This Woman’s Organisation Took Acid Attack Survivors’ Craftsmanship To Milan Fashion Week


There’s nothing a woman can’t achieve if she has the dedication, a strong passion and a great platform to work with. Kulsum Hothur Shadab, a Bangalore born activist proves this statement so accurately. Kulsum founded an NGO called Hothur Foundation that helps acid attack victims with financial, medical and other help they need. But she does so much more than just that. Her foundation has even recruited these survivors to create stunning headgears. These products from her collective of designers called Ara Lumiere were so wildly appreciated that they even featured at Milan Fashion Week this season. We had the opportunity to get to know about her foundation in depth, and she shared her thoughts on what brought on the foundation and how it famed its way to Milan. Here’s what she had to say.

1. What was the thought behind starting the Hothur Foundation?

Hothur Foundation is spearheaded by me, aimed at addressing and uplifting the economically backward by providing quality education, medical aid, maternity, matrimonial guidance and counselling for girls as well as a contribution to infrastructural growth through roads, bus shelters and educational centres. Hothur Foundation gives a voice to acid attack survivors and the problems they face being re-integrated into society. I have been vociferous in the advocation of skin banking, skin banking a concept still new and uncommon in India. But one that needs to be popularised immediately. Acid attack survivors are trained with a lot of vocational training and different workshops are held across India for them with renowned speakers from different fields who motivate them and help them become independent individuals! We also have burns camps where we gather survivors from all over India and give them medical aid in terms of surgeries to rehabilitate them. We correct the functional deformities and help economically challenged burn survivors to lead a near normal life who could not afford the corrective surgery.In these camps we aim at surgically treating them to correct functional, non-cosmetic deformities and contractures, reducing the patient’s disabilities and improving their quality of life at no cost to the patients.

2. Can you explain what Ara Lumiere is?

Showcasing their AW19 collection at Milan Fashion Week was initially scouted at the Scouting for India initiative by Vogue Talents in association with FAD in Mumbai, FAD has partnered with Vogue Italia to give Indian designers a global outreach through showcasing opportunities, media visibility and stocking opportunities. At the Milan Fashion Week, part of the fashion hub market, a selection of 12 up-and-coming Italian and foreign brands got a chance to present their clothes and accessories collections the shortlisted participants were from Paris, Italy, Seoul, China, Ukraine and India. Winning hearts was our brand handcrafted by acid attack survivors Ara Lumiere.

3. The collection that debuted at MFW, what was the inspiration behind it?

Firstly, I’m overwhelmed to see my brave team of acid attack survivors on an international and most coveted fashion platform. Secondly, the kind of response and admiration I have received has been absolutely amazing at every step. And lastly, our new collection called Renaissance De La Fleur which means the rebirth of the flower where we have used real fallen flowers which are no more in use—symbolic to our survivors of Hothur Foundation, ironically it is them who have fetched life to the flowers. And the flowers who have given purpose to them!

4. What’s next for Ara Lumiere?

The ethos of the brand is that the most precious things can be born out of the most difficult situations! I want my survivors’ talents to be known worldwide. It’s just the beginning of a great journey ahead!

5. What did it feel like to watch these creations take centre stage at MFW?

Absolutely overwhelmed by the response and admiration I have received for my women on an international platform and most covered fashion platform.

Women like Kulsum inspire others to make a difference. She made scars turn into an opportunity and that itself is commendable. We really hope that her brand reaches brilliant levels of achievement as it deserves. This goes to show that even a story that was born in pain or distress can turn into something lovely if one has the will.

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