There's been a paradigm shift in bridals with designers realising that customers are willing to experiment with wedding wear.
Some of the most commercially successful bridal collections are ones that have taken risks and innovated. For example, Zara Shahjahan’s floral lenghas and Misha Lakhani’s kaftans were phenomenally successful in previous seasons, seen extensively at society weddings, as were designs from Kamiar Rokni’s Orientalist collection the year before.
At bridal week industry stalwarts are expected, but this year’s PLBW is also an interesting blend of newcomers and designers that have started making a name for themselves. Ali Xeeshan brings his regular brand of theatricals while Saira Shakira is back after a solid debut last year. Mahgul has moved from the rising talent category to the “New Bridal Designers” category, a recent innovation from the council.
Notable absentees this year include Nida Azwer with her delicate bridal artistry and Zara Shahjahan who has impressed with her risk taking. Seher Tareen, one of last year’s Rising Talent section, has been posting Instagram images of original contemporary embroidery based on Mughal miniatures - but she is not showing this PLBW.
It would also have been nice to see more menswear too. Republic by Omar Farooq is one of the few showing some menswear along with groom-favourite HSY. The ramp will miss the likes of Amir Adnan and Deepak Perwani, both of whom are also top choices for grooms.
There’s still plenty to look forward to though. As well as winter velvets, PLBW should see lots of net and metallic organzas and silks.
In terms of silhouettes, expect to see current trends such as short shirts, embellished pants, capes, boot cut pants and crop tops on the ramp along with the inevitable ghararas and lenghas. Moreover, at this level, expect innovation. These designers know they are showing alongside talented peers and that they need to inject freshness into their collections in order to stand out.
What: Everything HSY Couture for Fall/Winter 2015
Why: The inspiration here is 'the heavens' – intricately detailed and incredibly feminine. HSY will play with new embellishment techniques, combining traditional techniques such as naqshi and gota with laser cutting, stone wrapping, hand-painting and digital printing.
Who: Ali Xeeshan Theatre Studio
What: This collection is titled Tufaan
Why: Inspired by a storm thundering through a quiet desert, the idea is that once the storm has subsided and passed, the desert transforms its character and takes a different form. Despite the theatrical nature of his presentations, Ali Xeeshan is technically accomplished under all the drama. He is using leather laser cutting in the collection along with succha work that uses fine gold wires.
The quietly consistent:
Who: The House of Kamiar Rokni
What: This collection is titled Alchemy
Why: Kami doesn’t show every year, but when he does it’s worth seeing. Expect lots of variety – cropped pants to ballgowns in the collection shown above. “We emphasise the fact that there is no ONE look. We advocate playing with different silhouettes,” says Kami.
Who: Misha Lakhani
What: Her collection is called Wanderlust
Why: Expect travel mementos, Art Deco design, Ottoman and old Indian craft and heritage. Also expect old-world charm, an eclectic fusion of textiles and vintage craftsmanship. The Misha Lakhani bride is a bohemian heiress who challenges convention yet loves all things traditional.
Here is what it looks like:
Who: Karma Red
What: The collection is called Shezadi Rang Aur Samarkand ki Rani
Why: Expect exquisite, dramatic femininity. Karma are showing two capsule collections, one a madcap colourful one for a desi diva and the second a romantic, glamorous one encompassing Karma’s modern ethnicity which can be seen below:
Who: Republic by Omar Farooq
What: The collection is titled Rosa
Why: Expect inspiration from the works of designer Madeleine Vionnet, with embroideries reflecting Greek ornaments and flowers and hints of Art Deco. Francois Lesage’s mother, Marie-Louise, was in charge of embroidery at Madeleine Vionnet and developed special beading and embroidery techniques for her. Sana Safinaz have also drawn inspiration from Lesage which can be seen here:
Who: Asifa & Nabeel
What: The collection is called Venetian Dreams.
Why: The inspiration here is Venetian balconies leading to wild gardens. Watch for 3D embellishment and pretty pinks accented against dark ebony.
The dark horse:
Who: Saira Shakira
What: The collection is called Seeking Paradise
Why: This lineup is inspired by Russian Pavlovski Posad shawls. Saira Shakira were one of last year’s biggest risk-takers, showing wedding wear with shirt collars and other unusual details. Relatively new to bridal wear, their avante garde approach is exciting, and we can't wait to see what's next.
The 'new' designers:
Who: Suffuse by Sana Yasir
What: Her collection is called Falaknuma
Why: The Taj Falaknuma Palace is an exquisite example of Italian baroque and sub-continental architecture and interiors. Sana Yasir is another designer who envisages a modern bride who respects her culture and heritage, melding heritage crafts and contemporary cuts.
What: Her collection is called Vivante
Why: Mahgul says she was inspired by various still life oil paintings. The collection features accessories made in-house, including minaudieres made with filigree patterns in brass and other metals.
The rising talent:
Who: Maheen Taseer
What: Her collection is called Vailliant (that's French for Valiant)
Why: The collection is dedicated to her missing husband Shahbaz Taseer, who she says has “taught me to stand tall in adversity.” Maheen has quietly been making a name for herself in Lahore with stately modern silhouettes paired with traditional embroidery.
Who: Zarmisha Dar
What: Her collection is titled Gullistan
Why: Gullistan is a Turkish word for “Garden of Roses.” Zarmisha will be showing lots of net in pastel colours with cora, dabka, gota and threadwork.
Who: Jeem by Hamza Bokhari
What: The collection is called Ruzzkiy Kukly
Why: Hamza's collection is an ode to the journey of Babushka Doll who visits Pakistan. Hamza had an installation at the International Fashion Showcase earlier this year in London. Technically gifted, he is capable of much.
Who: Faiza Saqlain
What: Faiza's collection is called The Regal Dawn
Why: The inspiration here is Queen Elizabeth I, very much a leader of fashion, and her gowns. Faiza has shown in the rising talent section of PSFW but this is her first time at a bridal fashion week.