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|Volume 11 |Issue 33| August 17, 2012 ||
Sushmita S Preetha
Amidst the hot blaze of new designers trying to arrest the attention and credit cards of greedy masses during the Holy month of Shongjom¸ one boutique stands out as the place to be for this Eid, especially for those looking to make a bold and powerful statement. Illegally situated in a quiet nook in D-town, the quaint shop is nothing if not the definitive assertion in style, and adds a novel dimension to the age-old saying, “You are what you wear”. With the tagline, “You are who you vote,” the trendy store, Chot-Paat Fashionz is aimed towards an ever-expanding base of consumers who want to wear their political affiliations on their sleeves.
“Let's face it. We are a country of sycophants. We love to go out of our way to kiss people's behinds,” says Rumi Reza, with the air of someone who Knows. An ex-cadre, with an artistic mind, Reza realised that he could use his own expertise as a chela to propel his creative vision and turn it into a profitable business venture. “And so I started Chot-Paat, designing a wardrobe that takes its muse from the movers and shakers of the day,” he explains.
The first floor of the boutique sports the Dhonbari Collections, with chiffon saris in all possible hues. “All the materials, including the needles and threads, for our Dhonbari collection is imported from foreign lands – except India, of course – to ensure exclusiveness and aristocracy,” assures Hashem, the salesman of Chot-Paat. However, Hashem adds hastily, the chiffon saris are deliberately made to look less expensive than the ones worn by Queen Dolly Bee so as to not mass produce her style and make her appear un-exclusive or cheap.
“She is such a style icon, and I can't believe I am about to finally buy a pink chiffon,” gushes a 22-year-old Rumana Rafique, who hopes to attract an appropriate suitor, a middle-aged Bongoland Nonstop-Nonsense Party (BNP) cadre or politician with enough black money to transform her dreams into multi-storied realities. “I am planning to get my eyebrows removed and redrawing them with a thin eye-pencil to look more alluring,” says the young shopper. “This style guide, which I also picked up from the store, gives detailed instructions on how to recreate the perfect look. It says right here, for instance, that I should work towards an expression-less face,” she explains with a laugh, before realising that a laugh is a serious faux pas in Dolly's books and replaces it with a stern robotic look.
For the men, there is a unique, never-seen-before collection of tailored suits made from the finest chiffon. “We really wanted to push the boundaries with this particular line of menswear,” says designer Rumi Reza, “We have regular suits, of course, made out of expensive imported materials for our male clients, to wear in this scorching heat, but we wanted to experiment a little more and give the men something more fashion-forward.” The men are flocking in herds to try out these limited-edition suits in soothing pastels. Reza believes that if this trend continues, the chiffon suits will be the next break-out-the-plastic, gotta-have-'em item after the BNP leaders' trademark Rayban sunglasses.
Next to the Dhonbari Collections is the Jama-te-Islami (Islamic in Clothes) Wear, featuring long white panjabis and an extravagant assortment of toopis – from the elegantly simple but ever stylish white cop such as the likes sported by Papa Rajakar to the intricately designed hats worn by Motichor Bizami. Also available are different types of Pakistani henna to dye one's beard in seductive auburn hues, as well as a range of pam da hachet in different sizes to slaughter the 'unbelievers' and khur (barber's blade) to slit their veins. There is no women's wear in this collection.
On the second floor of the shop is the Collection of the Nation, the largest collection of the boutique by far. “Originally we hadn't planned on producing such a hefty collection, but we were forced, I mean, encouraged, to appoint a new member to our board of directors, who ordered us, I mean, kindly urged us, to increase our production in the last minute,” says Reza, anxiously looking over his shoulders. “Can you please strike that from the record?” he whispers, dabbing sweat off his temples.
Bongo Coats adorn the many shelves of the second floor, in all possible sizes and materials. There are also a wide range of saris – jamdani-type local saris along with expensive Indian ones that can be passed off as “deshi”. All purchases come with complementary brand new Shahara locks to keep you safe and sound in these troubled times. Needless to say, all proceeds from the Collection will go towards constructing the Padma Bridge.
For those with an avant-garde taste, the designers suggest the Meramot Collections (A Collection in Two Parts), consisting of all things incomplete. “None of the pieces in the collection match. They all seem defective (look at this large tear, here) and season inappropriate. For this monsoon, they essentially have a winter collection,” describes Shihan Rabbani enthusiastically. “I love it. Meramot Collections have captured the true essence of the ineffectiveness and idiocy of the Decaying Corrupt Corporation (DCC).”
Meanwhile, the prized possession of Chot-Paat Fashionz is the Raid and Butcher Battalion (RABB) Collection; the all black attire that exudes power and tyranny is nothing if not sexy. The outfit comes complete with the usual bandana, boots, shirt and trousers; however, what really sets it apart is a small red button that you can use to make someone you dislike disappear in a poof of smoke. It's by far the most expensive item in the store, but, as the eager shoppers who bought the outfit point out, gross infringement of human rights is a small price to pay for maintaining mental peace and order.
“We also had the Lender's Collection, replete with Laureate-inspired shirts and kotis (waist coats). But we have been instructed, I mean, we have decided that it is for the best, to not showcase the collection just yet,” says Reza, displaying signs of nervousness again. He quickly directs our attention to another section – the Forever21 collection, inspired by the eternal poet, Kobi Goru Shoirachari. Apart from tailored suits, the collection boasts silk shirts, stylish scarves and ever-more-importantly the 'red rumal pocket'. “For every purchase, madam, you will receive a free copy of his poems as well as a red rose, too,” informs Hashem, with a sly smile. “No red roses for you, sir, though.”
Chot-Paat also features Laal(tu) fashion – a sad collection of scattered clothes here and there. When asked what happened to the clothes in this section, Reza explains, “When we first started the design process, this was our joy and pride. But then we started putting bits and pieces of this collection to other collections, and in no time, we realised we had essentially destroyed any and all possibility of future revolution – in the field of fashion.”
Reza adds that they have put some of the best pieces of this collection to Shusheel Society, where you can see jhola bags, cotton kurtas and shawls and expensive and exclusive cotton and natural dye sharees that look deceptively cheap, to make you ready for perfect photo-op moments in manob-bondhons and rallies.
Since its opening earlier this month, Chot-Paat Fashionz has quickly become a hot-spot for Dhaka's fashion-conscious musclemen, bootlickers and lackeys. “We are very happy with the reception we have received from Dhakaites, but we can't seem to control the frequent random fights that break out between different customers. Just the other day, we wanted to step in and stop a fight, and a customer used his newly-purchased RABB red button to make a salesman disappear,” informs a visibly distressed Reza. But despite the internal conflict, Reza hopes to open branches in different cities of Bongoland, bringing his sizzling brand of fashion to the masses.