(Fashion Designer, International Model, UNESCO’s Artist for Peace and
Founder of ‘Bibi Productions)
A BIOGRAPHY OF BIBI RUSSEL
Bibi Russell is a Bangladeshi fashion designer as well as an internationally recognized fashion model. She is also the founder of ‘Bibi Productions,’ a world-renowned fashion brand that collaborates with Bangladeshi artisans.
Bibi was born in Chittagong and raised in Dhaka, where she completed her education. She was the first woman from Bangladesh to attend the elite London School of Fashion, graduating in 1975 with contracts from well-known labels. Bibi established her impact in the world of fashion and modeling by working with magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Harper’s Bazaar, as well as companies like Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, and Giorgio Armani.
Bibi has been honored by a number of prestigious organizations around the world, including the London Art University’s “Honorary Fellowship,” the Foundation of Entrepreneur Women’s “Entrepreneur Woman of the Year,” UNESCO’s “Special Envoy: Designer for Development,” UNESCO Artist for Peace, UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, and the YODONA Award for Humanity.
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Name: Bibi Russell
Internationally recognized fashion model
UNESCO’s Artist for Peace and
Founder of ‘Bibi Productions
Place of Birth: Chittagong, Bangladesh
Height: 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
London College of Fashion
College of Home Economics, Azimpur
Kamrunnessa Govt Girls High School
Father: Mokhlessur Rahman
Mother: Shamsun Nahar
Bangladesh National Film Award for Best Costume Design – 2009 for Moner Manush
Cross of Officer of the Order of Queen Isabella by the King of Spain
Russell is also a Fellow of Bangla Academy.
Honorary Fellowship of the London Institute.
Designer for Development in 1999 by UNESCO.
Artist for Peace by the UNESCO in 2001 and
The Peace Prize by the United Nations Associations of Spain in 2004.
Filmography: Moner Manush (2009)
Founder: Bibi Russel Fashion For Development
Early Life and Education of “Bibi Russell” :
Russell was born to Mokhlessur Rahman and Shamsun Nahar in Chittagong, Bangladesh, in 1950. She grew up in Dhaka, where she attended Kamrunnessa Govt Girls High School and afterwards Azimpur College of Home Economics.
While her siblings pursued careers in medicine and engineering, Bibi chose to pursue a degree in fashion design. Her parents were supportive of her decision, and she traveled to London to follow her ambitions. In 1975, she graduated from London College of Fashion with a master’s degree in fashion.
Bibi was the first woman from Bangladesh to attend the London College of Fashion, where she began a fifteen-year career as a model. She was instantly given modeling opportunities with Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, and Giorgio Armani after graduating in 1975 and modeling her own graduation show.
Bibi is 5’10” tall and began modeling in 1976. She dominated as a top model in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan magazines from 1986 to 1992.
Bibi modeled for practically all well-known brands, including Kodak, Channel, BMW, Toyota, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, and others, and walked the runway alongside nearly all of the world’s best models, including Naomi, Claudia, and others.
The supermodel for the top designers in the 1980s returned to Dhaka in 1990 to realize a long-held desire to develop an international reputation for locally produced textiles by promoting traditional Bangladeshi materials, Khadi and Jamdani, with the help of small loans from Grameen Bank,. Her unique ideas are being produced by 30,000 individuals, including knitters and craftspeople.
Bibi Russel has been appointed “UNESCO Special Envoy: “Designer for Development” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Bibi Russel’s dedication to the welfare of Bangladeshi weavers and her promotion of traditional crafts in the cause of human dignity, development, and poverty eradication was recognized by UNESCO Director General Federico Mayor, who announced the name in recognition of Bibi Russel’s commitment to the welfare of Bangladeshi weavers and her devotion to the promotion of traditional crafts in the cause of human dignity, development, and eradication of poverty.
Russell returned to Bangladesh in 1994 and founded Bibi Productions, a fashion brand that incorporated local Bengali cultural themes into her designs. Her enterprise employed 35,000 weavers in rural Bangladesh as of 2004.
