Well the concept of using Fashion and spreading a social message struck me when I was walking around and saw a lot of garbage’s near the roads around my house area and the streets . I was toying with the idea of doing a different kind of photoshoot that would help spread social awareness, be creative as well as be less cost effective and that’s when the concept of UGLY is BEAUTY was born in my head. Emails were exchanged and many coffee sessions at Art Café with Yangchen Dukpa the editor of Bhutan Youth newspaper finally resulted in the Fashion Spread. The clothes for the shoot were made out of newspaper, plastic and old fabric as lining. A week was spent doing four different set of wardrobe.
Everyone we knew warned us about the stench in Memelakha and true to their words it was disastrous. I felt like the smell went right up my nose and hit somewhere in the ceiling of my head, even my non existent sinus opened up. We were welcomed by a swarm of flies that came straight at us. Dressing the now almost about to faint models was another challenge. There were dogs everywhere of all kinds saw apsoos, a pug with long legs and old frail bulls. The place almost felt eerie in the sense it looked like everything that society did not care about was dumped there (animals and garbage namely). After an hour into the photoshoot we got used to the place even the swarming flies did not have effect on us, even our two new member two young boys from Bhutan Youth office who were there to assist us now want to pursue outdoor fashion photography as a alternative source of income, that’s how we inspired each other during the shoot. In a strange way the place almost felt contemplative, everywhere you look around in Memelhaka from the garbage to the abandoned animals it make you think deep. One look at the mountain of garbage and you wonder if all those things used were even necessary in the first place.
The highlight of the day was the bathu (dough noodles) at Hongtsu and our young models, style assistant and driver of the day Yangchen Dukpa singing the entire journey one song after another. Life truly is living in the moment.
Through this shoot we also wanted to present forward the commodification of women by media, namely western. The idea that the media tries to put forward “defect” thereby trying to convince us that we are lacking something. Although it’s a very subjective topic and it differs form people to people. We wanted to bring out the true essence of a woman much as the lotus that even in a murky pond still looks radiant, beautiful and with a sense of dignity and authority over her. To be very honest some of my most inspiring role models have been the women in my life, my mother, friends, nieces, aunts, kindergarten Teacher or a lady selling doma with a baby strapped at her back and another nursing her breast in the streets.
Me and my close friends together have set up a page on facebook “ BHUTAN street Fashion “ and we have received an overwhelming response with mails and encouragement pouring from members home and overseas. But with adulations comes the brickbats too. People should learn to distinguish the fact that we represent the street trends in
and not the Zorig Chosum . Some mails were even racial and life threating much to our amusement. In the end all we would like to put forward is that nothing you see on our page is scripted or unreal it’s the masses, the people who go about their daily lives in style and that is what we capture. Thank you so much for your support and our team shall bring you many more events and photoshoots in the near future free of prejudice, colour, caste or creed. Bhutan
The Sketch before making the recycled dress.