FPW Day 2: Elan and Wardha Saleem rule the night by staying true to their ethos

Day 2 saw some of fashion’s hottest names fumble and falter. What went wrong?
Updated 30 Nov, 2015 02:57pm

The big fat Pakistani wedding dominated the second day of Fashion Pakistan Week’s Winter Festive.

Weddings are, after all, the be all and end all of winter festivities in the country. Had FPW taken place earlier, perhaps some of the designers could have taken on orders for formals and cashed in on the current wedding season. This is a long-hackneyed crib, though — the council has its many reasons for showing when it wants to show and really, the delay can be overlooked as long as the catwalk showcases exciting fashion.

Sadly, not all of Day 2’s fashion offerings were exciting. As those of us who frequent the fashion week circuit know all too well, bridal bling can go awry so easily. Motifs and pearls drooped and dropped onto the runway in a certain showcase; in others, colours clashed and cutwork meshed uncomfortably with texture and every embroidery under the sun was seen as some of fashion’s hottest names fumbled and faltered.

Unfathomably, designers just don’t seem to be interested in pushing the envelope. Day 2 was dominated by silhouettes that had been seen umpteen times before, ‘safe’ colour palettes and designs that were content toeing ‘pretty’ lines rather than aim for the cutting-edge. The artistry and passion was missing and in an effort to be market-friendly, fashion lost its verve.

We did love the celebrity showstoppers, though. They break the ennui, allow us to have occasional ‘fan’ moments and they’re going to have the TV audience in raptures once FPW is aired by official media sponsor Urdu1.

Ahsan Khan (R) and Hareem Farooq (M) were two of the showstoppers of the night
Ahsan Khan (R) and Hareem Farooq (M) were two of the showstoppers of the night

Speaking of Urdu1, the channel is exuberantly trying to make a mark, hosting an elaborate star-studded brunch at Café Flo, having its logo splattered generously down the red carpet and sometimes plugging in promotional video clips in between fashion shows. Fashion, apparently, is what might just make the channel gain a savvier image, expanding its audience beyond fans of Turkish soaps. Last month, Urdu1 replaced HUM Network as the official media sponsor for the PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week and now it has done the same with FPW.

Coming back to the celebrities on the runway, the Diyar-e-Dil couple Osman Khalid Butt and Maya Ali walked the catwalk while Zeb Bangash sang for Wardha Saleem’s show. Ahsan Khan was flanked by not one, but two brides for Nida Azwer and Hareem Farooque took to the runway for FnkAsia. Deepak Perwani had Zoe Viccaji sing live, followed by showstoppers Sana Bucha and Wiqar Ali Khan.

Zooming in on the fashion, here’s what we loved and what we didn’t …

Elan

Elan’s ‘Sauvage’ safely stayed away from the wedding circuit, preferring to make a splash with luxury-pret.

This was the brand’s first ever show in Karachi and it highlighted designer Khadijah Shah’s unmistakable flair for fashion. Her bridal designs set the bar high at PLBW last month and at FPW, she presented luxury-pret that was on-trend and absolutely head-turning.

Khadija Shah's fashion jungle was on point
Khadija Shah's fashion jungle was on point

Prints took center stage in this line-up, bright and ebullient and glistening with the occasional splatter of sequins; chrysanthemums nudged alongside roses and a menagerie of deer, toucans, snakes and flamingoes wound their way down Elan’s canvas. Lately we have seen far too many ‘jungle’ prints on the ramp but Khadijah managed to tweak and tame the inspiration into designs that were her own. In a play of structure and volume, there were some gorgeous capes and jackets and cancanned skirts that screamed ‘luxe’.

The collection served as an apt precedent to the upcoming opening of Elan’s first flagship store in Karachi. Placing ‘business’ before impractical city and council-loyalty and an eye for marrying design with retail, ‘Sauvage’ was one of the night’s best.

The models were pretty in print in quirky tropical ensembles
The models were pretty in print in quirky tropical ensembles

Our top picks: The embellished cape with sequins and a milieu of animals flitting about its entire length and the jacket and pant set with technicolour flora and fauna over a white background.

It's all about the intricate details
It's all about the intricate details

Maheen Karim

Far from the madding (wedding-bound) crowd, Maheen Karim, also, opted to think ‘winter ball’. With her characteristic sophisticated ethos, she dealt out bling in glamorous doses over figure-flattering jumpsuits, short dresses, cocktail gowns, skirts, capes and flowing tunics cinched at the waist. Velvet in deep tones was her fabric du jour as well as a delicious silk print, with swirls of multicolours.

Karim kept it simple and elegant
Karim kept it simple and elegant

There were some moments where Maheen stumbled towards the OTT — a dress cinched in multiple tiers down its length, for instance, didn’t make sense. There were other instances of dejavu where the silhouettes were far too reminiscent of Maheen's earlier work. It was, though, a cohesive line-up overall. Maheen herself wears anglicized luxe very well and this, in essence, is why she designs it with such ease. Her cuts and finishes are impeccable, making her a hot-seller in the very limited — but affluent – party-going milieu.

The designer's skill was fairly evident in this understated collection
The designer's skill was fairly evident in this understated collection

Our top pick: A lovely black bolero bordered with sequins and a floor length gown worn by Mehreen Syed.

Mehreen Syed ruled the ramp in this slinky number
Mehreen Syed ruled the ramp in this slinky number

Wardha Saleem

Wardha Saleem’s greatest strength is her ability to stay true to her signature.

She may deliver a great collection or a not-too-great one but her fumbles as well as her successes are utterly her own, resisting the all too rampant urge to copy that often hampers fashion. With her bridal line, Zar Gul, Wardha exemplified her prowess at mixing colour and merging it with pretty embellishments.

