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Exclusive: International Designer Bibi Russel on success & unique Jaipur women

  • JWB Post
  •  March 11, 2015


Bibi Russell, the Bangladeshi fashion designer and the former international model, was the Chief Guest of the Global Mentoring Walk in Jaipur. Bibi is also the UN & UNESCO Brand Ambassador on ‘Fashion for Development’ who is known for her contribution towards the development of rural craftsmanship. Using the international runways, she has been promoting local art and crafts. Her company Bibi Productions has more than 35,000 weavers from rural Bangladesh.

Bibi has been featured in magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar; and has worked with fashion tycoons like Yves Saint Laurent, Kenzo, Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani. During her journey, she won titles of ‘Designer for Development’ and ‘Artist for Peace’ by UNESCO, and the Peace Prize 2004 by the United Nations Associations of Spain. Having achieved so much in life, she is still ambitious yet extremely down to earth.

While Bibi was walking with many Jaipur women who were Mentors and Mentees during the Mentoring Walk, we caught up with her for a small chat. Below are the excerpts:

JWB – You were a supermodel of your times when you came to Europe as a young girl from Bangladesh. What was your way to this height in your career?

Bibi Russell – The credit goes to my country and parents. They have taught me to dream big even if you belong to a small place. Bangladesh might look like a small country to the outer world with nothing much to offer, but it has great potential that is slowly learning to flaunt itself.

JWB – Was the journey tough though?

Bibi Russell – I was so focused on my vision that nothing else mattered.

JWB – You have been given the title of ‘Designer for Development’. Talk about it.

Bibi Russell – It is my way to empower craft people who lack resources. They have the talent and I have the resources to make their work renowned so that they can earn livelihood. There is so much art hidden in the interiors of countries like Bangladesh, India, Nepal, etc that hasn’t been witnessed by most of us.

JWB – How was your journey in Rajasthan?

Bibi Russell – Apart from Rajasthan’s handicrafts, I am in love with its women. Even today as I walked alongside many of them, I realized how beautiful and unique each one of them is.

JWB – Unique?

Bibi Russell – I think just like my country, even Jaipur women are underrated. They are so talented!

JWB – Which handicraft is your favorite from Rajasthan/Jaipur?

Bibi Russell – I am fascinated by the dyes. This kurti (pointing towards her clothes) is beautifully dyed with natural colors. You can’t get this stuff in international brands.

JWB – How can WE become the ‘People for Development’ in our state?

Bibi Russell – Awareness, Diversification and Targeting: these 3 points are a must. One must be aware of the art-talent of a region; one must find a diversification in that art which differs it from others; and make sure which market do you want to target.

JWB – Thank you very much, Bibi, for speaking to Jaipur Women through our blog.

Bibi Russell – God bless.

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