In the midst glamorous models, including Bollywood actress Sunny Leone, at the New York Fashion Week that began on September 8, a not-so-charismatic woman on the ramp seemed to draw a whole lot of attention of viewers.
Reshma Banoo Qureshi, a victim of acid attack in India that left her with a missing left eye and a badly-scarred skin, opened the show for designer Archana Kochhar who showcased the rural art of India. Qureshi wore an ivory gown, which was offset with digitally printed motifs, to create awareness of the initiative “Bring Beauty Back”.
“This is my first time in New York and I’m very excited,” she told The Independent, the evening before her appearance. “I think it’s important that people hear the story about the survivors of acid attacks and to know they can lead normal lives.”
Before the opening of the show, Ilaria Niccolini, producer of New York-based FTL Moda, that helped organize the show, said in a statement that it has been “a journey of discovery that led us to ‘Make Love Not Scars,” the most recognized entity supporting survivors of acid attacks in India. “We want to give voice to these amazing women, who have been silently suffering, hiding, and too often depriving themselves of the opportunity to declare how beastly, and cruelly they have been attacked,” the statement said.
Despite the attack and the defacing of the then 17-year-old, Qureshi has refused to hide behind closed doors. She began working with ‘Make Love Not Scars’, an NGO focused on providing acid attack victims with the “opportunity to regain their life.” Before coming to New York she said that she has realized that beauty is “not just about how we look in the mirror.”
Although as a Bollywood actor she is constantly under media limelight, Leone too was excited to be present at the show. “It’s unbelievable that I just walked at New York Fashion Week for designer Archana Kochhar, wearing her Banjara Collection. The energy here was superb and the response we received was phenomenal”, Leone said after the show. “I Love this gown, it looks so ethereal. Archana is my favorite Indian designer,’ Leone said, adding that although very few Indian designers have reached New York Fashion Week, Kochar has made it here.
The designer herself was overjoyed, describing her experience as surreal. “This is arguably, the largest fashion platform in the world. It is a great honor to be one of the few Indians to have showcased at New York Fashion week, for the second time. It is one of the most professionally- run events in the world. As the Nyfw organizers had told me, they don’t talk fashion – they own fashion”, Kochhar said.
“I am very grateful to Sunny (Leone), who’s a dear friend, and I think she looks stunning in whatever she wears. Also, I am very honored to have Reshma Qureshi walking the ramp and showcasing different facets of beauty to the world,” Kochhar said.
“Beauty should not be affirmed by a certain height, color or size, it is beyond that. It should be an all-inclusive concept. We need such acceptance in society and I think such endeavors of mine will increase sensitivity towards this concept in our society”, Kochhar added.
Kochhar’s fashion week collection showcases beautiful prints inspired by the carvings of Taj Mahal, with colorful embroidery representing the royal era. Promoting the concept of “all-inclusive beauty”, Kochhar is supporting the initiative “Bring Beauty Back” at the event.
Her creation, “A tale of Two Travels” imparts royal individuality of the surreal Taj and gleams in the colorful essence of Banjara. The first inspiration of the collection is by the nomadic tribe of India called Banjara, known for the craft of the vibrant mesmerizing colors and rustic mirror work in India.
The color pallet of this collection is ivory offset with colorful digitally printed motifs, which is further highlighted with multi-color thread work and mirror work. The second inspiration of the collection is by the magnificent Taj Maha
When she was told she had been invited to take her message to New York Fashion Week, Ms Qureshi said she had been thrilled. She said that just because someone’s face had been destroyed, they could could still carry within them inner beauty and soul. “That is all that should matter,” she said.