Skipping out on the fashion week calendar where Autumn/Winter events are mainstays, Karachi’s Fashion Pakistan Council (FPC) has opted to host its fashion week in the tail-end of November.

Originally slotted to take place in early October, the event has now aptly been renamed ‘Winter/Festive’. Better late than never – the designer line-up looks very promising, boasting Karachi’s heavyweights alongside two of the biggest names in bridal fashion from Lahore.

Fashion week stalwarts Shehla Chatoor, Sania Maskatiya, Deepak Perwani, Ayesha Hashwani, Wardha Saleem, Sana Safinaz, Maheen Karim, Elan, Nida Azwer, FnkAsia, Zaheer Abbass, Zainab Chhotani, Tena Durrani, Faraz Manan and Nauman Arfeen will be showcasing at the event.

Nida Tapal’s Delphi also features in the line-up, a brand that shows sporadically but never fails to hit the mark. Nilofer Shahid has been roped in for the grand finale and Umer Sayeed makes a comeback to the catwalk.

One looks forward to newcomer Hisham Malik’s show. The designer won in the Bank Alfalah Rising Talent category earlier this year at the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week and is going to be venturing into bridals and formals at FPW. Obaid Sheikh is another relatively new name.

Given that ‘Winter is coming’ – it’s already prematurely arrived in some parts of the country – we’re expecting the usual haul of coats, capes, shawls and variations of wraparounds.

Bridal-wear is also going to be dominating most of the collections. It has often been debated that FPC needs to separate out a day – if not an entire fashion week – to bridal design. Bunching together ready-to-wear with anglicized luxe and shimmery bridals on the same platform can be very confusing.

Then again, with all and sundry vying to latch onto the money-minting shaadi market, even most luxury-pret these days emulates trousseau and bridal-wear. No doubt, Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW) is going to be serving up considerable doses of bling, intricate hand embroideries and cut-work detailings.

Which is fine – as long as we don’t see any hackneyed digital prints or done-to-death beadwork on net or fifty shades of pastel colored bridals that rendered us colorblind at the PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week (PLBW) this October.

Will FPW’s designer montage rise to the challenge of presenting cutting-edge fashion or resort to the mundane but retail-friendly? We will see. For now, here’s what we find particularly interesting about the upcoming fashion week…

“An October to November delay doesn’t matter” – FPC CEO Wardha Saleem

FPC CEO Wardha Saleem thinks it's the ideal time to show luxury-pret that can be purchased off-the-rack – Publicity photo
FPC CEO Wardha Saleem thinks it's the ideal time to show luxury-pret that can be purchased off-the-rack – Publicity photo

“All designers showcasing their formal-wear either in October or November are targeting orders that they will fulfill in the coming year. From that viewpoint, it doesn’t matter if FPW got postponed from its originally scheduled dates,” reasons Wardha. “Also, with the winter party season right around the corner, this is the ideal time to show luxury-pret that can be purchased off-the-rack.”

FPW was postponed due to myriad impediments including a clash of dates with the annual Lux Style Awards (LSA’s) and the onset of the religious month of Muharram.

“A lot of hard work goes into orchestrating a fashion week. Of course, we wanted it to take place at a time when models were easily available for rehearsals and we could get the maximum media mileage. This would not have been possible had we gone ahead with the event just a day after the LSAs,” points out Wardha.

Lahore’s bridal best

Elan stole the show at the PLBW Loreal Bridal Week 2015 in  September – Publicity photos
Elan stole the show at the PLBW Loreal Bridal Week 2015 in September – Publicity photos

Khadijah Shah’s Elan has steadily worked its way into becoming a country-wide bridal favorite and it is heartening to see the brand think ‘business’ and participate in FPW.

Hitherto, Khadija had only shown at fashion weeks in her hometown Lahore. Showing in Karachi makes sense now, she says, as she follows up her bridal showcase at PLBW two months ago with luxury-pret at FPW.

“We are going to be opening our first standalone store in Karachi by early next year,” explains Khadijah. “Showing at fashion week acts as a preamble to the store launch and is a way for the brand to announce its arrival on Karachi’s fashion scene.”

Also flying in from Lahore is Faraz Manan, a designer who has of late evaded the fashion week circuit, opting instead for some very successful private shows. High on the recent opening of his first store in Dubai, Faraz brings bridal and trousseau-wear to FPW. “

I have shown at FPW several times and have a good working relationship with the FPC,” says the designer. “Also, my Karachi clientele is constantly enquiring after my couture and the fashion week provides us with the perfect platform to showcase it."

