Rehana, lady in blue, is picking cotton in her hometown close to the Cholistan desert in Pakistan; a region known for its fine embroiderers, 9th century fort, and glorious mosque. Along with 300 other women, Rehana belongs to SheWorks, a new business venture led by remarkable designer, Samina Mahmud, creating a model that can be replicated across the country by thousands of artisans inspired by their deep cultural heritage.
Two summers ago, while sniffing around for inspiration in an encyclopedic book of ancient textiles, (one of my favorite pastimes), I come across a man's jacket that makes me stop. And then stop some more. Straight up the back is a Tree of Life as I've never seen before, the archetype of a soul rooted in the earth, branching toward the heavens, and bearing fruit here and now. And the fruit! Though centuries old and living in a museum, the orbs are utterly modern. I close my eyes. I'm wearing a whole dress, top to bottom, with this tree of life articulating my spine, reminding me why I am here. I already love it.
The design team at Ibu adapted, sketched, and sent off a pattern to Samina and the women of the Punjab.
Can I tell you, please, how long and hard Rehana and her team worked, how many samples our design luminaries, Marisa and Erin, corrected, how proud I am to present this offering, two years later?
I once attempted to learn mirror work and monumentally failed. It's an art to master and I never did. But Rehana more than mastered it; she rocked it up, down and around that desert. She made of that tree an emblem of herself. Rooted in a resplendent past that sources her creative life. Standing tall and strong like the unbending trunk of a tree. And arms, eyes, to the skies, unlimited, and free.
That's a dress I want to wear for the rest of my life. That's a tree I want to be.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker