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

Woven together, the rise and fall of southern Pakistan’s Banarsi sari
1 / 3
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
2 / 3
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)
3 / 3
Short Url
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.”


Bella Hadid proves vaccination status for ‘concerned’ fans

Bella Hadid proves vaccination status for ‘concerned’ fans
Updated 16 September 2021

Bella Hadid proves vaccination status for ‘concerned’ fans

Bella Hadid proves vaccination status for ‘concerned’ fans

DUBAI: US-Palestinian model Bella Hadid this week confirmed to her fans that she had been vaccinated against COVID-19, following speculation on social media that she missed the 2021 Met Gala because of the event’s safety rules. 

The catwalk star shared a picture from her camera roll, which dated Aug. 6, on her Instagram story on Wednesday of a nurse giving the model an injection in her arm. “For anyone concerned,” wrote the 24-year-old supermodel.

Instagram/@bellahadid 

Hadid’s older sister, Gigi attended the highly anticipated event in New York, and for the occasion she opted for a monochrome look by Italian label Prada.

The regulations state that all Met visitors must provide proof that they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Guests were also required to wear masks inside the venue if they were not eating or drinking.


Co-owner of Lebanese label Yeprem discusses celebrity fans from Jennifer Lopez to Madonna  

Co-owner of Lebanese label Yeprem discusses celebrity fans from Jennifer Lopez to Madonna  
Updated 14 September 2021

Co-owner of Lebanese label Yeprem discusses celebrity fans from Jennifer Lopez to Madonna  

Co-owner of Lebanese label Yeprem discusses celebrity fans from Jennifer Lopez to Madonna  

BEIRUT: From Jennifer Lopez to Madonna, Lebanese jewelry brand Yeprem has been adding a dose of sparkle to Hollywood celebrities’ red carpet looks for more than five decades.  

The brand, famous for using marquis cut diamonds, creates modern, yet timeless designs. 

Virna Yeprem, the daughter of the founder, said that when she and her brothers joined the business, which was founded in 1964, they expanded the brand internationally “by being innovative.

“We revolutionized the vision of jewelry, the concept of jewelry, of how to wear the items,” she said in an interview with Arab News. 

One of their standout Hollywood experiences was when Lopez, the US singer, actress and dancer, wore the brand’s jewelry during a video shoot for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. “We were surprised,” said Virna.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by YEPREM (@yeprem)

Yeprem designs its piece with flexibility and dexterity in mind, so that the jewelry is comfortable and pliable, which is why Hollywood celebrities enjoy championing the brand’s pieces on stage, according to the owner. 

“Celebrities were attracted (to Yeprem) because they thought that the pieces would complete their look on red carpets,” she said. “In their concerts and events… we try to fit every size to (ensure) very comfortable movement, because it is not easy to sing or to move when the piece is nice but not comfortable.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by YEPREM (@yeprem)

Another memorable experience for the siblings was when Madonna’s team wanted to create luxurious jewelry for a video clip of her album, “Rebel Heart,” that was going to be released at the 2015 Grammys. 

“They contacted us and they wanted us to create a piece inspired by the album, ‘Rebel Heart.’ We had two weeks between designing, her approval and the production for the piece to be ready for (the) Grammys on time,” said Virna. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by YEPREM (@yeprem)

“Luckily, we made it. She loved the piece. She was very happy. She sent us a thank you letter,” added Virna. 

The label’s star-studded client list includes Rihanna, Beyonce, Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Oprah Winfrey and many more. 


Gigi Hadid picks Prada for 2021 Met Gala — and all the other celebrity looks

Gigi Hadid picks Prada for 2021 Met Gala — and all the other celebrity looks
Updated 14 September 2021

Gigi Hadid picks Prada for 2021 Met Gala — and all the other celebrity looks

Gigi Hadid picks Prada for 2021 Met Gala — and all the other celebrity looks

DUBAI: US-Palestinian model Gigi Hadid made an appearance at Monday’s highly anticipated Met Gala in New York and for the occasion she opted for a monochrome look by Italian label Prada. 