Given that both designers have steady clienteles in Karachi, both shows are going to be highly anticipated.

Long time no see, Umer Sayeed!

Umar Sayeed turned up the excitement at PLBW 2011 with showstoppers Mahira and Fawad Khan – Photography by Faisal Farooqui @ Dragonfly
Umar Sayeed turned up the excitement at PLBW 2011 with showstoppers Mahira and Fawad Khan – Photography by Faisal Farooqui @ Dragonfly

Aside from a show at the Telenor Bridal Couture Week last year, designer Umer Sayeed has more or less stayed away from fashion weeks, citing them as not worth the expense. But even the biggest names need to stay in the limelight in order to draw in clientele and FPW marks Umer’s return to a council-lead catwalk after four years.

“The FPC was very accommodating and allowed me the slot that I wanted. More than anything else, this is what made me decide to be part of the show,” says the designer.

Umer will, of course, be showcasing his latest bridal and trousseau-wear.

Shehla Chatoor’s bridal debut

Shehla has previously limited herself to bridal showcases, such as this one at the PFDC - The Boulevard in 2013 – Photo courtesy mediadiaries.com
Shehla has previously limited herself to bridal showcases, such as this one at the PFDC - The Boulevard in 2013 – Photo courtesy mediadiaries.com

Shehla Chatoor has kept her thriving bridal business fiercely under wraps, refusing to air it out in order to maintain exclusivity.

Now, two decades into her career, the designer’s bridal designs are finally set to walk the runway in all the tediously embellished, exquisitely worked glory that is quintessentially Shehla.

“These days, young brides often choose their bridal dress themselves and they turn to social media as a point of reference,” says Shehla. “It made me realize that it was time that I celebrated my career as a bridal designer with a fashion week outing.”

The collection, says the designer, delves into an ivory and gold palette and runs the gamut from classic to edgy bridals to trousseau-wear that can be worn as separates.

Knowing Shehla’s predilection for details, the designer is bound to devise entire looks for her show, right from the clothes to the shoes and accessories.

This debut also highlights the changing ways of local fashion, shifting away from clients requiring exclusivity to those requiring the latest rage to have become an Instagram hit.

A Nilofer Shahid finale

Nilofer Shahid's runway appearances are a rarity - Photo courtesy exquisevents
Nilofer Shahid's runway appearances are a rarity - Photo courtesy exquisevents

Speaking of debuts, FPW will also see its first ever show by veteran designer Nilofer Shahid. The designer’s career spans three decades of awe-inspiring, ornate fashion, traversing tributes to Khalil Jibran, Chughtai and dialogues between Iqbal and Rumi. Despite her exemplary flair for design and consistent clientele, Nilofer had thus far largely stayed from the fashion week brigade.

“I had personal reasons for staying away from the spotlight and besides, fashion’s current commercialistic tendencies don’t appeal to me,” she says.

“Designers are in such a rush to churn out one collection after another and raise media mileage that they forsake their creativity and passion. Their designs begin to look the same and it gets boring. I want to stay true to my design ethos even if that means skipping out on fashion weeks and maintaining a low profile."

"My label, the House of Meeras, has been applauded the world over for the original way in which it showcases Pakistan’s heritage. I don’t ever want to lose out on my signature,” she added.

Nilofer’s collection, earmarked for FPW’s grand finale, is an ode to the work of Rembrandt.

“It is my humble tribute to the Great Master,” she says. “I was transfixed by his work that I saw at the Rijksmuseum at Amsterdam. This collection is a sartorial ode to his genius, the techniques through which he played with darkness and light, shadow and movement, almost allowing one to see into his mind.”

Nilofer Shahid’s inimitable couture on the catwalk is definitely slated to be an FPW high, keeping the audience rooted to its seats till the grand finale.

New sponsor on the block: Urdu1

Urdu1 stepped in as the official media sponsor of PLBW in October and now follows it up by sidling with FPW, neatly leaving out former longtime sponsor HUM Network. It’s a curious change and one that was probably prompted due to the extra air-time that HUM TV allots to its personal venture, the bi-annual Telenor Bridal Couture Week.

HUM Network, though, had become a veteran at filming and airing fashion weeks. Will the fledgling Urdu1 manage to match these standards? We’ll see when the fashion week actually airs on TV.

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