Chondon – an ethnic treasure trove within the city
Chondona Dewan, a famous name in the Dhaka fashion scenery is more than just a designer. Besides being the proprietor of Chondon's, an upscale traditional store located at a posh area of the capital; she is an active social worker and a proud promoter of women's empowerment.
We visited Chondona Dewan's store last week, to indulge in a rendezvous with the gracious designer, trying to learn more about the recent fashion trends and what Chondon's had in store for us in Eid. The famous designer, seemed to be in a conversational mood, and this bode well.
We began by discussing the more common style trends that we would be seeing this Eid. "Styles are always changing and this year it is no different because we can see a lot of introduction to kurtis and single piece kameez. The fashion conscious populace is opting for layers in their attire; the body fitting look is out of fashion for the season," she began. "Variations to the traditional cuts of shalwars are what prominently catch the eye. We can see that young ladies are preferring to wear tulip pants, harem pants and pairing it with single, short to mid length kurtis. Capes and long jackets are boldly in and people are seen to beautifully pair them with traditional wear such as saris and the kameez," she continued
The conversation then shifted towards the preferred fabric in terms of the mighty monsoon and the sweltering summer.
Chondona Dewan explained that the particular time in Bangladesh is intense on heat and humidity and suggested to wear soothing pale colours such as blue, off-white, sea green, grey etc which look calming to the eyes and are also very comfortable to wear. "At Chondon's we have developed a wonderful range of saris and kameez, all in restful colours and comfortable base materials to give the best experience to our consumers," she added helpfully.
The mention of Chondon, reminded us of its famed "Slim Section". But what piqued our curiousity was what this particular section entailed, apart from the obvious.
"Many women in our country do not feel comfortable with their body size. They look at a dress and think immediately that it won't match their outlook. But let me tell you this bit; it is the job of the designer to make the fit for you. There is nothing called a wrong dress! With this idea in-mind, the slim section was created where we developed a special cut, style for every dress which helps the consumers look fitter and gain back their lost confidence," she said.
So what did the Eid collection look like for Chondon's?
"Chondon's is heavily renowned for its patchwork and as is usual we have a lot of materials in this form of work like jackets, kurtis, saris, blouses etc. We have everything else in the usual, colourful cotton saris, embroidered muslin saris, traditional Jamdani, attractive shalwar-kameez suits, fatuas, layered tops, special pants like flare pants, harem pantsetc,"
But fear not, because Chondon's isn't about the women only these Eid. Plenty of attention has been paid to the men as well.
"I make men's panjabi as well, but I don't have a huge stock due to the limited space in my store. What I do is, when my clients come I show them Chondon's catalogue and they can choose a design from there. I take their sizes and personally customise it as they want. Designs can also be provided by the customers themselves," she explained, perhaps hinting that dressing men required a bit more of a personal touch.
Then we drifted towards the racks of embellishments surrounding us. Chondon's is particularly popular for the style of jewelery they create and we wondered if they were being made here, locally.
"Yes, everything is locally made. These are all my designs which are inspired by Mughal, Persian and Afghan ethnicity. I always dreamt of making Chondon's, a complete lifestyle store where customers could find everything from jewelry to bags to their clothes. It is a huge hassle to run from store to store trying to match bags, sandals, jewelry with outfits, so I thought of having it all, under one roof.
Chondona Apa, as we fondly call her, then spoke about media's role in promoting the local heritage of the country, explaining how their preference for the "abroad look" could hurt the local market. As the pace began to build around with the customers rushing about and growing in numbers, it was time for us to leave. But Chondona Apa had one last bit to mention. "I would like all my readers to come visit Chondon's and have tea with me, if not anything else. I always love company," she said and as she gazed upon our flustered look at steadily increasing hustle and bustle around us, a smile broke across her face; "It's a lot of work but Eid may be one of our favourite times of the year," she said and with that our rendevouz came to a close.
Address: Chondon's. Rd 103, Gulshan 1