Over-the-elbow black leather gloves completed Hadid’s glamorous look. (AFP)

The off-the-shoulder look was sleek and form-fitting, and Hadid rounded it off with a pair of black tights. In true vampy style, she relaced her usually blonde locks with flowing auburn hair, which was secured with a dazzling black brooch atop her head. Over-the-elbow black leather gloves completed the glamorous look. 

Yara Shahidi showed up in a glittering, custom-made look by Christian Dior. (AFP)

Meanwhile, actress Yara Shahidi — whose father is US-Iranian — showed up in a glittering, custom-made look by Christian Dior, embroidered with beading and fashioned with a thin belt and a long, gauzy trail. 

Billie Eilish co-chaired the charity ball often heralded as the celebrity world's “party of the year.” (AFP)

A cohort of Gen-Z’s glitterati hosted the A-lister bash famed around the world for its over-the-top panache, AFP reported. 

The crowd of some 400 actors, athletes, poets and performers — all of whom were either vaccinated or had tested negative for Covid-19 — was largely maskless, defying the global coronavirus pandemic that forced the cancellation of last year's event.

Rihanna wore a black, over-sized ruffled coat dress, while A$AP Rocky wrapped himself up in a multi-coloured blanket by designer Eli Russell Linnetz. (AFP)

US lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez added to the revolutionary spirit with a white off-shoulder dress, on the back of which was written in scarlet capital letters: “Tax the rich” — an inflammatory statement at an event where tickets cost $35,000 apiece and tables were up to $300,000.

Actor Timothee Chalamet, poet Amanda Gorman, singer Billie Eilish and tennis player Naomi Osaka co-chaired the charity ball often heralded as the celebrity world's “party of the year.”

Justin and Hailey Bieber matched in black for their first Met Gala together. (AFP)

Normally held in early May, the Manhattan soiree on steroids was postponed to Monday with the hope that Covid-19 restrictions would be lifted. The 2020 edition was canceled due to the pandemic.

Kim Kardashia’s wore a Balenciaga haute couture gown with a matching mask and train. (AFP)

The honorary co-chairs were Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, who has turned the gala into a global event, designer Tom Ford and Adam Mosseri, director of Instagram, which is sponsoring the extravaganza.

 Regina King shimmered in a sparkling navy and gold dress with a matching coat. (AFP)

The bash heralded the opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual sartorial exhibit, which this year will happen in two parts.

Ava Duvernay donned a black dress with sparkling sleeves. (AFP)

The first show, titled “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” is opening to the public September 18 to celebrate The Costume Institute's 75th anniversary.

The second exhibit — “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” — will kick off May 5, 2022. Both will run until September 5 of that year.


Sofia Boutella hits MTV red carpet in Alexander McQueen look

Sofia Boutella hits MTV red carpet in Alexander McQueen look
Updated 13 September 2021

Sofia Boutella hits MTV red carpet in Alexander McQueen look

Sofia Boutella hits MTV red carpet in Alexander McQueen look

DUBAI: French-Algerian actress and dancer Sofia Boutella hit the red carpet at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards alongside Foo Fighters frontman Dave Ghrohl, almost a year after starring in a music video for the rock band. 

Boutella, who recently joined the star-studded cast of upcoming horror pic “Cuckoo,” showed off a punk-style dress by Alexander McQueen at the MTV VMAs. 

The all-black look hailed from the fashion label’s Fall/Winter 2021 Ready-to-Wear collection and featured a deep V-shaped neckline, silver zipper details and a thick leather belt at the waist.

The ensemble was put together by celebrity stylist Jen Woodward, who completed the look with chunky high-heeled boots and equally weighty silver jewelry. 

Dave Grohl (C), Sofia Boutella (R), and guest attend the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center. (AFP)

Boutella most recently worked with Ghrohl on the Foo fighters’ music video for their single “Shame, Shame,” which was released in November 2020. 

The “Atomic Blonde” star was tapped by the band to depict an interpretation of a recurring dream that’s haunted the lead singer since his childhood days.

