The fourth and final day of the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week (PSFW) was not a highly anticipated one - and for good reason too. Dedicated almost entirely to the high street and voile, fashion forward statements weren’t really expected. And yet, a handful of heavyweights in the designer line-up drew crowds: HSY Limited’s collaboration with Kashf Foundation in the early evening segment and Deepak Perwani’s ‘D-Philosophy Returns’ in the second-half, followed by a long line-up of voile shows. There was also some curiosity surrounding the House of Ittehad’s show, designed by Nilofer Shahid – more on that later.
While the three-piece suit may essentially be humdrum, there’s no mistaking its mass appeal and it makes sense for it to feature at a fashion week. It also makes sense for it to be showcased on a separate platform rather than be sandwiched amidst designer-wear, a very wise decision that was made by the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) last year.
Five voile shows – by Al-Karam, Khas, Warda Prints, Ittehad Textile Mills, Harmony by Hang Ten and Gul Ahmed – allowed the fabrics to be compared and critiqued to some extent. There were the usual unfathomably ostentatious designs where cotton was molded into garish concoctions but there were also a few pleasant surprises.
There were also quite a few collections that simply didn’t look streamlined and it made one wonder if the council was no longer editing design in order to maintain standards. For standards, on day four, fluctuated constantly, often trundling down to the abysmal.
Here’s what we thought:
MBM’s Chromodope was a glaring mix of color that didn’t make much fashion sense. Lips, hands, eyes and flowers drifted on a series of shirts, culottes, capes and skirts. Some pieces, like a pair of printed culottes and a cape, might work but overall, this collection was hardly trendsetting and frequently jarring.
The high-street category may allow a designer to create more commercially viable – and thereby, less experimental - collections but finding their way into PSFW’s spotlight, they still need to make fashion sense.
HSY should venture into the high-street more often. In his collaboration with Kashf Foundation, the designer dabbled with earthy tones and indigenous embroideries handcrafted by rural village women that the effort seeks to empower.
Molded from cotton, chiffon, organza and silk, many of the clothes will work really well as separates: skirts, baggy shalwars and harems, wraps glistening with mirror-work, short dresses embroidered with concentric flowers, culottes with architecture tapering down their length and those slouchy tunics that never quite seem to leave the catwalk.
It was high-street teetering at the very edge of high-end couture, wearable fashion that could serve as trendy day-wear or make a statement on the red carpet. This was the only truly exciting collection of the day.
Shirin Hassan’s collection had its pretty moments and then some. At its best, some of the designs may appeal; a long skirt in dull green, a series of embroidered culottes and a monochromatic cape. However, there was nothing in this line-up that one hadn’t seen before at other shows by other ateliers.
Following the reigning trend for sporty fashion, Sobia Nazir presented a range of track-suits, sleek short skirts, tunics and dresses. The clothes were smart, at best, and the predominantly white and pastel palette with spurts of floral print will fit right in, with summer right around the corner.
To be translated soon into wearable tunics for Sobia’s new prêt range, the collection will perhaps then make better sense. At PSFW, it was merely passable.
Deepak Perwani cheekily played with political innuendo by creating a print exclaiming ‘Fix it!’. On blouses, jackets, capes and lowers, this print was the strongest design element in his collection. It may not have rung a bell with some of PSFW’s Lahore audience but in Karachi, it could become ‘the’ political statement to make.
There was also some interesting layering and asymmetric wraparound tunics that are likely to be hot-sellers. Also at the forefront were some vivacious prints, mixing in criss-crossing lines with splatters of paint and fauna.
Then again, we’ve seen paint splatters in print before, haven’t we? And Deepak has dabbled with monochrome stripes umpteen times. His was an aesthetically pretty collection. It could have been better, though.
There are a number of reasons why textile bigwigs have a penchant for fashion weeks. For one, it adds a high fashion veneer to their brand which may entice audiences. Furthermore, fashion weeks are broadcast repetitively on television and boosted on social media, generating massive mileage for their brands.
Lastly, it allows textile gurus to present fashion forward ways in which their voile can be stitched. Here’s where they usually flounder. Lawn just doesn’t look great when fashioned into strangely contorted evening gowns or much worse, ghararas. Also, Cotton is great as day-wear and infusing it with a bling overdose usually doesn’t work. As a casual fabric, it’s better to put forward understated, elegant variations of it.
Refreshingly, Al-Karam understood this. The brand’s collection ran the gamut from easy breezy day-wear to a smattering of evening formals. There were tunics in blue and white, worked with slight thread embroideries, short tops loosely cinching the waist, a monochrome men’s kurta, a gorgeous cape and pant-set worn by Sunita Marshall and a small range of ethereal white-and-cream tunics and pants. It was all very wearable and still, never boring. Should these clothes be stocked at Al-Karam’s stores, they are likely to fly off the racks.
The rest of the contenders veered towards the boring, the glaring and very rarely, the interesting. Khaas’ silhouettes were uninspiring although some of the prints and the short tops and culottes did catch the eye.
Warda Prints’ ‘The Story of Frida Kahlo’ hardly stayed true to its name. None of Frida’s wacky ebullience translated to design and instead, the line-up was OTT, with bits of bling placed carelessly here and there; a glittery neckpiece-like embellishment dangling down the center of shirts, for instance! The prints, also, were lackluster. One hopes that the textile house’s upcoming collaboration with designer Ali Xeeshan which will be much more fashion-savvy.
The House of Ittehad’s designs, created by Nilofer Shahid, had some hits: a short yellow tunic belted at the waist over a baggy shalwar, a white shalwar tapering into a narrow ankle embellished with black embroidery and a standout multi-colored cape worn by Areeba Habib. Unfortunately, there were also frequent misses; particularly an off-shoulder shirt with a bejeweled neckline and a gharara with traditional chata-pati elements.
Similarly, Harmony by Hang Ten stayed afloat occasionally with some very pretty silk prints in bright yellow, orange and green, flattering cowl necklines and a lovely range of shalwars, varying from tapered versions with embroidery running down the side to voluminous dhoti-styles.
Gul Ahmed’s show, the final one of the evening, did feature some pretty prints, molded into long capes, skirts and pants. In its entirety, though, the collection was forgettable.