Handbag label Krizmah tactfully blends the more traditional and ethnic feel of Chitral with a contemporary outlook into its immaculate hand-stitched bag collection.
Designers Zainab Alam and Nadia Malik, graduates of the National College of Arts Lahore and entrepreneurs of the brand, have now launched Secret Garden — their second collection of handbags. The venture started off two years ago when Alam, who belongs to the royal family of Chitral, decided that it was time to put the expertise of the Chitrali women to use, the ultimate objective being to empower Chitrali women and preserve the art produced in this region.
“Secret Garden is based on that little, hidden place inside each of us where we all retreat to when dreaming,” said Alam, referring to Krizmah’s latest collection. “It is this secret place where our ‘Tree of Dreams’ blossoms and where the ‘Free Spirit’ of ‘Love’, ‘Prosperity’ and ‘Luck’ blooms. It is where our ‘Karma’ and ‘Destiny’ are altered.” These are some of the names given to their new handbags.
Alam, who is currently based in Lahore, recently went back to her home in Chitral. She did so to draw up some samples for her next collection and to expedite her corporate social responsibility activities in Chitral, primarily towards the female workers — promoting her brand “as a socially-conscious one which shortlists female artisans and aims to educate them till the time they plan on continuing their education.”
Shedding some light on the time and effort that goes into crafting a Krizmah handbag, Alam commented on their latest collection: “Kalami embroidery, which is very prominent in the northern regions of Pakistan, takes about four to eight weeks to for a single bag.” She also added that two women need to combine their efforts and work on a single bag simultaneously in order for it to be completed on time. “Approximately 1,048 stitches exist in the ‘Tree of Life’, for instance,” she remarked on the exquisite work of art.
“Although Chitrali women have learnt the techniques involved in constructing intricate embroidery over time themselves, they still need some guidance when it comes to incorporating the appropriate colour schemes — which is our job,” said Alam candidly.
Krizmah designers had initially made it a point to craft their products entirely in Pakistan (be it on leather or other fabric), but for their Secret Garden collection, they decided to experiment with some Italian accessories including handbag buckles, magnetic buttons and zips.
By stocking their fascinating collection at The House of Ensemble in Karachi and Asmani in Islamabad, Krizmah bags have made their presence online as well, in order to target the international market.
These bags are priced between Rs14,000 to Rs35,000.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2012.
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