Bibi Russell|| Biography of a Bangladeshi Fashion Designer & Former Model

About Bibi Russell:

Bibi Russell is a world-renowned fashion designer. She worked as a model in Europe and later moved into Bangladesh to start working on fashion designing. Bibi has an objective to showcase the Bengali culture to the world with a touch of color. She empowered village craftspeople. Bibi has a passion for the deep-rooted history of South India. Due to her immense talent, contribution to the fashion industry and peace program, Bibi recognized by different elite institutions. On many occasions, Bibi Russell explained her attachment to Bangladesh and her wish to do something better for the people of this region.

The life story of Bibi Russell:

Bibi Russell was born on 19th August 1950 in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Her parents were Mokhlessur Rahman and Shamsun Nahar. This couple had 5 children and Bibi was 3rd among them. Bibi studied from Kamrunnessa Govt Girls High School and Later College of Home Economics. She mentioned about childhood when her mother used to sew clothes for them. Everyone including her sisters was happy with it, however, Bibi was never been satisfied. Due to her immense interest, Bibi’s father bought a sewing machine to her at the age of 10. At that age, she could not hold the scissors properly but her experiment with it continued.

Between the age of 6 to 12, she won several awards for different cultural events. However, she wanted to do something different. So she applied for the London College of Fashion for higher education in fashion designing. After six months of effort, she finally managed to admit there. During 1972, she was admitted there as the first Bangladeshi woman.

Bibi Russell has two children and they are living aboard. She mentioned in an interview that when children were 9 & 10, she understood her desire in designing and she knew she had to do it, otherwise she would be frustrated.

Bibi Russell
Source: gonokontho.com

The career of Bibi Russell:

First Buzz in the industry

In 1975, Bibi Russell completed her graduation. In the same year, she made designing and became the model of her own product in her college. It created a buzz among the industry. Bibi was 5’10” in height and a great sense of color, mixture, and design. She started her modeling career from 1976 and continued for 16 years. She worked for some renowned brands including Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Harper Baazar, Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, Carl Lagerfield and many more.

Return to Bangladesh

Despite having a very successful career in Europe, she returned to Bangladesh in 1994. On 13th July 1995, she opened her own production house “Bibi Production”.  She came back to Bangladesh to work with the traditional textile and handicrafts industry. Instead of regular cloth, she focused on, Khadi, Jamdani, Gamcha, and other intuitive Bangladeshi fabrics. She traveled the country to find work with weaver and improve their lifestyle.

“Bibi Product” knocked the world:

As the pioneer woman from South Asia, Bibi arranged her first European show in 1996 in Paris. The show named “Weavers of Bangladesh”. UNESCO supported Bibi Russell to arrange the show. Following that, in 1997 she arranged another show “The Colours of Bangladesh” with the support of “Queen of Spain”. Since then Bibi became the face of the Bangladeshi model industry to the international arena and continued to participate in arrays of global model events regularly.

Loving the root:

Bibi Russell always had an attraction to her roots. Despite having the enormous skills, fluent in three different languages (Bangla, English, and Italian) and having strong value in foreign country, she decided to come back to Bangladesh. She had a passion to work for the weavers. Bibi wanted to expose the Bangladeshi handwoven industry to the world. When she came back to Bangladesh, she traveled from village to village to find the unprivileged weavers. She did not only visited them to learned about their culture and trade policy. Bibi is still the person to be vocal for these unsung heroes from the country’s remote corners. Currently, more than 35,000 weavers are involved with her organization.

Bibi Russell also worked as a fashion designer in “Moner Manush” movie (2009)

Awards:

Due to her impressive work, she achieved numerous awards and recognition from around the world. Some of those mentioned below:

1997: Selected as “Woman of the year” by L Magazine
1999: Received honorable fellowship from London Art University, selected as “Designer for development” by UNESCO
2001: Awarded “Artist for Peace” by UNESCO
2004: Awarded “Peace Prize” from United Nations Associations of Spain
2008: Selected as “Goodwill Ambassador” by UNAIDS
2010: Received highest civilian award of Spain “The Cross Of Officier Of The Order Of Queen Isabella”, Received “National Movie Award” for the best fashion designer in the “Moner Manush” movie.
2015: Received the “Begum Rokeya” award.

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