Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s sartorial choices were as successful as her Oscar-winning documentary. Very similar to her acceptance speech, her wardrobe was confident while retaining the pureness of being a sophisticated and contemporary Pakistani woman. She chose her designers (all women) intelligently: Sania Maskatiya for a young and progressive feel, Sana Safinaz for an essence of fusion with the world’s aesthetic ethos and Bunto Kazmi for the richness of hand-embroidered Pakistani couture.
Her jewelry was just as much a statement as her clothes. The gold cuff she wore to the ceremony – designed by Kiran Aman of Kiran Fine Jewellery – was held together by Pakistan’s flag created with white diamonds and green sapphires. It dangled as she lifted her Oscar for the world to see. Sharmeen also wore a diamond bracelet and ring by Sherezad later in the evening for the Vanity Fair party and undoubtedly dazzled the night away in customized rubies and diamonds.
It mustn’t have been easy for SOC to make the final choices of what to wear, especially since pressure came from designers all over the country who were calling her insistently. The incessant debate on social websites Twitter and Facebook must have been mind-boggling too. What to wear, what not to wear? Something modern, something patriotic? Should it have a touch of white and green? Should it be a Sana Safinaz gown or a Bunto Kazmi gharara built like a gown?
The Oscar winner made her pick intelligently, avoiding frivolous and racy numbers that most celebrities opt to wear on red carpet even in Pakistan. She also avoided anything that would look remotely Indian. “We opted against giving her a churidar to wear with the ivory outfit,” Bunto Kazmi spoke to Dawn Images.
There was nothing that would take away from the sobriety of her documentary while rejoicing the moment at the same time. What she wore was quintessentially Pakistani, and it attracted attention for it’s uniqueness with high profile Nepalese/American designer Prabal Gurung commenting on Twitter: “I liked her salwaar kameez (sic).”
The ‘salwar kameez’ he referred to was the ensemble designed by Bunto Kazmi, a sleeveless shirt worn with wide-leg izar trousers. The ivory georgette-tissue outfit had been embroidered with pure resham to create motifs in wasli from Persian miniatures: glorious birds entwined with delicate fauna and it retained simplicity that was essential to complement the dignity of a film maker of SOC’s caliber. It was a classic statement that went down very well.
“We wanted to design something that represented the modern Pakistani woman,” echoed Safinaz Muneer who co-designed (with Sana) a heavily embellished outfit for SOC to wear to the Vanity Fair after party. The trailing hemline of this gold/silver stunner prolonged her fashion moment into the early hours of the morning.
These images will go down in history and while nothing compares to the importance of the moment Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy won Pakistan’s first Oscar, there is no reason why the style statements she made shouldn’t be remembered just as proudly.