There was plenty of conjecture surrounding Bakhtawar Bhutto’s engagement – not least what she would be wearing on her big day.
There were no clues, no hush-hush images released from a designer’s atelier and no 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.
Nida’s shawls are her best-sellers, coveted by a discerning clientele that recognizes their worth. 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.”
How long did it take for the shawl to get made?
“It did take some time,” Nida admits, “because it is entirely hand embroidered. Bakhtwar wore it over a tea pink peshwaz with tone on tone embroidery. It was very understated but classic.”
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.”
Nida must have been aware of the curiosity regarding what Bakhtawar was going to wear. In fact, social media was rife with the rumor that the engagement outfit was going to be created by an age-old atelier that had created Bakhtawar’s late mother Benazir Bhutto’s Nikah outfit.
Why didn’t Nida upload a sneak peek or float out a tweet revealing that she would be creating the outfit?
“For one, it was Bakhtawar’s outfit, ordered by her, and it was up to her to reveal the images,” says Nida. “For me, the priority was that the person that I had created it for should get to enjoy it and like it. I wanted to create a customized piece that she would treasure forever.”
Zooming in on images of Bakhtawar’s shawl and realizing the personalized details within it, it certainly is the sort of design that a girl would treasure, always.