Muslin, the premier fabric of Bengal of the pre-Moghul and Moghul era, is regarded as the epitome of elegance. In time, the production of the exquisite fabric diminished and became a lost treasure. The efficiency of new machines overpowered the craftsmanship of local weavers. Recently, a team of researchers successfully reproduced the fabric, and are now working hard to make it accessible to local designers. Nowshin Noor Aysharzo, a student of Dhaka University and a young designer, is hopeful after this development. Her boutique, Drape-o-Canvas, offers hand-painted muslin sharees.
Nowshin was fascinated by art from a young age. As a child, she heard stories about the Dhakai muslin from her grandmother. "I used to hand-paint sharees for myself and wear them to different occasions. Last year, I painted some pink blossoms over a turquoise muslin for Falgun, and came across many people who wanted to buy these sharees," she shared. "I decided to follow my passion. I started this venture with six sharees." The name, Drape-o-Canvas, signifies the fact that a customer would be wearing a canvas painted with the thoughts and stories of the young artists working in this boutique.
One of their bestsellers is a sharee featuring a unicorn in the aachol. "I love fairytales and while reading these stories, we always visualise the characters wearing heavy gowns. With this sharee, I wanted to introduce unicorns in our traditional attire," she said. Nowshin wants to present traditional fabrica like jamdani and muslin with a fusion.
Drape-o-Canvas currently sells muslin sharees and dupattas, by blending traditional motifs with modern themes. Nowshin is eagerly waiting to work with the Dhakai muslin. She will extend the range of her boutique's current collection by adding more locally-weaved fabrics. "We will also introduce an exclusive bridal collection for people who want to wear muslin on their big day," she said.
The author likes to read her way through life, and you will always find her scribbling and planning. To send recommendations and help, follow @monameereads on Instagram.