May Issue 2010
Ambassador of Peace
On April 8, Noorjehan Bilgrami took her talents to the stage of UNESCO palace in Beirut, Lebanon, where she put on an outstanding show for a crowd of nearly 750 people. She was invited there by Pakistani Ambassador to Lebanon, Raana Rahim, in the hope of highlighting the positive face of Pakistan.
Putting on more than just another fashion show, Bilgrami attempted to project the spiritual heritage of a country which has justifiably become synonymous with terror and violence. She called her show “From the Land of the Sufis,” to offer a glimpse into its rich cultural tradition, rather than restrict the show to a simple catwalk of Pakistani couture. The Sufi theme was ubiquitous throughout the show and the use of audio and projected visuals helped to enhance the total experience. Haider Rehman, a flute player associated with the Pakistani band Laal, and the renowned tabla nawaz, Shabbir Hussain Tari, teamed up to play live onstage while the Lebanese models walked the ramp.
The haunting notes of the flute went well with the mood that Bilgrami had created. She set the stage with dropped panels of muslin cloth on to which she projected images of Sufi shrines and sites, which she had requested photographer Amean Jan to compile for her. As the models meandered through the muslin panels on stage, it seemed as though they were actually walking through the different monuments, thanks to the crisp quality of the projection.
In each of the six segments of her show, Bilgrami featured different themes which she called Light, Desert Sun, Oasis, Heaven, Fire and Void. Each segment followed its own colour scheme, which included shades of white, gold, turquoise, fuchsia, magenta, red and black.
The outfits were decidedly eastern in nature and complemented the theme of the show. Using different fabrics but mainly diaphanous chiffons, silks, and organzas, she focused on giving a sense of volume and flow to her clothes. “There’s a certain movement that comes to mind when one thinks of Sufism; the idea of flowy fabric rather than something which is very tapered or body-hugging,” says Bilgrami.
The show was greeted with resounding applause by the Beirutis who attended that day, and Bilgrami has been requested to return and grace their stage with more such shows.