Directed by Argentinian photographer and director Paola Kudacki, the black-and-white video sees Foo Fighters frontman Grohl dragging a broken guitar while having multiple interpretive dance encounters with Boutella, who showcases her impressive dance skills.

“#ShameShame is a very meaningful song and it’s a very meaningful visual – different than anything we’ve ever done before,” wrote the Foo Fighters on their Instagram account at the time.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Boutella (@sofisia7)

Boutella has decades of dance experience under her belt and has been honing her skills since she was a child.

Born in Bab El-Oued, a bustling neighborhood of Algiers, Boutella started studying ballet aged five. The family fled the Algerian Civil War in 1992 when she was 10 years old and moved to Paris. There, she gravitated towards rhythmic gymnastics, joining the French national team at the age of 18.

She blended her classical ballet training with the physicality of gymnastics and even spent time break-dancing with a dance group called the Vagabond Crew.

Her breakout moment came in 2007, when renowned choreographer Jamie King was searching for a female dancer for a Nike commercial. He came across Boutella’s video submission and snapped her up for the campaign. 

Ultimately, she decided to put aside her dancing career to pursue acting. Today, the dancer-turned-actress has a number of Hollywood blockbusters under her belt, including “Fahrenheit 451,” “Atomic Blonde” and “The Mummy,” where she starred alongside Tom Cruise.


Model Imaan Hammam ends New York Fashion Week on a high

Imaan Hammam was spotted on the streets of New York after the Michael Kors show. (Getty Images)
Imaan Hammam was spotted on the streets of New York after the Michael Kors show. (Getty Images)
Updated 12 September 2021

Model Imaan Hammam ends New York Fashion Week on a high

Imaan Hammam was spotted on the streets of New York after the Michael Kors show. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: Dutch-Moroccan-Egyptian model Imaan Hammam pulled off a jam-packed schedule at New York Fashion Week, which wraps up on Sunday.

The model walked in a number of shows, including hitting the runway for designer Peter Dundas, Moschino and Michael Kors.

Late last week, the 24-year-old catwalker showed off multiple looks during a showcase of Dundas and online fashion retailer Revolve’s new collaboration. The show featured 46 ready-to-wear looks, with Hammam showing off a floor-grazing gold lame dress with cut out details and braided rope accents, as well as a jet-black ensemble with a flowing poncho and lace tights.

(Getty Images)

Oslo-born Dundas, who was previously at Italian fashion houses Roberto Cavalli and Emilio Pucci, offered up a line of slinky dresses, chunky knits, high-waisted shorts and jackets with lots of black and metallic colors. There were also dabs of hot pink, red and orange on trouser suits and frocks, Reuters reported.

New York Fashion Week saw a return to in-person catwalk shows after 18 months due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the last two seasons, designers turned to digital video releases to present their collections.

Next up, Hammam got more colorful at designer Jeremy Scott’s Moschino show and slipped into his collection of bright baby blues, pastel pinks, greens, purples and brilliant yellows — fitting for a line inspired by children’s toys and cartoon animals.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Imaan Hammam (@imaanhammam)

The model strutted down the runway in a body-hugging gown with a large rabbit cartoon figure emblazoned across the torso — its ears cascading off the bodice.

The dozens of outfits to come hewed to the same concept — women in baby-themed dresses and suits, adorned with safety-pin earrings or teething rings, with whimsical matching handbags and gloves. There were glasses with heart-shaped lenses and slouchy belts that looked like giant little-girl charm bracelets.

Love and romance were the dreamy threads that bound together Michael Kors’ Spring/Summer 2022 collection, presented in Central Park on Friday.

Hammam showed off a slinky, leopard print number, which was belted at the waist and accessorized with a cylindrical black bag. The look harkened back to the 1990s with his deep neckline and figure-hugging cut.

“I think everyone just wants to feel good about themselves, wants to have fun, and also wants to buy something that makes them feel great but lasts, something that stands the test of time,” Kors said in a statement about his new line, according to The Associated Press.