This year’s TDAP fashion show featured a spectrum of Pakistan’s top designers including Deepak Perwani and Sana Safinaz. The two-day event was a mishmash of rehashed collections from earlier fashion weeks, cobbled together capsule collections and a handful of new collections – notably from Zaheer Abbas and Nida Azwer.
|Zaheer Abbas' Ode to Thar was inspired —Publicity photo
The event also suffered from clashing with PFDC’s Swarovski Couture weekend, which meant that many of the country’s top models were only available on the first day of the event, as they flew off to Lahore on the second day.
Every year, the industry has the same tired conversation about the TDAP fashion show. The fashion show has little or no relevance when it comes to the fashion industry. Our designers certainly aren’t in a position to manufacture with consistency and quality control at the volumes that foreign buyers would need. Most persist in showing western collections that have little or no market in Pakistan. These are the arguments that are trotted out time and again.
|YBQ included some interesting styling and silhouettes —Publicity photo
It’s true that the annual TDAP fashion show is more a PR exercise than anything else – a chance to show that Pakistan is more than what people see on the news. The fact remains that the various council-led fashion weeks are a better showcase for the Pakistan fashion industry.
TDAP does a great job promoting Pakistani exports and buyers do come from far and wide - to buy our surgical instruments and our footballs. These buyers generally have little or no interest in fashion and through the evening you can see various groups of foreign buyers drifting away from the show leaving empty seats behind.
Pakistan’s Fashion fraternity deserves better. It’s a vibrant industry that employs thousands of people and generates significant revenue. Pakistani fashion designers may not generate huge volumes of export but they are consistent employers than have significant sales both locally and abroad. What TDAP needs to focus on is their initiatives targeting actual buyers of Pakistani fashion – in Singapore and the Middle East for example.
|Fnk Asia’s newspaper prints were quirky and eye-catching. —Publicity photo
It needs to foster opportunities for our legions of artisan craftsmen who produce exquisite hand embroidery. Pakistani fashion may not be at the stage where they can target mass markets, but local designers and artisans have the ability to prosper in niche markets.
So where does this leave the annual TDAP fashion show? It probably generates no revenue at all for the designers involved except in terms of raising their general profile. Showing scanty capsules in order to raise the profile of the event does the designers themselves no favours at all. It’s all very well to cite that the event includes the likes of Karma and Sana Safinaz but a handful of outfits by each leaves a weak impression.
|Sana Safinaz's capsule collection - a mere glimpse of what they are capable of —Publicity photo
While it’s interesting to see a glimpse of what designers like Naushaba Brohi, Sadaf Malaterre and Faraz Mannan are capable of, it is difficult for designers to display the sort of creative vision that they can with a full collection.
The best shows were by designers who treated the platform seriously, and showed a collection specifically designed for this event. Nida Azwer’s Baahir collection may not have any foreign takers but it was a great advertisement for what Pakistani fashion actually is and more than that, it’s a collection that will sell well among the people who actually buy our designer wear. Nida’s fresh springtime yellows were arresting but it was her cutwork showstopper with a digitally printed gharara that really stood out.
|Nida Azwer's breezy Baahir collection was true to her elegant Eastern aesthetic —Publicity photo
Similarly Zaheer Abbas’ collection would have stood out at any council-led fashion week in the country. Using chunri and trendy mirror work, Abbas showed a selection of modern Eastern silhouettes. His white cape with embroidered elephant motifs was simply stunning. Showing both creativity and craftsmanship, this was Abbas at the top of his game.
Not all the new collections impressed. Ali Xeeshan is an acquired taste at the best of times. His over-the-top floral prints and bright sequined Obi belts were a spectacle but ultimately too garish.
|Ali Xeeshan's spring collection featured gaudy florals —Publicity photo
Of the rest, Fnk Asia’s newspaper prints were a nice touch and Delphi’s signature crochet dresses were attractive. Seeing some of the best collections of recent months back on the ramp was also acceptable – Madiha Riaz’ Flight of Birds collection and Adnan Pardesy’s Labyrinth collection were both worthy of a second look. Both had a strong concept and were immaculately executed. Both Riaz and Pardesy added elements for this second showing, adding outfits that they had not shown earlier.
|Sometimes deja-vu is a good thing - Adnan Pardesy's Labyrinth collection and Madiha Riaz's Flight of Birds —Publicity photo
At the end of the day TDAP and both the country’s main fashion councils need to really think about how the TDAP fashion show can create value for Pakistan’s fashion industry. A fashion show lends some much needed glamour to TDAP’s annual Expo but the show needs to be more that what one journo called “evening entertainment for foreign buyers”.