The Maria B brand has been criticised by a member of the Abbasi family, who were formerly the rulers of the princely state of Bahawalpur, for using their family’s private cemetery as a setting for their fashion campaign photoshoot.
On Thursday, pictures of the ‘Roohi’ designer’s latest collection were shared on Facebook.
The advertisement campaign showcased photographs captured in different parts of Bahawalpur. The models were photographed walking and twirling in different locations, including a private graveyard that belonged to the Bahawalpur royal family. However, the videos and pictures have been removed, and the Maria B page issued an apology for the “regrettable event.”
For around 250 years, from 1690 to 1955, the Abbasi dynasty governed the region of Bahawalpur. The ancient Royal Graveyard, located in the Ahmadpur Sharqia Tehsil of Bahawalpur, contains the graves of the Abbasi Nawab family leaders, such as Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi, the past ruler of the Bahawalpur state.
On his public Instagram account, Changez Khan, who is the grandson of Sahibzada Mohammad Daud Khan Abbasi and the great-grandson of the last nawab, shared images from the campaign and accused Maria B of conducting an unapproved photo session on his maternal grandfather’s grave. He expressed, “This is my Nana’s grave. The model is literally twirling on my grandfather’s resting place!”
In an interview with a news outlet, Khan shared his perspective on the incident and stated that the location where the photo shoot took place is their private property, which also happens to be a historical graveyard of his maternal family. He expressed his displeasure with the campaign, specifically the image of a model twirling on his grandfather’s grave. According to Khan, several members of the Abbasi family, including his aunts and grandfather, are buried there. He further added that Maria B conducted the photo session on their private property without seeking permission, which he considers both appalling and unethical.
Khan emphasised that the Abbasi family is not seeking any financial compensation, but instead, they want a public apology from the designer. He expressed that the family desires for someone to take responsibility for the unauthorised photo shoot on their private property. Although Maria B removed the post, Khan wants this to serve as an example that such actions are both unethical and illegal. He stated that if a public apology is not issued, the family will take legal action against the designer.
On Friday, Maria B’s official Instagram page issued an apology stating that the campaign was created in collaboration with a production house to showcase the cultural heritage of Bahawalpur. However, the team had no prior knowledge about the importance and sacredness of the location. The statement acknowledged that the shoot was edited and published without realising the significance of the site.
The brand expressed gratitude towards the individuals who brought the matter to their attention and confirmed that they have promptly taken action by removing all the relevant content. The statement continued by conveying their sincere apologies to those who were understandably distressed by the unfortunate incident.