Saleem's embroidery was neat and chic
Saleem's embroidery was neat and chic

Silhouettes were mostly modern, running the gamut from harem shalwars to capes, saris, culottes, jackets, embellished long tunics and the inevitable lehngas. The rich layering to raise motifs, dabka and gota-work particularly stood out although there were some elements that didn’t work; for instance, the layered lehnga interspersed with too much design meshed together.

This outfit worn by Fouzia Aman wasn't cohesive enough to hit the mark
This outfit worn by Fouzia Aman wasn't cohesive enough to hit the mark

Nevertheless, Wardha, with her textile background, brings together beautiful colour combinations. It is this knack that makes her an ideal choice for mehndi outfits and an unconventional, interesting one for the wedding jora.

The designer herself
The designer herself

Our top pick: A short velvet bolero with gold embroideries paired with a slinky pleated sari-inspired shalwar.

Velvet's definitely making a comeback
Velvet's definitely making a comeback

Obaid Sheikh

This was a line that perfectly demonstrated what not to show at fashion week. In an assault of tissue and velvet, the clothes were mundane at best and gaudy at worst. Fashion is subjective and you never know, the collection could please a certain clientele. It was certainly not the stuff of fashion weeks.

This would have been better left off the roster
This would have been better left off the roster

Our top pick: If we absolutely have to, an embroidered velvet shawl.

Sadly, Shaikh used colour combinations and embellishments that looked way too gaudy and outdated
Sadly, Shaikh used colour combinations and embellishments that looked way too gaudy and outdated

FnkAsia by Huma Adnan

Fnk Asia’s ode to Tuscany was supposed to feature luxury-pret but the infusion of brocade easily slotted it as shaadi-wear. Unfortunately, it was hardly cutting edge. In an confusing amalgamation of embroidery and silhouettes that tried to strike a chord between the traditional and modern, the line-up didn’t make much sense.

Fnk Asia always pushes the fashion envelope, sometimes a bit too far
Fnk Asia always pushes the fashion envelope, sometimes a bit too far

Having said that, there were pieces that made sense as separates: baggy shalwars, embroidered velvet pants and a trailing cape worn by Hareem Farooque. The brand’s jewelry line also continues to evolve, featuring some very ethnic statement earrings, teekas and necklaces.

The brand's accessories are still very much on fleek
The brand's accessories are still very much on fleek

Our top pick: A voluminous velvet shalwar and all the jewelry!

Thankfully, shalwars are reappearing on the runway
Thankfully, shalwars are reappearing on the runway

Nida Azwer

Nida Azwer’s love for painstaking craftsmanship has always stood out in her work and it forms the backbone of her popularity as a designer. It was, then, sad when motifs began to fall off Nida’s designs as soon as they emerged on to the catwalk. There was none of the perfectionism that one identifies with her design. Many of the clothes were beautiful but lost their veneer due to untidy finishing.

We fell in love with these bright yellow culottes (L)
We fell in love with these bright yellow culottes (L)

On a predominantly shimmery palette of white and gray with occasional pops of colour, Nida’s ‘Mystical Garden’ featured some very interesting bridal silhouettes: cowled shalwars, tunics with yo-yoing hems, off-shoulder thigh high shirts paired with culottes, baggy arm-holes for sleeves and a quintessential phoenix emblazoned in flight on the back of an elegant white shirt.

What happened to the quintessential Azwer craftsmanship?
What happened to the quintessential Azwer craftsmanship?

Inspirations varied from the usual florals to the odd rabbit scampering down a sleeve – a concept that will probably not appeal to most bridal clients – deer, grasshoppers and butterflies.

Nida Azwer takes a bow
Nida Azwer takes a bow

Our top pick: Shalwars and tunics with variant hems – as long as the beads don’t fall off!

This cutwork jacket paired with dhoti pants (L) is on our lust list
This cutwork jacket paired with dhoti pants (L) is on our lust list

Deepak Perwani

Deepak Perwani’s career boasts a host of vivacious, strong luxury-pret lineups but with his bridals this time, he was evidently just thinking ‘commerce’.

There were some pretty, romantic elements, dominated with lace and floral embroideries and heavily-worked velvet constructed into coats, lehngas and dupattas. Silhouettes stayed safe, though, not really bothering to set new trends although the designer did present some interesting colour combinations. For instance, the deep purple velvet lehnga, paired with a worked choli and a bright pink silk dupatta with golden screen-print was beautiful — so was a loose organza kimono tunic in purple, cinched at the waist.

Perwani used a colour palette consisting of deep purple hues perfect for fall/winter
Perwani used a colour palette consisting of deep purple hues perfect for fall/winter

Other designs simply didn't work; ensembles in biege and pink and menswear, in deep maroon and red velvet. One expects much more finesse and stronger statements from a veteran designer like Deepak.

There wasn't much menswear on the runway but whatever was spotted fell flat
There wasn't much menswear on the runway but whatever was spotted fell flat

Regardless, there's no mistaking Deepak Perwani’s popularity. He took his final bows with Wiqar Ali Khan, Sana Bucha and Zoe Viccaji, quite the star designer alongside the showstoppers. Deepak needs to bring back his penchant for experimentation in order to retain this adulation.

The designer poses with his showstoppers: Sana Bucha, Wiqar Ali Khan and Zoe Viccaji
The designer poses with his showstoppers: Sana Bucha, Wiqar Ali Khan and Zoe Viccaji

Top picks: The lehnga-choli in purple, pink and white and the purple kimono top worked with white floral embroideries.

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