1947 and haute couture creations by succeeding Dior creative directors such as John Galliano, Raf Simons and Yves Saint Laurent.


Chefs Fariyal Abdullahi, Nasim Alikhani to dish up dinner for this year’s Met Gala

Chefs Fariyal Abdullahi, Nasim Alikhani to dish up dinner for this year’s Met Gala
The menu for this year's Met Gala is a collective effort by10 New York-based chefs. Supplied
Updated 03 August 2021

Chefs Fariyal Abdullahi, Nasim Alikhani to dish up dinner for this year’s Met Gala

Chefs Fariyal Abdullahi, Nasim Alikhani to dish up dinner for this year’s Met Gala

DUBAI: For the first time, the Met Gala is introducing a sustainable plant-based menu for its annual event taking place this year on Sept. 13, 2021. 

Guests will be treated to a healthy dinner curated by a group of 10 notable New York-based chefs and Instagram influencers, handpicked by Ethiopian-Swedish chef Marcus Samuelsson and Bon Appétit.

Among the chefs selected is US-Ethiopian Fariyal Abdullahi and American-Iranian Nasim Alikhani.

Abdullahi is the culinary manager of R+D Kitchen in Dallas, while Alikhani spearheads a hot spot in Brooklyn, New York, called Sofreh.

They join other New York-based chefs, cookbook authors and culinary enthusiasts Emma Bengtsson, Lazarus Lynch, Junghyun Park, Erik Ramirez, Thomas Raquel, Sophia Roe, Simone Tong and Fabian von Hauske.

“I am honored to participate in an initiative that highlights the incredible work of these 10 New York chefs at the Met Gala,” said Samuelsson in a press release issued from the Met. 

“After a difficult two years for the restaurant industry, this will showcase the work and tell the stories of a dynamic group of chefs while presenting an exciting menu of delicious, plant-based dishes. The gala offers an incomparable opportunity for emerging talent to elevate their careers and share their perspectives and craft.”

In the weeks leading up to the gala, the 10 chefs will share plant-based recipes via Instagram Reels, powered by a partnership with the photo-sharing social media platform.

The Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala that celebrates New York’s the Costume Institute’s new exhibition on a changing theme. It typically occurs on the first Monday in May, however, due to COVID-19, it is set to take place as a smaller affair on Sept. 13.


Model Josephine Skriver champions Dubai-based label in Hollywood

Model Josephine Skriver champions Dubai-based label in Hollywood
Model Josephine Skriver has walked the runway for a variety of high-end labels. Instagram
Updated 02 August 2021

Model Josephine Skriver champions Dubai-based label in Hollywood

Model Josephine Skriver champions Dubai-based label in Hollywood

DUBAI: Victoria’s Secret model Josephine Skriver is the latest celebrity to be spotted toting a design by Dubai-based accessories label L’Afshar.

Each of L’Afshar’s covetable box bags and clutches are meticulously handcrafted by Esmod graduate Lilian L’Afshar in her Dubai-based studio. 

The label’s handmade lucite clutches are instantly recognizable by their unique, structured designs and use of marbled resin and intricate mirror-work.

The brand’s clutches have been sported by everyone from Kylie Jenner and Bella Hadid to Beyonce and Alicia Keys.

The British-born Iranian designer founded her eponymous label in 2014.

She discovered her flair for bag design accidentally while making a last-minute black and red, transparent acrylic clutch for her graduation collection while studying at Esmod.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by L'AFSHAR (@lilianafshar)

Today, her mini-bags are a constant on international red carpets.

Skriver, 28, attended the 2021 Sports Illustrated issue release celebration at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, and for the occasion wore a metallic feather-trimmed mini dress, which she paired with L’Afshar’s Elle bag in silver mirror.

It has been a busy couple of weeks for the Danish model.

Shortly after the Sports Illustrated issue release event, Skriver touched down in Croatia with fellow models Shanina Shaik, Sara Sampaio, Lais Ribiero, Romee Strijd and Taylor Hill to celebrate close friend Jasmine Tookes’ upcoming marriage with Snapchat’s Juan David Borrero.

The stylish friend group attended the future bride’s bachelorette party this week in Hvar, an idyllic island in Croatia. 

Tookes and Borrero got engaged in September 2020 and are set to get married in Borrero’s home country of Ecuador, but due to COVID-19 the exact wedding date is yet to be announced.  

Tookes is set to tie the knot in a wedding gown by Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Jasmine Tookes (@jastookes)

The model originally teased the news following Murad’s Fall 2021 couture show in Paris, where she was sat front row. “Ten years ago, I used to walk his couture shows and now I wear his dresses on almost every red carpet. Something even more special is coming very soon,” she wrote on Instagram.

More recently, the model revealed via Instagram that she got to “see and try on my finished wedding dress. It is beyond everything I ever imagined.” 

The Raas Balbek-born couturier simply commented with three red heart emojis.


