Designer Wardha Saleem on incorporating elements of Sindh into Bakhtawar's ivory and gold bridal dress

Designer Wardha Saleem on incorporating elements of Sindh into Bakhtawar's ivory and gold bridal dress

"Geometric motifs particular to ajrak were mixed in with Mughal-esque jaalis and florals and fauna from Thar," reveals designer.
Updated 03 Feb, 2021

The wedding of Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari, daughter of the late Benazir Bhutto and former president Asif Ali Zardari, is well over but we're still basking in the sartorial afterglow of the dresses the bride wore.

The details of what — and who — she would wear were guarded right up until Bakhtawar or her husband Mahmood Choudhry revealed them themselves on their social media.

There was Karachi-based Nida Azwer for the engagement last year, Lahore-based Zara Shahjahan for the mehndi function and for the much-anticipated nikah dress, the bride chose another designer from Karachi, Wardha Saleem.

A photo posted by Instagram (@instagram) on

It was an exciting indication that some of fashion’s younger set of designers are now gaining clout. It had been largely assumed that Bakhtawar would opt for one of Pakistan’s longstanding veteran ateliers to create the design for her big day. The fact that she put her faith in a younger — albeit experienced — designer was refreshing.

Wardha Saleem says that it was “an experience that she will always cherish”.

“The response has been overwhelming. Coming from a Sindhi background myself, it gave me great pride to be designing the outfit for the 'daughter of Sindh'," the designer told Images in an exclusive conversation.

According to Saleem, this was the first time that she designed for Bakhtawar and her family. “They approached us. Bakhtawar has been following our work and liked our design sensibility. We had our first video call where she revealed her interest in wearing us for the main baraat event.”

Evidently, the couple had already decided on an ivory and gold look as an ode to her mother’s iconic wedding outfit. “She trusted us and gave us a complete free hand to give the design our own interpretation and create a signature look.”

Saleem goes on to describe the outfit in great detail: “It was a timeless ivory and gold hand-embroidered heirloom bridal; a classic long peshwaz silhouette paired with a traditional sharara, a main bridal dupatta and another ghoonghat dupatta for the nikah ceremony."

The designer incorporated her signature chand-baala and lotus leather applique motifs in the outfit.
The designer incorporated her signature chand-baala and lotus leather applique motifs in the outfit.

"We opted for a hand-woven masuri crinkle chiffon fabric for the shirt and dupatta and customised hand-woven organza for the sharara. In an effort to amalgamate subcontinental heritage with the legacy of Sindh, geometric motifs particular to ajrak were mixed in with Mughal-esque jaalis and florals and fauna from Thar," she elaborated.

"There were peacocks and house sparrows sitting in jharokas against Khairpur’s banana trees and deer dancing along the main border. We also incorporated our signature chand-baala and lotus leather applique motifs in the outfit.

“Blue accents were added in the outfit and the custom-made clutch was created in sapphire blue once Bakhtawar confirmed that she would be wearing Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s wedding sapphire necklace.”

Custom-made royal blue clutch to match Benazir's sapphire necklace.
Custom-made royal blue clutch to match Benazir's sapphire necklace.

The embellishments varied; from age-old aari, zardozi, kamdani and French knots to Swarovski crystals, pearls, Naqshi and textured appliqués.

Did the designer have to observe certain confidentiality requirements until the wedding day when the pictures were finally revealed? “She wanted to reveal the designer label herself and we respected her wishes,” shares Saleem.

“We saw Bakhtawar as a young and sophisticated bride who valued her roots and was deeply committed to her family’s traditions and legacy. At the same time, she wanted to make her own mark. Keeping this in mind, my design for her was classic and traditional and yet, young,” the designer told Images.

“Bakhtawar was the dream bride that any designer would love to create for.”


Aatif Feb 03, 2021 02:26pm
She should now auction off the dress and give proceedings to Eidhi foundation
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Chrís Dăn Feb 03, 2021 02:56pm
How humane it could be if all the money wasted on this lavish dress could/would be given for some decent marriages of some poor girls in interior Sindh.
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Lahori Feb 03, 2021 03:45pm
Is that cut from a heavy curtain?
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Furrukh Rao Feb 03, 2021 04:06pm
I think you should mention the names specially the guests arrived from friendly nations to this wedding.
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Umair Karim Feb 03, 2021 04:21pm
@Chrís Dăn "or the dress could now be made available at low rental for to be brides".
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Sab Se Pehle Pakistan Feb 03, 2021 04:47pm
The best part was all the elements in the dress were incorporated using hard earned tax payers money of commoners like us. Congratulations Bakhtawar Zardari Chaudhry sahiba.
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Kanwar Adnan Umar Feb 03, 2021 04:52pm
An economy shattered by thieves . People dying of hunger disease and nutrition deficiency. Especially in Sindh. And all you want to show is a bridal dress. Get a grip guys you all are living in a artificial world. I'm glad she got married but try to get the streets clean . Provide water , food and sanitation. With the cost of this dress one can open two interior sindh. You guys are a joke.
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Dr.Sadaf Feb 03, 2021 05:36pm
@Lahori , well said
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FRANK Feb 03, 2021 06:01pm
You girls need to find yourselves a proper job, or a husband. 'Basking in the sartorial afterglow', indeed.
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Gaffer Feb 03, 2021 06:46pm
@Chrís Dăn no body think of this as poor masses voted for them, now they have to suffer as the say burro is alive how illetrate are
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Gaffer Feb 03, 2021 06:47pm
What a shame no drinking water IN THAR and how these money wasted
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Gaffer Feb 03, 2021 06:48pm
I hate to see these
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AMU Feb 03, 2021 06:48pm
A vulgar display of ill gotten wealth was a slap on the face of the poor haris of Sindh who still believe that Bhuttos and Zardaris will change their lot.
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Captain Feb 03, 2021 07:00pm
Ill gotten money spent on illogical way, should have spent on poor Sindh instead !
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Rami Feb 03, 2021 07:18pm
How about using a designer work out plan , walk around Sindh, does wonder for designer fit!
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Shakeel Ahmad Feb 03, 2021 07:30pm
Shame on you for even signing up to do this work for the world most corrupt family. I googled "How is Mr. 10 percent" and guess what, her dad came up in every single news, pages and discussion groups. It boils our blood when people in their area are picking food from trash and they put this lavish wedding. Shame on Pakistani's who attended and who collaborated and helped with this event. You deserve the country you have now. Don't blame IK for your own ill support of cronies.
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Salman Feb 04, 2021 04:01am
Dress made from stolen public money
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Maryam Siddique Feb 04, 2021 05:20am
Pakistanis are so judgmental about rich people. If rich people start living simple lives then nobody will have jobs. If a girl is poor then she should just have a simple wedding instead of expecting Bakhtawar Zardari to not have a lavish wedding just because a poor person can have a better wedding. People should spend within their means. Why cant poor people just be happy to see others lavish weddings instead of envying them.
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Maryam Siddique Feb 04, 2021 05:21am
@Aatif Do ladies in your family auction off their gold and dresses to donate to Edhi? Do you auction your property and live in a jhonpri to help Edhi? Practice what you preach first.
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junaid ullah Feb 04, 2021 01:22pm
@Maryam siddique, with excuse, not rich people , rather pakistanis are judgmental about rich politician, had once been legally charged to control and handle the system, leading it to an economically worst country. you seem over pessimist. Appreciate !
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Chrís Dăn Feb 04, 2021 02:16pm
@Maryam Siddique rich people of pakistan are rich with our money.
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