Bibi made her US debut at the State of the World Forum’s closing ceremonies in November 1998, a six-day meeting of activists and global decision-makers. At the San Francisco presentation, young Bangladeshi models walked to folk music and ghazals in front of a backdrop covered in handloomed Bangla silk sarees. Sporty ensembles included hooded silk shirts worn over khadi-inspired slacks, while fanciful village outfits included flowing skirts knotted with yards of multi-textured silk. The crowd erupted in applause and gasps when a white bridal gown was displayed with stylized Hindu wedding attire and a sheer veil cleverly fastened at the shoulders.
Bibi was also the subject of Uttam Kumar Ghosh’s documentary, Bibi’s World, which premiered at the Alliance Française in 2002. Ghosh has centered the 45-minute documentary on Bibi’s life and profession, as well as the issues that the country’s weavers are now facing. Professor Anisur Rahman, actress Nazma Anwar, author Selina Hossain, Bibi’s mother Begum Shamsunnahar Rahman, French ambassador to Bangladesh Michel Lummaux, and weaver MontuBasak from Tangail are among those interviewed in the film. ‘Bibi is a known character in the world fashion scene, and she has been honored by UNESCO,’ Ghosh remarked later in an interview. Mine is the first documentary on her life and work ever filmed. It was a struggle for me. To save money for the trip, I sold my paintings.
Bibi Russell organized her first European fashion show (the first by a South Asian woman) in Paris in 1996 with the help of UNESCO. In 1997, she also arranged a fashion exhibition in Spain called The Colours of Bangladesh. She attended the sixth edition of India Runway Week in 2016, when she showed her current collection based on Rajasthan khadi. The Indian fashion industry applauded Bibi’s collection. She recently showed her collection at the opening show at India’s third largest fashion week, Indian Federation for Fashion Development’s India Runway Week Season 7, in the years 2016 and 18.
Philosophy Behind Bibi Productions:
According to Bibi Russell, Bibi Productions is not a non-profit organization, although we do make a small profit. It’s main focus is on preserving and revitalizing traditional crafts, as well as helping artisans and boosting their knowledge of the value of education and health.
Since she founded Bibi Productions in 1994, she has seen a difference. Everyone who works in the office or in the villages has a maximum of two or three children. They’ve learned how to handle their money better, and their standard of life has improved. They recognize the value of their children going to school since they have come out of poverty. Education and health are the foundations of any country’s economy.
Moner Manush (2009)
Bangladesh National Film Award for Best Costume Design – 2009 for Moner Manush
Woman of the Year” by Elle Magazine, 1997.
Honorary Fellowship” of the London Institute, 1999.
Entrepreneur Woman of the Year” by the Foundation of Entrepreneur Women, 1999.
UNESCO Special Envoy: Designer for Development”, 1999.
UNO representative, 2007.
On 8 March 1999 Bibi receives Women Awards 1999, at El Palauet Luca, Barcelona. Organized by FIDEM, and supported by the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce. She reccives international Award for her Bibi Productions in Bangladesh.
Asia Week Magazine honoured Bibi Russell as one of the top 20 people to watch in the millennium-1999.
UNESCO Artist for Peace- 2001.
Club of Budapest ‘You can change the world’ -2004
UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador-2008.
YODONA Award for Humanity- 2008.
Women Together for fashion and development-2008.
Ambassador of Amader Gram Breast Cancer-2009.
Bangla Academy Fellow- 2010.
“The cross of officer of the order of Queen Isabella” from the Government of Spain-2010.
PURPLE Global Achievement Award-2010.
Ambassador for Paddington Academy – England.
Board member of the Universal Forum of Cultures Foundation.
BeYu Lifetime award for Fashion and Development 2010.
2011 Independents Day Gold Medal for contribution towards social Development from Omar Siraj GQ Foundation.
“Urban Angel Award 2011” from New York Theological Seminary.
“Vision Award 2011” from Vision Summit, Germany.
Audience Award at Biograph Film Festival 2011, Italy for “Silken Synergy” Documentary
Fashion, according to Bibi Russell, is a need. She creates a strong message by combining hard facts, detailed techniques, and personal insights. Her capacity to connect with people’s hearts has made her one of Bangladesh’s most influential women.
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