Heidi Klum, Chrissy Teigen dazzle in Mideast gowns on Italian red carpet

Supermodel Heidi Klum opted for an ensemble by Elie Saab for a gala in Capri. (Getty Images)
Supermodel Heidi Klum opted for an ensemble by Elie Saab for a gala in Capri. (Getty Images)
Updated 01 August 2021

Heidi Klum, Chrissy Teigen dazzle in Mideast gowns on Italian red carpet

Supermodel Heidi Klum opted for an ensemble by Elie Saab for a gala in Capri. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: US social media star Chrissy Teigen and US-German supermodel Heidi Klum showed off gowns by Lebanon’s leading designers at the Luisaviaroma for UNICEF Gala in Italy on Saturday.

Held in Capri, celebrities from around the world dazzled on the red carpet at the glitzy event, with Teigen opting for a gown by Zuhair Murad and Klum showing off an ensemble by Elie Saab.

Teigen’s feather-fringed gown hailed from Murad’s Spring/ Summer 2021 Couture collection and featured a plunging neckline along with lashings of shimmering sequins on a blush colored background.

The collection was inspired by Lebanon’s iconic cedar tree, which is visible on the country’s flag.

“The inspiring collection celebrates the freshness of woods, featuring iridescent shades, light fabrics, and sensual textures, from tulle and silk muslin to gazar, lurex, and crêpe georgette. Outfits paint the reflection of a misty forest at the dawn of a summer day: Powdery skies, pink clouds, sandy shades of beige and gray, sheer aquatic green or deeper leaf greens, and of course, silver, lots of silver specks outlining the trunk, sap and dew of birch trees,” a statement on the luxury label’s website reads.

Teigen is a loyal fan of the Beirut-based fashion house and often looks to the designer to dress her for important events. 

Who can forget the 87th Academy Awards in 2015, when the model opted for a heavily-beaded gown that boasted a sleeved bodice and a skirt with a thigh-high split? 

Just weeks before that, Teigen attended the Golden Globe Awards ceremony wearing a blush pink dress by Zuhair Murad.

Meanwhile, supermodel Klum was equally stunning in a heavily beaded, one-shoulder Elie Saab number. The floor-grazing gown boasted a thigh-high slit, as well as a decadent bow on one shoulder and a slinky chain belt at the waist. Geometric beading across the length of the dress added sparkle, while Klum’s pared back hair and makeup let the show-stopping gown shine on the red carpet.

The gala took place on Saturday and marked high-end retailer Luisaviaroma’s third year of partnership with UNICEF, with proceeds from the fundraiser set to go to “all children in need,” according to a released statement.


British presenter Maya Jama steps out in Lebanese look in London

British TV and radio star Maya Jama has co-presented several BBC shows. (Getty Images)
British TV and radio star Maya Jama has co-presented several BBC shows. (Getty Images)
Updated 31 July 2021

British presenter Maya Jama steps out in Lebanese look in London

British TV and radio star Maya Jama has co-presented several BBC shows. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: British TV and radio presenter Maya Jama showed off a creative look by Lebanese fashion house Azzi & Osta at an event in London late last week.

Jama, 26, opted for a sage green jumpsuit by the Lebanese design duo when she attended a launch event hosted by sports streaming service DAZN Boxing in London.

Featuring a ribbed bodice with semi-sheer, cuffed sleeves and a sharply tailored lower half, the creative design hails from Azzi & Osta’s Ready-to-Wear Collection 6, which “reimagines nineties grunge and glamour for the modern woman,” according to the label’s website.

The presenter showed off a jumpsuit by Lebanese fashion house Azzi & Osta. (Getty Images)

“Put my glad rags on for (the) @daznboxing event last night and I cannot wait to start this weekend,” Jama captioned a photo of the outfit on Instagram, where she boasts 2.3 million followers.

Jama’s stylist, Kyle De’Volle, paired the outfit with jewelry by designers Diane Kordas and Lara Heems.

It is not the first time the presenter, who is of Swedish-Somali origin, has stepped out in a design from the Middle East.

In February, she stunned at the Vogue x Tiffany Fashion & Film after party for the 73rd edition of the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) in another look by Azzi & Osta.

The canary-colored, bejeweled gown boasted long, billowing sleeves and a smattering of hand-embroidered purple, blue and white sequins on the bodice.

The designers, Assaad Osta and George Azzi, most recently decided to pay homage to the art of perfumery for their joint label’s Fall 2022 couture collection.

Released in June, the 23-piece offering boasts custom-made floral fabric, printed in 3D with verbena and patchouli and dresses cut in the shape of a vase, as well as gowns embroidered with precious ingredients including orange blossom, peach bud, patchouli, magnolia, fig, neroli and myrtle.

In an effort to incorporate eco-conscious practices into their designs, the couturiers opted for faux fur and feathers in the collection. Adding to this conscious practice, the couturiers also utilized raffia, a natural and renewable woven fiber, in the looks.

The label has been worn by the likes of Beyonce, Cardi B, Kendall Jenner and Queen Rania of Jordan.